It’s been about 24 years since I started working as a lawyer. My first job was with a mid-sized firm and they provided me with a lot of training. I had a mentor, a supervisor and was just a shadow for my first couple of months. They brought me along very slowly.  I wasn’t in a position to give clients legal advice until I had been there for almost six months.

I remember having classmates who had a completely opposite experience.  We were sworn in to practice law on November 6 which was a Thursday and some of my friends were in court handling actual cases on Friday.  They were with smaller firms who when we interviewed told us that they wanted us to get real world experience right away and be “thrown in to the fire.”

At the time it seemed exciting and I was a little bit jealous. I was looking at solely from the standpoint of what I wanted to do or my classmates wanted to do. Being young and inexperienced, I wasn’t thinking about who mattered most; the client.

Is it possible a young lawyer can do a good job on a case? Sure it’s possible. Maybe they are so eager that they go way overboard and give you the best representation possible. More likely though is that they don’t know what they don’t know and that is going to harm you.

There is one Chicago workers’ compensation firm that is notorious for hiring newer attorneys and just throwing them in to the fire. I get a lot of calls from their clients when their attorney can’t answer questions or doesn’t seem to know what they are talking about. In one case they failed to advise a fired worker about the time limits for bringing a case before the EEOC and didn’t refer them to a proper lawyer. In another instead of explaining how a settlement would work, they just asked the client what they wanted. I’ve seen dozens of cases where they’ve screwed up badly or left a lot of money on the table.

For the young attorneys they do get experience, but they make mistakes while practicing on your real life situation.  You aren’t paying a lower attorney fee in most cases, so there’s no reason to get representation that isn’t what it should be.

Often these firms will tell you that the lawyer is working under the supervision of a more seasoned person. But if that’s true then why can’t you just have the experienced lawyer and why do they never seem to be available to you?

The bottom line is that I’d be very wary of hiring a lawyer who hasn’t been in practice for at least three years.  We usually don’t recommend anyone with less than five years experience and most attorneys we suggest have been in practice for more than ten years.  Attorneys never stop learning and won’t ever know everything, but you want the learning curve to be as small as possible.  It’s your case and your life. Insisting on an attorney with a proven track record is the safest way to go.

Last month, 22 lawyers were voted for positions as Associate Judge in Cook County.  It’s not the public that votes for them, but instead the 249 sitting Judges in Cook County.  These associate Judges have mostly the same responsibilities as regular Judges, but typically don’t hear felony cases and earn slightly less.  Here is the list of the new Judges.  See if you can pick out what the most common trait is:

Marcia M. Meis, director of the Administrative Office of the Illinois Courts, announced the judges were selected in a vote of Cook County Circuit Court judges from a ballot of 44 finalists, distributed to 249 circuit judges.

The new judges are:

Maryam Ahmad, of Chicago, 57. Admitted to the Bar: 2000. College: Chatham College. Law School: DePaul University College of Law. Current Affiliation: Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office.

Lloyd J. Brooks, 50, of Homewood. Admitted to the Bar: 2000. College: University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Law School: Northwestern University Pritzker School of Law. Current Affiliation: The Brooks Law Firm.

Barbara L. Dawkins, 49, of Homewood. Admitted to the Bar: 1998. College: Northwestern University. Law School: Vanderbilt Law School. Current Affiliation: Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office.

James T. Derico, Jr., 61, of Chicago. Admitted to the Bar: 1985. College: University of Notre Dame. Law School: University of Pennsylvania Law School. Current Affiliation: Derico & Associates.

Sabra L. Ebersole, 54, of River Forest. Admitted to the Bar: 1993. College: Loyola University Chicago. Law School: DePaul University College of Law. Current Affiliation: Law Office of Sabra Ebersole.

Carl L. Evans, Jr., 55, of Tinley Park. Admitted to the Bar: 1993. College: Northern Illinois University. Law School: The John Marshall Law School. Current Affiliation: Law Offices of Carl Evans, Jr.

William N. Fahy, 58, of Chicago. Admitted to the Bar: 1990. College: Northern Illinois University. Law School: The John Marshall Law School. Current Affiliation: Law Office of William N. Fahy, Ltd.

Barbara N. Flores, 44, of Chicago. Admitted to the Bar: 2004. College: University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Law School: HT/Chicago-Kent College of Law. Current Affiliation: Illinois Workers’ Compensation Commission.

Mitchell B. Goldberg, 47, of Chicago. Admitted to the Bar: 1999. College: DePaul University. Law School: DePaul University College of Law. Current Affiliation: Lawrence Kamin, LLC.

Jasmine V. Hernandez, 41, of Chicago. Admitted to the Bar: 2008. College: Boston University. Law School: University of Illinois College of Law. Current Affiliation: U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.

Matthew W. Jannusch, 46, of Chicago. Admitted to the Bar: 2001. College: North Central College. Law School: Northern Illinois University College of Law. Current Affiliation: Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office.

Martha-Victoria Jimenez, 46, of Chicago. Admitted to the Bar: 2002. College: University of Illinois at Chicago. Law School: University of Illinois College of Law. Current Affiliation: Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office.

