I love being a lawyer.  It’s been 20 years and every day is different for me.  I didn’t know that I would feel that way when I started off and I consider myself very lucky. I had a long time client call me the other day about a situation he had. He knew it wasn’t something I handle, but told me that he wanted my opinion because “you are the only lawyer I trust.”  That made me feel great.

I told him as we ended the call to remember two things:  1. He can always call me with any questions. 2. Lawyers are the worst.  I said the second thing as a joke and he laughed, but the sad part is that it’s kind of true.

Now I know tons of passionate, great attorneys who really fight for their clients.  Those are the attorneys I recommend to people who call me for a lawyer referral.

I also though have met and talked to a lot of attorneys lately who clearly hate what they do.  I like to ask lawyers if they enjoy their practice area or if they see themselves evolving in to something else.  Too many attorneys are miserable having done the same thing for a long time.  I’ve been told by more and more attorneys is that all they really want to do is make enough money so they can stop doing law at all.

Now I’m not against anyone retiring and enjoying life.  In fact I get nervous if an attorney is in their 70’s and still practicing law.  To me that can be a bad sign.

What I’m talking about is lawyers that make clear in talking to them that they hate what they are doing, hate their clients and would rather do anything other than practice law, but don’t feel they have options.  Really these are people who worship the money they are making over personal happiness.  Yes it would suck to go from earning six figures to 40 grand a year, but if you hate life, isn’t that worth it?

The problem is that these miserable attorneys have clients like you who get harmed because you aren’t getting their best effort.  Sometimes you can still win or get a good result, but a lack of passion or caring can doom you.

Your attorney isn’t likely to come out and tell you that they hate their job, so what are the warning signs?

  • Failure to return phone calls
  • Mood swings
  • Irritability
  • They don’t remember facts about your case that the two of you have discussed
  • Sloppy dress
  • High turnover in their office
  • Disorganized
  • They yell at you
  • Failure to follow through on what they say they will do

These are just some of the signs and if they do these things and aren’t burned out then they are just a bad attorney/person.  In most cases you can switch lawyers without problem and you should do so.  If you need help with a case or have questions call us at (312) 346-5320.

Most people come to us looking for an Illinois attorney referral. We also offer free legal guidance from our attorneys and will talk to you about just any legal matter.

One recent called was meeting with an attorney she had found on her own and was very nervous about it.  She had never met with an attorney before and wanted advice on what would happen, what to bring, what to expect, etc.

Unless the attorney you are meeting is arrogant or a scumbag (in which case you should look elsewhere), going to meet with an attorney shouldn’t be much different than meeting with a teacher or going to the dentist.  The goals are different, but most attorneys are nice people and won’t try to intimidate you.  We are in the customer service business or at least we should be.

In that first meeting or phone call the lawyer will be trying to determine what you want to accomplish if you hire them.  You might not know what’s reasonable or not, but should tell your story so they can understand your situation and ask questions.  I wouldn’t ask yes/no questions, but instead ask questions that require a response. Don’t say, “Have you handled similar cases?”  Do say, “Can you tell me about some of the similar cases you’ve handled?”

As for what you should bring, that will be different in every case.  In most cases it’s nothing.  If it’s a medical malpractice case for example, it would be great if you had the relevant medical records, but it’s more important for them to learn the facts as you know them.

This whole time is a chance for you to evaluate the lawyer and determine if you want to hire them.  Also know that they will be evaluating you.  Are you truthful?  Do you seem cooperative? Can you afford them?  Are you nice to the staff?

If it’s a case you will be paying money for up front, you should get a reasonable fee estimate for the whole case and a written agreement to hire them no matter the type of case.

They don’t have to take you on as a client and you don’t have to hire them.  You probably shouldn’t meet with ten attorneys, but talking to a couple is never a bad idea, at least until you find one that you are comfortable with.

Everybody breaks the law at some point in their life. For most of us this means speeding, even if we don’t get caught. I’m just as guilty of this as anyone. If the speed limit is 55 mph, I think most people have no problem believing that actually means it’s OK to drive 64 mph, especially if that’s the flow of traffic. I certainly act this way and knock on wood, I haven’t gotten a ticket since 1994.

Fortunately most people don’t try to justify other minor criminal offenses like shoplifting. But there is one criminal offense that is committed every day by tens of thousands of people that is worse than petty shoplifting yet doesn’t cause most people to think twice about it. I’m of course talking about working for cash under the table.

