Sari W. Montgomery has devoted her career to the law of lawyering, legal ethics and professional responsibility for more than twenty-five years.
After more than a decade as Litigation and Senior Litigation Counsel at the Illinois Attorney Registration and Disciplinary Commission of the Supreme Court of Illinois (ARDC), where she conducted hundreds of investigations and prosecuted dozens of cases before the ARDC Hearing Board, Sari decided to apply her extensive knowledge of the ARDC and legal ethics to helping lawyers who may be facing disciplinary proceedings or who need guidance on ethics matters. Since 2010, she has successfully represented lawyers at every stage of the disciplinary process from investigation and hearing, to appeals before the ARDC Review Board and the Illinois Supreme Court. Sari also represents judges in JIB proceedings, and bar applicants in navigating Character and Fitness proceedings .
In addition to defending lawyers, judges, and bar applicants in disciplinary and bar admissions proceedings, Sari provides preventative consulting services and legal advice to lawyers regarding all manner of ethical and practice management issues. She has issued opinion letters on behalf of lawyers, law firms, government agencies, and law-related businesses to assist in clarifying their ethical obligations and to ensure their business models and procedures are consistent with the Rules of Professional Conduct. Sari also serves as an expert witness in legal malpractice and fee matters.
Sari is a leader in local, state and national bar associations and frequently presents at national, state, and local CLE programs. She has taught as an Adjunct Professor at Loyola University Chicago School of Law, and is a faculty member of the Practising Law Institute (PLI) and the National Academy of Continuing Legal Education (NACLE).
Loyola University Chicago School of Law — JD ’94
Loyola University Law Program in International Law — ’92, Rome, Italy
University of Chicago — BA ’91 in Public Policy Studies
Illinois Supreme Court — Admitted 1994
United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois — Admitted 1994
Sari Montgomery, Scott Kozlov, Nancy Vincent, “A Cautionary Tale for In-House Counsel,” Illinois Bar Journal, Volume 107, Number 7 (ISBA, 2019)
Contributing Author, Annotated Standards for Imposing Lawyer Sanctions (American Bar Association Center for Professional Responsibility, 2019)
Mary Robinson, Sari W. Montgomery, James A. Doppke, Jr., Ch. 9, Ethical Considerations in Jury Trials, Inside & Outside the Jury Box (IICLE®, 2019)
Mary Robinson, Sari W. Montgomery, James A. Doppke, Jr., Ch. 13, Disciplinary
Liability, ATTORNEY’S LEGAL LIABILITY (IICLE®, 2018).
Panelist, 2020 Tech Summit: Pajamas & Professionalism: Standards and Ethics for New Surroundings, New Tech and New Social Media Users, New York State Bar Association Tech Summit, November 2020.
Panelist, Be Prepared: Practical Advice and Ethical Considerations for Succession Planning, Mergers and Acquisitions, Closures and Retirement, National Collectors Bar Association, September 2020.
Co-Presenter, Ethical Issues Update; Defending/Avoiding Ethics Investigation; Ethics and Technology Use in Legal Practice, Practising Law Institute Ethics Marathon, July 2020.
Moderator, Social Media Issues: Addressing Negative Online Reviews, Geo-Fencing and More, Including What is Permitted vs. Practical, and the Malpractice Carrier’s Perspective, APRL Mid-Year Meeting, Austin, TX, February 2020.
Co-Presenter, When Practice Collides with the Rules: Ethical Issues in the Collections Practice, Illinois Collections Bar Association, February 2020.
Panelist, Unauthorized Practice—Crossing Borders, Chicago Bar Association, November 2019.
Panelist, Liar Liar: Managing Truth and Lies in Law Firms, Holland & Knight Firm General Counsel Summit, September 2019.
Moderator, Why Do People Lie and Why Should We Care? The Movie, The Director, and Legal Ethics, APRL Annual Meeting, San Francisco, CA, August 2019.
Recipient of Award for Pro Bono Service, Lawyers Trust Fund of Illinois, 2019
Provide informal ethics opinions as membership benefit to Illinois Creditors’ Bar Association
Panelist, Professional Responsibility Implications of Evolving Technology and Other Emerging Trends, ABA Lawyers’ Professional Liability Young Professionals Event, 2019
Speaker, Legal Ethics 101: Avoiding Common Mistakes and Conducting Your Practice with Honesty and Integrity, National Academy of Continuing Legal Education, 2019
Speaker, Ethics Issues for New Lawyers—What You Need to Know, National Academy of Continuing Legal Education, 2019
Panelist, Basic Skills for New Lawyers Series, Ethical Dilemmas for New Attorneys, Illinois State Bar Association, 2018
Panelist, NOBC Ethics Roundtable (presented on Cryptocurrency, Email Tracking Software, and Of Counsel Relationships), National Organization of Bar Counsel Annual Meeting, Chicago, Illinois, 2018
Speaker, Multijurisdictional Practice: How to Cross Borders Without Crossing
Ethical Lines, Practising Law Institute Ethics Marathon, 2018.