Diana E. Lopez, 46, of Chicago. Admitted to the Bar: 2001. College: University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Law School: Loyola University Chicago School of Law. Current Affiliation: Lopez Law Group, P.C.

Kerrie E. Maloney Laytin, 50, of Chicago. Admitted to the Bar: 1998. College: New York University. Law School: Columbia University School of Law. Current Affiliation: Illinois Human Rights Commission.

Thomas A. Morrissey, 62, of Riverside. Admitted to the Bar: 1985. College: Marquette University. Law School: DePaul University College of Law. Current Affiliation: Law Offices of Thomas A. Morrissey.

James B. Novy, 51, of Chicago. Admitted to the Bar: 1997. College: Loyola University Chicago. Law School: Northern Illinois University College of Law. Current Affiliation: Rock Fusco & Connelly, LLC.

Eric M. Sauceda, 48, of Bartlett. Admitted to the Bar: 1999. College: DePaul University. Law School: University of Illinois College of Law. Current Affiliation: Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office.

Theresa M. Smith Conyers, 49, of Chicago. Admitted to the Bar: 1999. College: University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Law School: University of Illinois College of Law. Current Affiliation: City of Chicago Department of Law.

Ankur Srivastava, 41, of Glenview. Admitted to the Bar: 2005. College: Northwestern University. Law School: Yale Law School. Current Affiliation: U.S. Attorney’s Office.

Pamela J. Stratigakis, 45, of Chicago. Admitted to the Bar: 2001. College: Loyola University Chicago. Law School: DePaul University College of Law. Current Affiliation: Lewis, Brisbois, Bisgaard and Smith, LLP.

Anthony C. Swanagan, 61, of Flossmoor. Admitted to the Bar: 1987. College: Northwestern University. Law School: University of Chicago Law School. Current Affiliation: Illinois Attorney General’s Office.

Andreana A. Turano, 54, of Northfield. Admitted to the Bar: 1993. College: University of Chicago. Law School: The John Marshall Law School. Current Affiliation: Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office.

Of those 22 new Judges, 11 come from Government positions, with most of those being former prosecutors. Not one of them is a public defender.  To me this is a problem.

We should want a diverse judiciary. Not just diverse in gender or race, but also in legal background.  Public defenders bring a different perspective to the bench than those who have spent their time trying to put people in jail.

I can’t say that any of these Judges aren’t qualified or won’t do a good job. I don’t know most of them. But the problem is that they are elected by Judges who have a similar background to them and in many cases by Judges who used to work with them as prosecutors.  This of course keeps like minded people in these positions which in my opinion is a bad idea.

I don’t think the process will ever change, but it would be nice if someone would advocate for all sorts of backgrounds for these very important positions.

While most of the Illinois attorneys I come across are honest and do their best for their clients, the reality is that when you have over 90,000 lawyers, some will be unethical.  It bothers me because it taints the whole profession and makes the public not trust attorneys. While the reality is that it’s a few bad apples, not a bad orchard, the perception is the opposite.

The good news is that unethical lawyers do get disciplined and some permanently lose their license. The ARDC just handed down some discipline and the following, via the Chicago Daily Law Bulletin, lists why. I was disturbed by the end of the legal career of Bryan Flangel. I had cases with him years ago and he seemed like a decent guy. The reality though is you never know what someone is going through personally or financially and why they act the way they do.  I don’t know what happened to him (or anyone on this list), but it is all unfortunate.  And in some cases, I do wonder how people stay out of jail because some of these are straight up theft.

Disbarred

Of the six attorneys disbarred, two involved cases including out-of-state misconduct. All but two were disbarred on consent.

Barry Edward Blumenfeld of Chicago, licensed in 1967, was disbarred on consent. He converted more than $67,000 in settlement funds that belonged to a client and third parties in a workers’ compensation matter and made a false statement to the ARDC during its investigation.

Bryan S. Flangel of Chicago, licensed in 1992, was disbarred on consent. While representing clients in personal injury matters, he provided financial assistance to two clients, misrepresented the status of matters to at least two clients, and signed a client’s name on a settlement release without authority.

James Mark McTighe of Tinley Park, licensed in 1991, was disbarred on consent. He converted more than $29,000 in client funds to his own use, falsely reported the status of cases and settlements to his clients, and neglected a number of insurance subrogation matters.

Michael Bernard Potere of West Newton, Mass., was licensed in Illinois in 2012 and in California in 2015. He was disbarred by the Supreme Court of California because of his attempt to extort more than $200,000 from his employer. His actions resulted in a misdemeanor conviction and five-month prison sentence for the federal crime of unauthorized access to a computer to obtain information. The Illinois Supreme Court imposed reciprocal discipline and entered an order disbarring him in Illinois.

John George Steckel of Rock Island, licensed in 2000, was disbarred on consent. He pleaded guilty in two Rock Island County cases to charges of possession of a controlled substance and delivery of methamphetamine. The Illinois Supreme Court said his disbarment on consent was retroactive to his interim suspension from practice on Jan. 29, 2019.

