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A Moving Move

Sign reading Robinson Stewart Montgomery and Doppke

We did it. Together. We moved our office, in the dead of winter, in the surging pandemic, and landed safely at a great new space (33 North Dearborn, Suite 1420, Chicago 60602). Done, but quite the workout!

We couldn’t have done it without a lot of help (including and especially from our realtor Brian Zatz; our IT guru, Gregory Haley at Noventech; and our fabulous admin Brianna). We’re fortunate and grateful for all of it. Now, to ponder: what does it all mean?

Magic In Here

A bit of magic in blogging about this today, for me, is that I started working at the ARDC on February 1, 1999. So it was on a January 31 some 23 years ago that my legal ethics journey was about to begin. I had already met, interviewed with Mary, and that next day I would meet my future partners Sari and Stephanie. I hope I was humble enough to acknowledge how lucky I was, but I had no way of knowing how lucky I’d remain.

For us to have our own space – no longer subtenants, now in our own dedicated space – feels like a culmination of that journey. Not the culmination, but a culmination, a high point from which we’ll go on to do much more work. We’re looking forward to continuing to serve clients as the ethical and regulatory environments around us continue to change.

Change Is Now

What kind of change? Over the pandemic we’ve consulted several times with lawyers looking to adjust their business models, or to begin brand-new ones. As we do, we watch and analyze the ways that other jurisdictions abandon or modify Rule 5.4 and its strictures. Even if such changes are not on the horizon in Illinois, we at least can see where others land, and we can help Illinois lawyers understand and adapt.

We continue our defense work, too, representing lawyers in ARDC investigations and formal complaints; there appears to have been an uptick in the latter. The ARDC website discloses that the Administrator filed 47 complaints in calendar year 2021, compared to 37 in 2020. (All numbers are unofficial until the ARDC publishes its Annual Report in April.)

It’s early to try to divine the reason for the increase, though a good guess may be adaptation to the pandemic and figuring out ways to work around the delays and difficulties it brings. But if 47 is not a historic low number, it’s still quite far off the pace of what ARDC filed in years past. Again, that suggests a different regulatory environment than that which has gone before. We continue to litigate in the space and at the pace ARDC dictates. But we also have handled other civil and regulatory matters, and we’ve provided a number of expert opinions in others’ litigation.

Keep Hanging On

One field that hasn’t slowed is bar admissions. Many factors affect how many applicants there are in a given year. But it seems to us that there are as many if not more Character & Fitness matters to handle than there were pre-pandemic (to pick an arbitrary data point).

Much of our work with applicants involves counsel, advice, and collaboration. We’ve gone to bat in contested hearings too, though. We have helped applicants prove, clearly and convincingly, their fitness to practice. That effort can be difficult, but it’s most rewarding to see both young and non-traditional practitioners overcome adversity to get their hard-earned starts. Their persistence inspires us.

2022 brings us a new perch from which to do all this. Together.

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