In reviewing some of the events from the Illinois legal community in 2017, I quickly realized much of them were in preparation for the year to come, and beyond.
2018 will be a landmark year for Illinois, there is no doubt in that. The overriding story will lead up to the State of Illinois having 200 candles burning bright on its Bicentennial birthday cake come December 3, 2018. And the yearlong Illinois Bicentennial celebration between Dec. 3, 2017 and Dec. 3, 2018 has already begun!
So, in anticipation of the year to come – our Bicentennial Year – let’s look back at some of the legal related topics coming out of Illinois, and see how they will influence our 2018.
E-Filing Becomes Universal
As of January 1, 2018 (aka “E-Day”), electronic filing will be there standard in all civil circuit court cases in Illinois. This mandate follows the e-filing requirements implemented on July 1, 2017 for Illinois Supreme Court and Appellate Court cases.
The Court has released various Rules and guides this year in anticipation of meeting the E-Day start day in 102 counties across the Land of Lincoln. Many online training sessions, led by the e-filing company leading the roll-out, Texas-based Tyler Technologies, have been and continue to be available for attorneys and staff to help in this transition from paper to online filing of cases. We developed our own list of tips to help guide the new rules and procedures to help you with the transition.
The Future Is Now: Legal Services 2018
Nine speakers from across the country and approximately 400 law students, legal educators, attorneys, and members of the judiciary met on May 18, 2017 to engage in another thoughtful conversation about the future of the practice of law. Themes of access to justice, delivering value, and diversity all dominated the discussions as practitioners engaged with the presenters in town hall format talks.
Look for The Future Is Now Conference to return to Chicago (with a very impressive ten-speaker roster!) on Wednesday, May 2, 2018. Save the date!
CLE Carve-Out Increases Awareness
According to the Illinois Supreme Court, “Numerous studies have demonstrated that the legal profession lags behind other fields with regard to diversity and wellness. In addition, data collected by the Commission on Professionalism, which administers the professional responsibility requirement, shows that courses offered in the areas of both diversity and mental health remain at a relatively low and static level.”
Chief Justice Lloyd A. Karmeier emphasized, “The Court’s experience has shown that lawyers have not been seeking out or cannot find continuing legal education programs that might offer meaningful help in addressing their own substance abuse and mental health issues or those of their colleagues. We have also noted that as Illinois and the Illinois bar have become more diverse, there has been a marked lag in interest in educational programs addressed to facilitating diversity and inclusion generally and in the legal profession specifically.”
The new Rule 794(d) requires Illinois attorneys to take one hour of diversity and inclusion CLE and one hour of mental health and substance abuse CLE during each two-year reporting period. Here are some FAQs on the new CLE requirement for attorneys and for CLE providers. Look for various opportunities to satisfy this new CLE carveout requirement, including the Court’s Lawyer-to-Lawyer Mentoring Program.
Report Shines Light on Attorney Well-Being
Following two widely discussed studies on the legal profession’s alcohol and substance abuse problem, a National Task Force on Lawyer Well-Being was convened. This coalition of groups, including the American Bar Association Commission on Lawyer Assistance Programs and the Standing Committee on Professionalism, drafted a comprehensive report: THE PATH TO LAWYER WELL-BEING: Practical Recommendations For Positive Change.
Look for this “Wellness Report” to be a much-discussed roadmap in 2018 to the implementation of strategies to better address these serious concerns in our profession and our communities as we shine a light on these issues.
The ARDC Adopts PMBR
Beginning with Illinois attorneys’ 2018 registration, lawyers, with a few exceptions, must disclose whether they have malpractice insurance under Illinois Supreme Court Rule 756(e). Lawyers without malpractice insurance (who actively engage in the private practice) must complete a self-assessment of their practice every other year until the lawyer obtains malpractice insurance.
This Proactive Management-Based Regulation (PMBR) is a novel practice adopted in Illinois this year with hopes of helping attorneys evaluate and improve their practices while avoiding trouble areas that could lead to disciplinary complaints or even consequences.
James J. Grogan, Deputy Administrator and Chief Counsel for the Illinois Attorney Registration and Disciplinary Commission (ARDC) spoke of the overwhelming benefits of this attorney regulation model at the Commission’s The Future Is Now conference last year. Keep an eye out for how PMBR will be implemented and administered in 2018 and beyond.
Taking Action in 2018
If the best way to plan for the future is to create it, then we certainly have been hard at work. Whether it is these initiatives or other important factors influencing the legal profession and the practice of law in Illinois, the Commission on Professionalism will continue to bring you the information and welcome a conversation. We wish you the very best for 2018!