Henry A. Weber of Lake Forest, licensed in 1984, was disbarred. He has felony convictions in Florida for theft of sales tax. While operating a chain of restaurants in the Tampa area, he unlawfully withheld more than $100,000 in sales tax that should have been remitted to the state of Florida. Weber did not participate in his Illinois disciplinary proceedings.

Suspended

Six of the 19 suspended lawyers were licensed in both Illinois and another state. The misconduct in those cases resulted in disciplinary rulings in the respective other states.

Craig Carnell Cunningham of Naperville, licensed in 1994, was suspended for six months effective Oct. 14, 2021. A disciplinary investigation was opened against him because of fraudulent activity. Cunningham manages his own law firm and did not review his law firms accounts, nor did he know the source of funds in those accounts or how the funds were expended. His wife is a paralegal at the firm and fraudulently opened accounts in the firm’s name using names of relatives. The funds from those accounts were used to pay for law firm and personal expenses. Cunningham also made false statements to the ARDC.

Lisa Michelle Edgar of San Ramon, Calif., was licensed in Illinois in 1990 and in California in 2005. She was suspended for one year by the California Supreme Court, with a one-year period of probation subject to conditions, for employing a former California attorney who resigned from the bar with disciplinary charges pending. Edgar permitted the attorney to handle client funds over an eight-month period. She also filed a brief on appeal in a client’s immigration matter without complying with mandatory legal authority concerning claims of ineffective assistance of counsel. The Illinois Supreme Court imposed reciprocal discipline and suspended her for one year, with the suspension stayed in its entirety by a one-year period of probation, retroactive to Nov. 21, 2020, subject to the conditions imposed in California, and continuing until she completes her California probation.

Stephen Thomas Fieweger of Davenport, Iowa, was licensed in Illinois in 1987 and in Iowa in 1989. He was suspended for 30 days by the Supreme Court of Iowa for failing to communicate with a client, collecting an unauthorized fee in a Social Security disability benefits matter, neglecting a client’s case, and mishandling client funds. The Illinois Supreme Court imposed reciprocal discipline and suspended him for 30 days effective Oct. 14.

Stephanie Alexandra Gerstetter of Chicago, licensed in 2018, was suspended for 60 days effective Oct. 14 for misconduct while working as an associate at a law firm. During this time she submitted false billing records totaling just over 86 hours, which resulted in overbilling a client more than $40,000. The law firm refunded the client’s overpayment.

Nathaniel Gordon of Chicago, licensed in 2010 and suspended for one year or until further order of the court, stayed after six months by a six-month period of conditional probation effective Oct. 14. He failed to file a brief in his client’s criminal appeal and did not refund the fees he received for the representation. He also made misrepresentations to a client, a third party, and the ARDC, including fabricating a file-stamp to make it appear that he had filed the brief.

Donald George Groble of Chicago, licensed in 1989, was suspended for two years or until further order of the Court, which is an indefinite suspension. He is required to petition for reinstatement after the fixed period of suspension ends. His misconduct was over the course of five months in which he misappropriated more than $30,000 from a supplemental needs trust established for a disabled client.

Jessica Lynn Jones of Bloomington, licensed in 2014, was suspended for nine months, effective Oct. 14. She failed to act diligently on a client’s domestic relations matter, failed to adequately communicate with the client, and filed a pleading in the case containing false statements. She also engaged in the unauthorized practice of law for approximately two months after having been removed from the roll of attorneys for failure to register, and she made false statements to the ARDC during its investigation.

Mark Vincent Kelly of Alpha, licensed in 1987, was suspended for three months effective Oct. 14. Kelly knowingly misappropriated $2,230 over 10 weeks, funds he had agreed to hold in escrow pursuant to his work as an attorney agent for a title company. No client lost money due to his misconduct.

Carrie Kooi of Crown Point, Ind. was licensed in Indiana in 2009 and in Illinois in 2010. The Indiana Supreme Court suspended her for 90 days, beginning Nov. 23, 2020, with 30 days of that suspension to be actively served and the remainder stayed subject to completion of at least two years of conditional probation. Her discipline arose from her conviction for battery resulting in bodily injury for struggling and twice spitting on a police officer who had taken her to a hospital for a blood draw after stopping her on suspicion of impaired driving. The Illinois Supreme Court imposed reciprocal discipline and suspended her for 90 days, with the suspension stayed after 30 days by a two-year period of probation, retroactive to Nov. 23, 2020, subject to the conditions imposed in Indiana, and continuing until her probation in Indiana is terminated. The suspension is effective Oct.14.

Cynthia Jean Koroll of Rockford was licensed in 2001 and suspended for six months, with the suspension stayed after 60 days in favor of a one-year period of conditional probation, effective Oct. 14. Over a period of approximately three weeks in 2015, she sent dozens of emails, text messages, and other communications to attorneys in Florida with whom she was then engaged in a dispute. Many of those messages were vulgar, profane, abusive, included anti-Semitic remarks, and served no purpose other than to harass or burden their recipients. Also, in 2013, she was disqualified from representing a party in a post decree domestic relations case because her former law partner had been representing the man’s spouse while they were members of the same firm.