When you do this, you and your employer are committing tax fraud. In fact, some studies have shown that if it weren’t for the lost revenue from this type of fraud, we’d be close to having a balanced budget.

Most workers will not get in trouble for this. The bigger legal risk is on the employer. Yet you do have some concerns. For example:

– If you get fired it will be near impossible in most cases to get unemployment benefits.
– You lose out on many worker protections under the law.
– If you are injured while working it makes it harder to prove you are actually an employee. If you can’t do that then you won’t be able to get workers’ compensation benefits. If you get a major injury you are screwed.
– It’s hard to show a job history to future employers.

There are many other things which could go wrong for you, but these are the big ones. It’s not as bad as it can be for an employer who gets caught as they could face huge fines or even jail time, but it’s still a risk for workers. I get that any job is better than none at all, but I can’t recommend enough that you avoid this situation if possible. Short term it’s probably great for you, but long term it’s often not worth it.

So you’ve been picked for a jury and don’t want to serve.

If you want to know how to fake your way out of jury duty, you need to hit the back button. The reality is that most people who get called for jury duty won’t get picked. If you do get picked, most juries only last a couple of days. If you are a believer in America then you have to suck it up and serve on a jury because that’s part of our system. You may not like it, but you take the bad with the good. Also, someone’s life hangs in the balance so you should give them a fair shake.

All that said, don’t freak out if you are called for jury duty and “can’t” do it. If you are a single mother and have nobody to help you with the kids, you’ll likely be excused. If you run a company and it’s essential that you be there, you’ll likely be excused. If you can show that your family will suffer serious financial harm if you miss too much work, you’ll likely be excused. If you are a student and would have to miss a ton of class (not a couple of days for any of these people), if you have a vacation planned, if you are taking care of a sick relative, if you are running for public office, if you know any of the lawyers or parties involved, if you have a serious medical condition, if you are a new mother who is breast feeding or if you are famous, you probably won’t get picked.

Lawyers and scientists tend to not get picked because some attorneys don’t want those who know the law or how to examine evidence to have too much influence.

Beyond that, it’s your civic duty, so stop whining about it. If you think that you can show up and act weird, biased, etc. and just get out of it, you are fooling yourself. The Judges deal with this crap every time they have to pick a jury and they’ll gladly keep you for a couple of days in response to your lies. There is a difference between saying you can’t serve on a murder trial because you don’t believe in the death penalty and pretending you are nuts or can’t be impartial.

It may be a nuisance, but it’s your civic duty (sure beats mandatory military service) and it can actually be interesting. So just go and serve and do your best. You’d want good people to do the same for you.

I always tell people the truth in a direct manner when they ask me if they have a case. That’s true even when I tell them that I don’t think they have a case. It’s not usually what someone wants to hear, but it’s the best way to run a business. I guarantee honest advice, and if I hem and haw or act all wishy washy then I’m not helping anyone.

A recent caller begged me to take her medical malpractice lawsuit. I of course would be thrilled if she had a good case because those cases, while rarely successful, can be worth a lot of money. In this case though, she got an infection after a C-section which is unfortunately a risk of having almost any surgery. It’s not a case I feel comfortable that I could win.

I told her why I, or any attorney I know, wouldn’t likely win this case and made very clear that there is nothing more that we could do. The next five minutes were her asking, “But what about this,” and “What about that?” and essentially trying to talk me into being her lawyer. It didn’t change a thing.

When you hire a lawyer it’s kind of like getting a girlfriend or a boyfriend. While you can be interested in someone, if they aren’t interested back then things won’t work out for you in the long run. And you certainly don’t want to beg.

I’ve run this law firm for over 15 years and talked to over 300,000 people. I can’t count how many times I’ve talked to someone who hired a lawyer who just hates practicing law so they become very disinterested in the case. You wouldn’t want that in a significant other and you shouldn’t want it in a lawyer.

The most important quality an attorney can have is experience with your type of case. A close second is a passion for getting you the best result possible. If they don’t care about you and aren’t going to fight for you then your chances of success greatly decrease.

We started our service to help you find the right attorney for your case because people deserve to have someone with passion in their corner. There are many bad lawyers out there, but many more good ones. We only recommend law firms that we would suggest to family members or friends. So while we can’t promise you a result, we can tell you that our recommendations will be better than any blind date you’ve ever been on.