Panelist, Secrets of the Citation Act and Tips for Enforcing Judgments:
Professional Rules v. Collection Practice: Know and Avoid the Conflicts, Illinois
State Bar Association, 2018.
Panelist, Basic Enforcement of Judgments: Ethical Issues in Collection Practice,
Illinois Institute of Continuing Legal Education, 2018.
Panelist, The Adjudicator’s Perspective – A Peek Behind the Curtain,
National Organization of Bar Counsel Mid-Year Meeting, Vancouver,
British Columbia, 2018.
Speaker, The Ethical Defender: Conflict of Interest and Other “Hot Button”
Ethical Issues in Public Defense, Illinois Public Defender Association Fall
Panelist, Ethics of Limited Scope Representation, Chicago Bar Foundation
Limited Scope Representation Seminar, 2017.
Panelist, Ethics and Technology, Illinois Legal Aid Advocates
Speaker, Limited Scope Representation: When Less is More, Illinois State
Bar Association, 2016.
Panelist, Ethical Pitfalls for Attorneys Managing Multi-State Practices,
National Association of Retail Collection Attorneys Annual Meeting, 2016.
Speaker, Tips on What to Expect and How to Respond to an ARDC Inquiry,
North Suburban Bar Association, 2015
Speaker, Legal Ethics 2013: Hot Topics in Technology and Communication,
Lorman Education Services, 2013.
Speaker, Ethical Issues in Collection Practice, Illinois Creditors’ Bar
Panelist, Ethical Issues in Collection Practice: Where Professional Rules Conflict
with the Realities of the Collection Process, National Association of Retail
Collection Attorneys Annual Meeting, 2011.
Speaker, Illinois’ New Rules of Professional Conduct: A Comprehensive
Overview, Illinois State Bar Association Mid-year Meeting, 2009.
Speaker, Illinois’ New Rules of Professional Conduct: An Initial Overview,
Illinois State Bar Association, 2009.
Panelist, Sex, Death and Money: A Discussion of Self-dealing Conflicts of
Interest, National Organization of Bar Counsel Mid-year Meeting, San
Antonio, TX, 2004.
Illinois State Bar Association –1994-Present
Appointed to Committee on Professional Conduct, 2008-Present; Chair (2015-16) Participate in drafting new ethics opinions for benefit of 30,000 member association.
Appointed to President’s Special Committee on Alternative Business Structures (2019-2020)Appointed to President’s Special Committee on the ARDC Matching Services Study (2018-Present) Review ARDC Matching Services Study and formulate recommendations to ISBA Board of Governors to be presented to ARDC and Illinois Supreme Court.
Appointed to President’s Special Committee on Collaborative Law (2015-2018)–Draft proposed legislation and changes to Supreme Court Rules to facilitate the collaborative law process in a manner consistent with the Rules of Professional Conduct.
Association of Professional Responsibility Lawyers (APRL) — Member 2012-Present
Board of Directors (2020-Present)
Conference Planning Committee (2019-2020)
Appointed as APRL Liaison to ABA Committee on Professional Regulation (2018-2019)
American Bar Association Center for Professional Responsibility — Member 2012-Present
Appointed to Standing Committee on Professional Regulation (2019-2022)
American Bar Association Standing Committee on Professional Regulation — Member 2019-2022
Law360 Legal Ethics Editorial Advisory Board – Member, 2022-
-Chicago Bar Association — Member 1994-Present
Appointed to Committee on Lawyer Regulation
Member, Committee on Professional Responsibility
Member, Committee on Unauthorized Practice and Multidisciplinary Practice
Chicago Council of Lawyers—Member 2020-Present
Member, Access to Justice Committee (2020-Present)
- Successfully represented lawyers in more than a hundred investigations resulting in closure without disciplinary action
- Achieved dismissal of all charges in cases before the hearing board involving allegations of dishonesty and fraud
- Assisted numerous Bar applicants in navigating the Character and Fitness process towards successful admission
- Accomplished author and presenter on a wide range of legal ethics topics
- Recipient of Award for Pro Bono Service, Lawyers Trust Fund of Illinois, 2019
- Named to Law360 Legal Ethics Editorial Advisory Board, 2022