Peter J. Kovac of Milwaukee, Wis., was licensed in both Illinois and Wisconsin in 1973. The Supreme Court of Wisconsin, in two disciplinary proceedings, imposed concurrent five-month suspensions for neglecting a client’s matter, failing to return or forward client files in four matters, and failing to respond to demands for information from the Wisconsin Office of Lawyer Regulation in five investigations. The Illinois Supreme Court imposed reciprocal discipline and suspended Kovac for five months, effective Oct. 14.

John Paul Paleczny of Chicago, licensed in 2018, was suspended for one year and until he completes the ARDC’s professionalism seminar, effective Oct. 14. As an associate at a Chicago law firm, he falsely billed more than 2,000 hours of time to a pro bono matter that had ended, which resulted in his being terminated. When seeking other employment, he falsely told at least four prospective employers that he had been laid off from his prior firm.

Matthew Clay Piatt of Galveston, Ind., was licensed in Illinois in 2011 and in Indiana in 2015. The Indiana Supreme Court suspended him for 180 days, with the suspension stayed after 90 days by a term of conditional probation of at least two years. His misconduct includes multiple acts of public intoxication and operating a vehicle while intoxicated, and his failure to notify the Indiana disciplinary authority of one of his arrests for that conduct. The Illinois Supreme Court imposed reciprocal discipline and suspended him for 180 days, with the suspension stayed after 90 days by a two-year period of probation, retroactive to Jan. 14, 2021, subject to the conditions imposed in Indiana, and continuing until his probation in Indiana is terminated, effective on Oct. 14.

Brian Davis Pondenis of Charleston, S.C., was licensed in 2006 and suspended for one year and until further order of the Court. His suspension is an indefinite suspension which requires him to petition for reinstatement after the fixed period of suspension ends. In electronic messages with a former client’s girlfriend, he revealed information pertaining to his representation of that former client and made improper and abusive statements to the girlfriend. He also made improper and abusive statements to his landlord and the landlord’s wife in electronic messages while representing himself in an eviction matter pertaining to his law office.

Veronica Reyes of Aurora, Colo., was licensed in Illinois in 2009 and in Colorado in 2010. The Presiding Disciplinary Judge of the Supreme Court of Colorado suspended her for one year and one day, with the suspension stayed after six months by two years of probation, subject to certain conditions. She mishandled client funds, failed to communicate with clients, and failed to supervise a person working in her law firm. The Illinois Supreme Court imposed reciprocal discipline and suspended her for one year and until further order of the Court, with the suspension stayed after six months by two years of probation, retroactive to March 19, 2019, subject to the conditions imposed in Colorado and continuing until her Colorado probation has ended, effective Oct. 14.

Edward Sergio Rueda of Chicago was licensed in 2011 and suspended from the practice of law for one year, with suspension stayed after 30 days in favor of a two-year period of probation, effective Oct.14. Between March and May 2018, he converted more than $15,000 in four client matters due in part to his failure to keep appropriate trust account records.

Efrain L. Sanchez of Naperville was licensed in Illinois in 2003 and in Missouri in 2010. The Supreme Court of Missouri suspended him indefinitely with no petition for reinstatement to be considered for six months for mishandling client funds and engaging in the unauthorized practice of law. The Illinois Supreme Court imposed reciprocal discipline and suspended him for six months and until he is reinstated to the practice of law in Missouri, effective Oct. 14.

Brian Keith Sides of Champaign was licensed in 2002 and suspended on an interim basis and until further order of the Court. He was found by the ARDC’s Hearing Board to have made false or reckless statements about the integrity and qualifications of a federal bankruptcy judge in nine motions and to have engaged in conduct prejudicial to the administration of justice.

Andrew Martin Stroth of Chicago was licensed in 2001 and suspended for 30 days, effective Oct. 14. He was also ordered to take the ARDC’s professionalism seminar. He failed to pursue a client’s personal injury case, allowing the statute of limitations to expire. He also provided money to the client as a loan against an anticipated settlement and then as a purported settlement. He falsely told his client that he had communicated with an insurance claims adjuster, and he made false statements to the ARDC.

Probation

Barbara Julia Luther of Scottsdale, Ariz., was licensed in Illinois in 1989 and in Arizona in 2004. The Chair of the Attorney Discipline Probable Cause Committee of the Supreme Court of Arizona admonished her and placed her on a two-year period of conditional probation because she did not provide legal services to a client after being paid to conduct a trademark search and review. She also did not communicate with clients about the status of their matters, inform her clients that she was closing her law practice, timely refund advanced fees that she had not earned, or safe keep client funds. The Illinois Supreme Court imposed reciprocal discipline and reprimanded her and placed her on probation for two years, retroactive to Jan. 23, 2020, subject to the conditions imposed by Arizona, and until she successfully completes her Arizona probation.