If you would like our help in finding a lawyer, call us for a free consultation at (312) 346-5320 or complete our contact form. We are experienced attorneys who will speak with you for free and do whatever we can to help you.

Nobody wants to pay for a lawyer if they can avoid it. That said, I’ve been running this service for 15 years and have talked to over 300,000 people. I can’t tell you how many people over the years who have hired their cousin or uncle or friend for a case and then called me because they greatly regret that decision.

One of the biggest mistakes lawyers in Illinois make is assuming that they can handle any case or that taking on a claim will be easy. Insurance companies and other attorneys usually pounce in those situations and make the lawyer’s life difficult which in turn screws up your case. You’re essentially fighting with one hand tied behind your back.

The number one key to success in any legal case is getting an attorney with experience on the type of matter that you are handling. The problem that we see over and over is that your relative tends not to have the experience you need. Whether they take the case out of greed or pride or something else is beyond me. When the clients get to me it’s often because the case is either screwed up or dragging on forever. This leads to hurt feelings and often a bad result with the case itself.

For anyone who is considering hiring an attorney in Illinois, we always recommend that you think long term. That doesn’t mean go and spending $50,000.00 when your cousin will do the case for free. What it does mean is to try and figure out what your long term goal is, what’s the outcome you are looking for and who can best help you achieve that goal. If you were injured in a car accident and your relative has spent their career writing wills and filing bankruptcy paperwork, they aren’t the best attorney for you.

In any of these cases it’s up to you to look out for your own best interests. If you don’t then you can’t expect that anyone else will either. Don’t feel obligated to hire anyone other than who you think can do the best job for you. Once the case is done, it’s over and you can’t go back and hire the lawyer should should have retained in the first place.

To get a free referral for your case, call us at (312) 346-5320 or fill out our contact form. We want you to find the right fit for your situation.

There is a ton of political nonsense about whether or not President Obama should be able to nominate a Supreme Court justice or if it should be the job of the next President. That’s not what this blog post is about.

Whether it’s in a few months or next year, eventually there will be a new Judge on the Court and you can bet your last dollar that they will be a lawyer. As an attorney myself you’d be surprised to know that I don’t think that is the best idea.

Nothing in the law of the land requires that a Supreme Court Judge actually be an attorney. I do think it makes sense that most of the Judges are lawyers and understanding case law, legal precedent and how the system works is certainly a good idea. It’s also not rocket science and is something we teach to every first year law student. Certainly it could be grasped by a non lawyer of any reasonable intelligence.

While I’m not suggesting that anyone off the street can/should take this job, I do think that a non-partisan, successful person would be a great choice. Howard Stern jokes that he’ll be appointed Judge if Donald Trump gets elected. He’s not serious, but the reality is that he was a great judge on America’s Got Talent because he had firm opinions that all had an explanation for them.

To me the most important quality in a Judge aside from being impartial is that they are willing to look at both sides of an issue and then make a decision based on reasoning, not emotion. It’s one thing if law is settled such as free speech under the first amendment. But when there are questions like should corporations be able to get out of class action lawsuits via hidden arbitration clause agreements or deciding what limits should be placed on a “well regulated militia”, we need someone who can look at these issues as they apply to our world today and offer common sense rationale.

With Judges we have the advantage of their previous rulings to determine if they are biased in favor of one side or another. With non-lawyers we wouldn’t have that, but we would have the lifetime of their tweets as well as a look at what they’ve done with their professional career to see if they are really impartial or not.

The point is that non-lawyer citizens seem to have no representation whatsoever on the Court and deserve to have their own voice. If that voice ends up being the swing vote it’s even better as results might actually then reflect the will of the people.

Sadly we don’t have nine Judges who are real swing votes. In most cases you know how most of them are going to vote and that their reasoning will just end up fitting their desires. How great would it be to have a Judge who actually judged? If it takes a non-lawyer to do that it’s even better.

You’ve all seen the ads.  Especially on those days when for whatever reason you aren’t at work, but are instead watching Jerry Springer or Judge Judy in the middle of the day.  The creepy, slimy attorneys who say things like “We don’t get paid until you do!” or “I’m a warrior” or “We did it for them” along with pictures/video of clients on crutches, in wheel chairs or with bandages around their heads.

They are essentially a Better Call Saul episode that has come to life.  It’s gross and helps give attorneys a bad name.

