Ethics & Professional Responsibility

The job market is hot, your student loan balance is, well, eek, and you’ve been asked to do some legal work on the side—maybe it’s document review for a contract firm, or overflow for a solo practitioner friend. Can you ethically do this? Tread carefully, if at all. First, check with your employer. Your firm or agency may have specific rules governing side work—and this may extend to non-lawyer employment such as teaching as an…
September 30, 2021, is the MCLE grace period deadline for Illinois attorneys who are part of the 2019-2021 reporting period but didn’t complete their CLE requirements by June 30, 2021. Illinois attorneys whose last names begin with N-Z and fall into this category have until 11:59 p.m. CDT on September 30 to report compliance and pay their late fee. (Unlike last year, the MCLE Board isn’t waiving the late fee.) The MCLE requirements for the…
Our Lawyer Spotlight series highlights Illinois lawyers who are demonstrating the ideals of professionalism in their daily lives. Emma Dorantes is a Champaign, Ill.-based staff attorney at Legal Advocacy Service, a division of the Illinois Guardianship & Advocacy Commission. At LAS, Emma focuses on disability rights law and advocates for the rights of individuals with mental illness in involuntary treatment and involuntary civil commitment hearings. How do you use technology in your practice? Without being…
While many seasoned attorneys still tell tales of electric typewriters buzzing around the office as assistants sat plugged into dictation machines, today’s lawyers occupy a far different desk setup: they’re perched in front of a monitor (or two… or more) with cloud-based software to drive their document production. The fact that there are more than 1.2 billion Microsoft Office users worldwide makes Microsoft Word the gold standard for word processing. Job hunting in…
Start With the Appropriate Entity Before starting your journey towards creating a law product or automated legal service, an initial decision you must make is the kind of entity that owns, develops, and licenses the digital application. The choice of the operating entity is the first decision you must make when deciding the develop a softwasre applicationfor use by your law firm.  This blog post is primarily for lawyers or law firms thinking about…
The Illinois Supreme Court Commission on Access to Justice (ATJ Commission) has rolled out more updates to the state’s court forms. This time they’ve amended several forms in the Eviction suite. The revised forms include: Getting Started Different Types of Orders in Eviction Cases How to Use Different Types of Orders in Eviction Cases Agreed Dismissal Order (Case May Be Reinstated if Defendants Violate Agreement) Agreed Settlement Order with Status Date (Defendants Will…
In the age of COVID-19, video has become a dominant and ubiquitous form of communication (see TikTok). Videos are entertaining, engaging, and more expressive than photos. According to Statista, when it comes to YouTube, people upload 500 hours of video every minute and watch around 1 billion hours of content each day. At the Commission, we’ve seen our viewership on YouTube grow immensely over the past year. In fact, from September 2020 to September 2021,…
Over the past several weeks, Illinois justices, judges, and attorneys have blanketed the state in person and virtually to spread a message of professionalism to incoming 1L law students. The program is part of the annual professionalism orientation at Illinois’ nine law schools. 2021 marks the 15th year the Commission on Professionalism has collaborated with the state’s law schools to produce the orientations. University of Chicago Law School 1Ls recite the Pledge of Professionalism. “As…
Marc Andreessen quipped in 2011: “Software is eating the world”. The idea of software substitutes for lawyers’ work is a radical idea for some lawyers. The legal profession is not immune from this development. Law has a high information component. In a large sense, law is information or as Bill Palin, the young lawyer who won the ABA’s Legal Hackathon at last year’s ABA Annual Meeting, says, “law is code”. We are already seeing…
Recently, there has been much discussion of the idea of “productized legal services” as the next transformational strategy that will enable lawyers to make money while they sleep, increase the volume of potential clients, and move away from the tyranny of the billable hour. Some law firms have developed a product approach as a method of capturing potential clients and then upselling them to more traditional legal services. (See, for example https://www.cooleygo.com/). Other law…