Reprimanded

John Anthony Ward of Kenosha, Wis., was licensed in Illinois in 1986 and in Wisconsin in 1985. The Wisconsin Supreme Court publicly reprimanded him for failing to file a written motion seeking a change of venue as directed by his client in a visitation rights case, charging an unreasonable fee, and failing to refund the unearned portion of that fee after his client had terminated his services. In a separate disciplinary matter, a referee appointed by the Wisconsin Supreme Court issued a public reprimand against him for failing to promptly refund unearned fees to clients in two separate matters and mishandling client funds. The Supreme Court of Illinois imposed reciprocal discipline and censured him.

Alan Kent Wittig of Queen Creek, Ariz., was licensed in Illinois in 1992 and in Arizona in 1997. In two separate matters, Arizona disciplinary authorities disciplined him. In a 2018 matter, he was admonished and placed on probation for two years for failing to notify a third party of his receipt of funds in which the third party had an interest and failing to distribute funds. In a 2019 matter, he was admonished for failing to distribute funds to a person owed the funds and not reasonably communicating with his client. The Supreme Court of Illinois imposed reciprocal discipline and censured him, as his Arizona probation had ended.

If you were working with any of these lawyers, especially the ones that are disbarred or suspended, you should immediately seek new representation.

Some lawyers are just lazy.  That is a fact. Others know they aren’t doing what they know is in the best interests of their clients.  Nowhere do we see this more than with family law attorneys, specifically when it comes to getting pensions or 401k’s of your spouse.

When you get divorced in Illinois, it’s your attorney’s job to take care of EVERY issue that the case involves.  It’s not just dividing up property or dealing with child custody. If either spouse had a pension, 401k or other retirement account during the marriage, that is a marital asset.  Approximately half of what was earned during the marriage is owed to each spouse.

It’s not as simple as agreeing to that to make it happen.  There is a formula that needs to be worked up. It takes some time, isn’t fun and for whatever reason, many lawyers choose not to do it. As a result we get a lot of calls from divorced people who need to address retirement account issues.

These callers need a QILDRO or a QDRO.  A QILDRO is short for Qualified Illinois Domestic Relations Orders. It applies to public workers such as teachers, City of Chicago employees, etc.  It is a court order that directs the pension fund to pay a former spouse or other dependent, all or a portion of a member’s retirement benefit or a lump sum death benefit. A QILDRO is usually issued at the time of divorce and sent to the member’s retirement system where it is recorded and retained until the member applies for a refund, retirement benefit, or dies.  Or in many cases it’s not done during the divorce and another attorney has to step in and do it.

A QDRO is short for qualified domestic relief order. It’s similar to a QILDRO but is used for 401k’s, IRA’s and other retirement accounts. By using this process it allows each spouse to retain the deferred tax benefits of the plan.  Nobody automatically gets a QDRO. You have to ask the Judge for it and then file the QDRO form which asks for a right to a portion of the account.

It’s best to file these forms during the divorce or as soon as possible so your ex doesn’t empty the account.  If it’s not done during the divorce, you likely will have to petition to re-open the case.  When that happens, the laziness of your original attorney ends up costing you more money than you would have spent had they just done their job correctly in the first place.

The reality is that many law firms won’t finish the job that other law firms started. If you are getting a divorce, raise this issue with your attorney before you hire them. If they say they don’t do QDRO’s or QILDROS, don’t hire them. If you need to find a lawyer who will handle these forms and do a good job for you, call us at 312-346-5320 to speak with an experienced attorney for free.

Are there better professionals than nurses? If you’ve ever been in a hospital or had a loved one who needed care, you’d likely agree with me that 99% of nurses do a great job and are often the stars of the show.

There are some that don’t do a good job and others that do a great job, but still get complaints against them with the Illinois Department of Professional and Financial Regulations.  That is the licensing board that can discipline professionals in Illinois and could take away a nursing license.  We have helped hundred of nurses over the years who have ethical complaints filed against them. In no particular order, these are the top reasons nurses end up under investigation by the IDFPR.

  1. Drug or alcohol abuse. If it becomes clear that you are abusing drugs or alcohol, it can put patients at risk. This often is revealed through a drug test or by erratic behavior. In some cases you are having a bad day and they try to claim you have a problem when you don’t.
  2. Drug theft. This could be a sign that you are abusing drugs or it could be that you are selling them for money.  Either way, if prescription drugs you are responsible for go missing it will almost certainly lead to an ethical violation complaint at the IDFPR.
  3. Patient abuse. If a family member isn’t happy with how their loved one is treated, especially if there is bruising or an injury, you can’t be surprised when a claim of abuse is filed.
  4. Failure to report. Whether it’s a criminal conviction, termination for cause from employment or out of state disciplinary issue, a failure to report can ultimately lead to a loss of your nursing license in Illinois.
  5. Standard of care violations. While these can also lead to malpractice lawsuits, if you deviate from acceptable standards of patient care it may show such neglect that a disciplinary investigation could take place.
  6. Unprofessional conduct. Of late we see complaints against LPN’s, CNA’s etc. for rudeness, racism allegations, yelling, etc.
  7. Personal boundary violations. In plain English, you can’t have intimate relations with a patient.