Every year I get called by cable companies asking me if I would run a TV ad.  Every year my response is the same. Yes if the price is right AND if you can develop a non-cheesy, not disgusting ad for my law firm.  I’ve never been pitched anything that I’d be proud to put my name on. Granted, our practice is unique in that we provide legal guidance and lawyer referrals, so it’s not as if they can take a cookie cutter approach with us and re-do an ad that worked well for someone else.

I have looked at a bunch of lawyer commercials myself because I’m intrigued as to whether it’s even possible to create a good lawyer commercial.  I’m creative, but not that creative, so it won’t be me that can put something together.

So we are holding a contest.  If you can create a great lawyer commercial for Illinoislawyers.com, we’ll pay you $5,000.00 if we use your commercial or concept.  No hidden agenda or strings attached.  We have traditionally done all of our ads on the internet, but wanted to see if there was a good way to promote our service on TV.

Looking for guidance.  30 seconds tops.  Not something that would run on day time crap TV.  Our motto is that we treat callers like family members or friends while at the same time giving direct, plain English advice because that’s how we would want to be treated.

If you think you have a concept for us, fill out our contact form and let’s go from there.  We will accept submissions between now and May 1st.

We post a new blog every Wednesday on a different legal topic.  We’ve been helping people find the right lawyer for their case since 2001 and have helped more than 300,000 people during that time.

With the end of the year upon us, we just wanted to take a moment to say thank you to everyone who has trusted us as the top resource for people who need Illinois legal help.  Many lawyers hate what they do, but we love it because we actually get to help people.

Have a safe and happy holidays.  We are on call 24/7 over the next few days and every day.  So if you need our help, please call us at (312) 346-5320 or fill out the form to the right. It’s always free and confidential.

Cheers!

Full disclosure, I’m a soccer nut.  I’ve traveled the world to support the U.S. Men’s and Women’s National Teams and never miss a televised game.  I’m also a dad and a hater of dumb laws that aren’t well thought through.  So while I am soccer crazy and want the U.S. Men to win a World Cup in my lifetime, I have to call out the United States Soccer Federation (“USSF”) for putting in place a mandatory rule that will discourage kids from playing soccer.

Currently there are approximately 3 million youth soccer players aged 5-19, 85% of whom are under the age of 14.  This does not include more than 600,000 who play AYSO, which is pure recreational soccer. The great majority of these players will never play professionally, and having been a youth coach for five plus years, I can tell you that the great majority don’t have that as their goal.  I coached a pretty competitive team last year full of amazing kids, and when I asked them their favorite thing about playing, the runaway winner was “playing with my friends.”

From that list of 3 million youth players, 52% are male, which comes to 1,560,000 players.  According to Wikipedia, there are currently 559 male professional players born in the United States playing somewhere in the world for money.  From that list, there are 26 players from Illinois, four from our neighbor Indiana, two from Iowa and six from Wisconsin.  So your odds of becoming a pro, even if you are a stud player, aren’t that great.  I watch a crazy amount of soccer, and I’ve never heard of any of the six from Wisconsin.  None of them play for major clubs so while they may have aspirations, they aren’t yet making a real living at soccer.

The point I’m trying to make is that while it’s great to strive to be an amazing soccer country, the rules of YOUTH soccer should not be changed to help the .036% that will play professionally, most of whom will not even play for Major League Soccer.

What the USSF wants to do is to group kids by the calendar year in which they were born.  That may not sound like a big deal to you, but currently, the USSF  groups kids by the grade they are in.  The calendar for the current grade-level system runs from August 1 to July 31st which mirrors (or is at least close to) how most schools recommend you place your child in a grade. So a child born October 20, 2005 would currently be a u10 player, as would a child born March 10, 2006.

The way age brackets are currently set up makes sense, because the two kids in my example would likely be in the same grade.  Most youth clubs enroll kids from a relatively small geographic area, and the kids I’ve coached love that they get to play with their classmates and friends from their neighborhood.  It encourages their soccer development because it’s more fun and they may end up playing soccer together at recess.  It also gives them more common ground on the soccer field.  The experiences of a 5th grade elementary student are much different than that of a sixth grade middle school child.  In general, these kids just want to be with their friends.  If they can’t do it in soccer, they’ll do it in basketball, lacrosse, baseball or something else.  Most of these kids, even the amazing players, don’t just play one sport and the USSF shouldn’t motivate them to pick a different sport.

