When We Are Not Sure


“When we are not sure, we are alive.” – Graham Greene

Now that you’ve all taken my advice and registered for this year, let’s talk about a part of the registration process that’s been receiving more and more attention in recent years: the question inquiring whether you have a succession plan. It will likely soon be mandatory for Illinois lawyers actively engaged in private practice to answer “yes,” or to name a “designated representative” as part of the registration process. That requirement will begin if the Illinois Supreme Court approves proposed Supreme Court Rule 781, and lawyers – especially solo and small-firm lawyers – should be prepared for it. Many are, but some are uncertain about how to do so. Speakers on this issue have often noted that every year, a certain percentage of the attorneys indicate, during registration, that they “don’t know” if they have a succession plan or not. The questions are raised: who would say that, and why?

I think I know.

Continue reading “When We Are Not Sure”

Unregistered Practice: All Risk, No Benefit

It’s lawyer registration season again – and it’s usually not a difficult process for practicing lawyers looking to report, pay, and move on to next year. But it becomes problematic for some lawyers each year. Lawyers sometimes put off their registration until it’s too late, or they neglect the process altogether, whether due to personal […]

One Door Opens: Commission Rule 56

In my last post, I discussed “deferred prosecutions” under ARDC Rule 108 – matters that are resolved before the Inquiry Board of the Commission without a formal complaint being voted. This option, while not without its pitfalls for respondent-attorneys, at least avoids the tribulations and trauma of a public disciplinary proceeding. Now, a new, similar […]

Things to Try: Disciplinary Complaints, Closures, and Alternatives

The recent amendment to Supreme Court Rule 756 was the kickoff for the ARDC’s foray into proactive management-based regulation, which we know will require lawyers without malpractice insurance to undergo an online self-assessment. As the contours of that process continue to be determined, the profession can and should examine existing methods the ARDC can employ […]

IL PMBR ASAP: Sea Change in Illinois Attorney Regulation

I wrote previously about the concept of proactive management-based regulation (“PMBR”), an attorney discipline concept that has been studied and implemented in some jurisdictions worldwide. The word was that Illinois was looking to be the first jurisdiction to adopt it in the U.S., and with our Supreme Court’s January 25 amendment to its Rule 756(e), that’s now happened. This […]

Funds of Other Lawyers: Separate to Divide

Recently, the American Bar Association promulgated Formal Opinion number 475, which addresses the obligations of lawyers who, having agreed to a fee split with another lawyer, come into possession of the settlement funds from which the fee will be drawn. Of course, we know what the lawyer’s obligations are to the client, and to third-party lienholders, with respect to the funds. […]

Attorney Regulation Reborn?

Illinois lawyers may have heard that the ARDC is moving toward a model of attorney regulation that includes proactive management-based regulation (“PMBR”). That model has been in place in New South Wales, Australia, for several years, and several North American jurisdictions are looking into adopting it in some form. The principle behind PMBR involves a shift from the traditionally reactive […]

ARDC Prosecutions: Hitting Dishonesty Hard

You may have received a copy of the ARDC’s Annual Report in your inbox recently, or perhaps you saw the summary that the ARDC also published. Both highlighted several aspects of the ARDC’s operation, including statistical information about the number and kind of investigations and prosecutions the agency has initiated. What can we learn from the raw numbers about what […]

Rule 1.6(e): Attacking Hacking

Taking information-security-related steps consistent with Rule 1.6(b)(7) might also help in complying with new Rule 1.16(e), which provides that “A lawyer shall make reasonable efforts to prevent the inadvertent or unauthorized disclosure of, or unauthorized access to, information relating to the representation of a client.” This may sound alarming: can a lawyer be disciplined for being a victim of […]