An allegation for any of these can sound scary and it should as your professional life is on the line.  The good news is that there is a process of both an investigation and potentially a hearing.  The worst thing you can do is try to explain away what happened or represent yourself.  As the old saying goes, anything you say can and will be used against you. While there are very few Illinois attorneys experienced with defending nurses before the state, the ones that do it regularly have a great track record of success.

If you would like our recommendation of which attorney to hire for an allegation before the IDFPR or if you just have questions, please contact us at 312-346-5320. We help nurses everywhere in Illinois.

It used to primarily be that if you had a job that was your only job.  You’d work 9 to 5 and go home to your life.  That’s certainly not how things are now. We are in the era of grinding and it’s not uncommon for people to have two or even three jobs.

If you are injured while working in Illinois and have more than one job, that could be a huge factor in your case.   Your payments for time off work and any settlement are based on what your wages are.  So if you have two jobs, you’ll want to make sure that your pay from both is included. That’s not automatic and there are other things you really need to know if you are in that situation. Here are some big ones:

1. Let’s say you primarily work at FedEx, but have a part time job tending bar. If you get hurt at FedEx and want your second job income to be included in your work comp claim, you have to show that FedEx was aware of that other job. If they weren’t, those wages won’t get included nor would they if they told you that you can’t have a second job and you did it any way.

2. The same would be true if you were hurt on your part time job.

3. If they are aware of your other job then both wages should be calculated in paying your time off work (temporary total disability benefits or TTD).

4. If you are hurt on job #1, but can work job #2, your TTD payments would only be based on your inability to work job #1, but both wages would be used in calculating your settlement rate.

5. If you are hurt on job #1 but can still do that job, but not job #2, you should get partial TTD payments for your loss from that job.

6. If you are hurt on job #1 and can work only job #2, you need to be very sure that the job you can work won’t make your injury worse. If it does then it could screw up your work comp claim.  Let’s say your main job is in a factory and you can’t work that job because it requires lifting over 20 pounds.  If your second job is at a grocery store and they say you won’t have to lift more than 20 pounds, if your injury gets worse from the lifting you can do, it will screw things up. So in most cases I’d suggest you only work a really sedentary job if you have serious restrictions.

7. When it comes to settlement time, it’s important to consider how your injury will affect both jobs and your ability to work in the future. Failure to do this correctly could cost you tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars.

These are some of the main things to consider, but there are others as well. If you’d like to speak with an experienced attorney for free, please contact us any time at 312-346-5320. We cover all of Illinois.

There is a really bad Chicago personal injury law firm that I recently saw advertising looking for a lawyer with at least two years of experience to handle injury cases. First off, if you are in an accident, you don’t want a lawyer with only two years of experience on your case. The lawyer fee is the same no matter which attorney handles your case.  So you are better off with someone who has experience and not much to learn represent you.

Second, my very educated guess is that this job posting is in response to an order from the Chief Judge of Cook County.  It was ruled earlier this year that all personal injury cases estimated to be worth less than $50,000.00 are required to go to mandatory arbitration.  This is in part because of the huge back load of cases due to trials being delayed by Covid.

What this means is that there about to be a ton of hearings and a lot of these high volume, crappy Chicago law firms are not going to be able to handle them. So they may have a need to hire lawyers and throw them in to the fire on cases they aren’t familiar with. In other words, some people who have been dealing with one attorney for months or years are about to have their fate decided by a lawyer they’ve never spoken to.

Good car accident attorneys keep their case volume manageable and don’t take every case that walks through the door.  A lot of these law firms that heavily advertise and take almost any case that comes through the door are about to have a lot of unhappy clients.

Mandatory arbitration requires you to accept what the arbitrators decide or risk that if you go to trial and do worse you will have to pay the fees of the defendant’s lawyers. In other words, you are almost surely going to have to accept the arbitration result.

Arbitration is like a trial. You will testify. There is evidence. It’s really important that you have an attorney who knows your case and is not only prepared for the hearing, but also prepares you.   While bad execution at arbitration won’t cost you hundreds of thousands, it could be the difference between $50,000 and nothing.

My advice to you is that you need to insist on an experienced lawyer to handle your case and if the firm you hired won’t provide one, you probably need to find a new attorney before it’s too late.

If you have any questions or want to speak with a lawyer for free, contact us any time in confidence at 312-346-5320.

We get a lot of calls from people looking to sue their lawyer. We are happy to bring on a legal malpractice case if it’s a good one. In most of the calls though we hear about bad customer service, lack of effort or bad results on a case. Those things are unfortunate, but don’t usually rise to the standard needed to successfully sue your attorney in Illinois.

Many of the people who call us really just don’t want their lawyer to “get away with it.” If they’ve done something unethical or illegal, the proper place to go is the Attorney Registration and Disciplinary Commission. They aren’t going to suspend a lawyer for not returning a couple of phone calls, but they might if they skip court, abandon a case or steal from you.