As kids get older, it also makes sense from a practical standpoint to organize by grade.  Once you hit high school, club soccer stops during the high school soccer season.  I’m in favor of that, because only the elite kids should be playing club ball year round at that age and the rest should be encouraged to play for their school.  What will happen with the USSF change to calendar year, is that club teams will be made up of 8th graders and freshman in high school.  The 8th graders won’t have enough teammates to play during the high school season (which is about four months) because you aren’t allowed to do both at the same time.  So what will happen is good players won’t be able to play and develop which is surely against the goal of this reform.

The same problem will happen to older high school seniors.  Anyone who is going to turn 18 before December 31 would be considered a u19 player, whereas before they’d be considered u18. In most places, their former teammates will be off to college or working, so they too will have great challenges when it comes to fielding a complete team.  Many just won’t be able to play.

The goal of this change is to mirror how leagues are run in other countries, as well as to align with how national team age groups are made.  That might work well in another country, but the difference is that in places like Brazil, England, Germany, Spain, etc., soccer is “the sport.”  You don’t make it “the sport” in the United States by forcing kids away from their friends.

I also wouldn’t discount the fact that many kids in the U.S. are signed up for teams not because their parents love soccer, but because they hear that one or more of their kid’s classmates signed up to play. Your social circle as a parent often becomes the parents of the kids who go to school with your kids.  If they learn that their six year old can’t play with their friend, just because they were born in different years, they’ll be more likely to have them do some other sport or activity, especially if they can only make it work via carpooling.

Growing up in Chicago, I was a lousy back up goalkeeper on an amazing team.  My senior year we finished second in the state. The top juggler on our team had a high of around 200 juggles which we all thought was amazing. Now the top nine year old on my son’s team has a high of 700 and there is another kid who can do 400.  Kids today are much more talented than the ones I grew up playing with, and I played against US soccer great Brian McBride, and with and against a bunch of kids who played high level college soccer.

The point from the little juggling tale is that the soccer development for interested kids right now is incredible. I didn’t start playing year round soccer until high school.  Now kids as young as six can play year round.  I used to think that was nuts, but then I met some dance moms and learned about their daughters’ crazy schedules.  American kids now are amazingly more skilled, and thanks to all of the soccer on TV and on the internet, they get to watch incredible players all of the time.  So the foundation has been laid to create some incredible, world class players, and it wouldn’t surprise me at all, if in 10 years, there were more than 1,000 American citizens who played professional soccer.

What the USSF has done well is create competitive academies where the best players can be pushed and thrive.  This, in turn, has lead to great instruction and technical and tactical development.  They are changing the focus from winning to development, and having younger players participate in games with fewer players (e.g., 4v4 instead of 6v6) so they get more opportunities to touch the ball.  I would like to see them also mandate roster sizes so kids get more playing time.

What the USSF has done terribly is change the rules for the sake of the .036% at the expense of the three million who will never play professionally and don’t want to.  This new rule, which will be mandatory by 2017 if it’s not reversed, does not meet the goal of developing better players.  It simply serves to discourage good young athletes and drive them to choose other sports or activities.  It’s no better than a terrible law on child support or anything else.  And if you see a terrible law, you need to speak up before it causes great harm.  According to U.S. Soccer Youth Technical Director, Tab Ramos, this change will help the Federation identify potential players for national teams.  So again, we are going to mess up the experience for almost everyone for the sake of a few. It’s also a cop out as the rule does nothing to identify the strongest players as most of those will be playing up an age group anyway.

In my own life, I have a son who is pretty talented at soccer, although I have no illusions of him going pro and, quite honestly, just want him to love the sport and hopefully play it or something else in high school.  He’s also a strong basketball player and, unlike me, is not destined to be a six-foot power forward.  His two best friends with whom he has played soccer with since they were five, are born in different calendar years. My son was born in 2006, and was told that when this is implemented, he can choose to play with the 2006-born boys or the 2005-born boys since he’s a strong player.  Either way, one of the three amigos will be without the other two.  His two buddies also play hockey and baseball.  It would not surprise me at all if the one who gets left behind focuses on his other sport.

Of course kids can play soccer without their best friends, and one day it might happen anyway.  But why would USSF make that happen sooner than it has to, especially for pre-teens?  It’s a terrible rule which hurts kids, hurts the game and should be reversed.