These excerpts are from the Chicago Daily Law Bulletin and highlight reasons some lawyers have recently either lost their license or been temporarily suspended:

The high court disbarred four attorneys. They are:

— John L. Allen of Bedford, N.H., who also is licensed in New Hampshire, on a reciprocal basis. Allen abandoned his law practice and misappropriated about $690,000 he had agreed to hold in trust. He also transferred about $943,000 from his client trust accounts to his operating account and commingled $350,000 of operating account funds with client funds. M.R. 30741.

— Michael Lee Henneberry of Walnut, Ill., by consent. Henneberry made sexually explicit comments to a client he was representing as a court-appointed defense counsel, touched her without her permission and masturbated in front of her. He also pleaded guilty to a criminal charge of providing alcohol to a minor. M.R. 30711.

— Radford Reuben Raines III of O’Fallon, Mo., who also is licensed in Missouri, on a reciprocal basis. Raines failed to pay fees to a deceased lawyer’s trust for work the lawyer had done on cases before Raines took them over. M.R. 30708.

— Nikola Duric of Park Ridge. Duric misappropriated more than $400,000 in funds belonging to clients and third parties, neglected client matters and failed to return unearned fees. He was suspended on an interim basis in Oct. 2020. M.R. 30734.

The Supreme Court suspended 10 other attorneys this month. They are:

— Dwight A. White of Chicago, two years and until further court order, stayed after one year for three years of conditional probation. White converted nearly $14,000 belonging to two clients, failed to return unearned fees, neglected three clients’ cases and failed to put two contingent fee agreements into writing. The suspension begins June 8. M.R. 30721.

— Marie A. Durbin of St. Louis, who also is licensed in Missouri, one year and until she is reinstated to Missouri’s bar. The Missouri Supreme Court suspended Durbin indefinitely and barred her from seeking reinstatement for at least a year. Durbin missed the deadline for filing a workers’ compensation claim on behalf of a client, lied to the client about the matter and failed to respond to disciplinary authorities’ complaint about her conduct. The suspension begins June 8. M.R. 30694.

— Howard Randolph Baker Jr. of Decatur, one year and until further court order, with the suspension entirely stayed by two years of conditional probation. After failing to meet discovery deadlines in a client’s dissolution-of-marriage case, Baker blamed the failure on his own mental health problems and falsely claimed he was in therapy. M.R. 30704.

— Jeffrey P. White of Auburn, Maine, who also is licensed in Maine, nine months and a reprimand, on a reciprocal basis. White neglected two client matters and hid from a bankruptcy court the attorney fees a client had paid him. The suspension begins June 8. M.R. 30656.

— Shelby Kanarish of Scottsdale, Ariz., who also is licensed in Arizona, six months and until he is reinstated to the Arizona bar, on a reciprocal basis. Kanarish was suspended in Arizona for six months and one day, followed by probation. After settling a personal injury case, Kanarish made false statements about his purported fees to disciplinary officials and to a doctor seeking to be paid for services he had provided Kanarish’s clients. The suspension begins June 8. M.R. 30764.

— Jennifer Prager Sodaro of Scottsdale, Ariz., who also is licensed in Arizona, six months followed by two years of conditional probation, on a reciprocal basis. Sodaro contacted a represented party and sent a letter to a judge presiding over a case in which she was involved accusing the opposing party’s lawyer of lying. She also disbursed the proceeds of a home sale without permission. The suspension begins June 8. M.R. 30600.

— William Briskin Kohn of Highland Park, six months, with the suspension stayed after 90 days for one year of conditional probation. Kohn did not respond by the deadline to summary judgment motions filed by the opposing party in a business dispute and did not file a brief in the appeal that followed. The suspension begins June 8. M.R. 30730.

— Joseph C. Farwell of Schaumburg, 90 days. While in the process of shutting down his law firm, Farwell converted more than $8,000 he was holding for a client and did not return the money until the client complained to the Illinois Attorney Registration and Disciplinary Commission. The suspension begins June 8. M.R. 30743.

— Eric James Dale of Clinton, Iowa, who also is licensed in Iowa, 60 days and a public reprimand, on a reciprocal basis. Dale neglected client matters, put a client’s signature on a document without her permission and entered a plea of not guilty for that client without consulting her. The suspension begins on June 8. M.R. 30702.

— John Thomas Sheets of Havana, Ill., 30 days. Sheets engaged in the unauthorized practice of law for six weeks after being struck from the roll of attorneys in 2019 for failing to complete registration requirements and for 23 weeks after being struck from the roll of attorneys in 2020 for failing to complete Minimum Continuing Legal Education requirements. The suspension begins June 8. M.R. 30709.

As you can see, lawyers do get disciplined.  I find it a bit shocking that someone who has taken client funds might be able to get their license back some day.  It is good to know that lawyers who blow off their cases can be suspended. That is probably the only way to protect the public from hiring these people.  You also see a lot of lawyers being disciplined for lying. It is a big no-no and has shaped our attitude of being very direct and honest whenever we are asked questions.

Here’s a scenario that nobody wants to be in, but sadly happens all of the time:

You find yourself in this situation where a loved one dies. A couple of weeks later you file a life insurance claim. Shortly after that you get a wordy letter notifying you that the life insurance company will not be making a payment. There seems to be no rationale basis for them not paying.

Are you out of luck?  What can you do to show the insurance company that you mean business, you won’t go away quietly, and you aren’t giving up on the payout that is rightfully yours? Often the best next step is to hire an attorney and force the hand of the insurance company.  The reality is that life insurance companies make bogus denials all of the time. They will claim something wasn’t disclosed or that the policy has lapsed.  They do this because they want to frustrate you to the point that you just give up.

Fortunately most people know that hiring an attorney in this situation costs nothing up front and that these cases are often winnable.

We get contacted by people in this situation who want to know, “Who is the best life insurance attorney in the state of Illinois?” First of all, there is no indisputable “number one” life insurance lawyer or law firm. There are, however, a handful of lawyers who have decades of experience in this niche area of law and get great results for their clients. Beyond that, we need to consider your unique circumstances. What is the size of the insurance policy? Some attorneys only take on a case if the policy is in the six figures or higher. For other attorneys, the size of the policy doesn’t matter. We need to consider who the best life insurance lawyer is for you.

Another common question asked by people who reach out to us is, “Can you recommend a lawyer who has offices near me?” The location of an attorney’s office should not be an important factor in deciding who to hire for your case. In fact, it shouldn’t matter at all. As we mentioned earlier, life insurance law is a niche area. There are a very small number of firms that specialize in this area of law and can show a track record of success. These law firms tend to have offices located near the courts because the lawyers spend so much time there. In addition, communication between you and a lawyer can be done over the phone and via the internet. Often everything related to hiring an attorney and proceeding through a case can be done virtually. If you live downstate, it may likely be in your best interest to hire a Chicagoland attorney.

The most important thing to remember is that your main goal is to have the policy paid out.  To make that happen requires a law firm that knows what they are doing and can prove it based on their past results. The attorneys we recommend often can get these cases settled in less than three months. When the facts are on your side and the attorney knows the law, there becomes no defense for the insurance company.

If you have a life insurance case and are in need of an attorney, call us at 312-346-5320 to speak with a lawyer for free.  We cover life insurance disputes in all of Illinois.

We are experienced Chicago attorneys who help people find the best lawyer for their case, for free. We cover all of Illinois. If you would like our help, fill out our contact form or call us at 312-346-5320.

It’s no surprise that, when people call us looking for a referral to an attorney, they often ask for the best lawyer nearby. We especially hear this from people who are calling to sue after a car accident. “Who is the best car accident attorney near me?”

The driver, and possibly the passengers, have likely suffered some injuries. Often their vehicle has been towed away for repairs, or it is a total loss. So not only do they want a highly competent attorney who has an excellent track record on car accident cases, but they also want a lawyer close to their home, because they think that they will need to go to the lawyer’s office several times over the course of the case. And they now may not have access to their car, their main method of transportation.

But in reality, there is no one “best attorney” for every car accident case. In addition, whether or not the law firm’s office is within a 5-mile radius of you should not be the most important factor for who you hire. Here’s why.

The “Best” Car Accident Attorney

The best car accident attorney for one person may not be the best for another. A variety of factors influence who you should hire. The most important factor is who hit you. Was it a semi-truck? A pizza delivery vehicle? An individual driving a 2001 Scion? A case against a trucking company or a commercial vehicle is different from a case against an individual driver. How much insurance coverage the other party has is a related factor.  Some of the “best” law firms won’t touch a case where there is only $50,000 in insurance. And if it’s a major injury and the other driver was operating a commercial vehicle, most law firms out there don’t have the track record to get you the most compensation possible.

“Near Me”

Some people mistakenly think that they will have to shlep to and from an attorney’s office repeatedly over the course of a case. Even before COVID, law firms were signing up clients and communicating with them virtually. Technology allows for e-signatures and facetime or zoom calls. Very rarely is in-person communication necessary. In addition, the vast majority of lawyers who specialize in car accident cases have offices near the courthouses because they need to appear in court so frequently. So being a mile or two from the attorney’s office should definitely not be a key factor in who to hire. None of the lawyers we recommend ask you to come see them if it’s a problem. They will come to see you.

To put it another way, would you rather have a close by lawyer and have your case settle for $1 million or have a lawyer from a prestigious firm who’s a bit farther away and have the case settle for $3 million. The reality of Illinois car accident law is that some cases are worth more money in the hands of better firms.

What we do is evaluate your case and make sure we recommend the best one possible for you.  Sometimes that will be someone who is in your town. Other times it might make sense to get someone far away because of the type of case it is. Whatever your situation, we’ll treat you like a family member or fried and give you honest, straight forward advice.  If you want our help, please fill out our contact form or give us a call at 312-346-5320 to speak with an attorney for free.