It's not the first time -- and it's not likely to be the last time. Another national evaluation of the legal systems -- the systems that determine justice -- in the 50 states has been released and the great state of Illinois ... the "Land of Lincoln," according to our license plates ... ranks near the bottom.
According to a detailed poll conducted by Harris International, Illinois ranks 46th of the 50 states. The only states that rank below us are Alabama, Arkansas, Mississippi and West Virginia. Nothing against any of these states but they're not quite the states Illinois likes to be compared with.
None borders Illinois. None has a city of the magnitude of Chicago. None has a professional baseball ... or football ... or basketball team. While all have great state universities (we assume), none has a University of Chicago or Northwestern to go with the University of Illinois and DePaul and Loyola and Illinois State and Northern Illinois and Southern Illinois and John Marshall and Kent ... and on and on ...
But that's who Illinois is ranked with the by the corporate attorneys who participate in the Harris survey.
These are the attorneys who tell their bosses -- the general counsels and the CEOs -- that these are the states that have good (and fair) judicial systems and these are the states that have lousy (and unfair) judicial systems.
"So Mr. CEO or Mr. General Counsel, where do you think we ought to expand or relocate? Where do you think we'll be able to grow our business and hire hundreds or thousands or tens of thousands of workers without fighting with a legal environment that drains our resources and views us not as a sources of economic development but as a target -- a big target -- for litigation. Illinois? Are you kidding?"The trial lawyers and their buddies try to minimize this survey every year but they don't know how.
Do they flip the numbers and say, "No, Illinois is not the 46th; Illinois is really the 5th in our ranking because WE evaluate states based on where WE think the environment is best?"
They like to call the survey "bogus" because of who is being surveyed -- the legal people of major corporations in Illinois and other states. Who is best suited to evaluate the legal environment as it relates to business -- to the job-creators?
I'd suggest to the trial lawyers -- my friends at the Illinois Trial Lawyers Association -- that you conduct a survey that shows which states YOUR members think have the best legal environment.
In fact, a survey in Illinois showing which of the 102 counties ITLA thinks are the best from YOUR perspective would be useful to all of us.
Show us where the business community (and medical community and local governments) are wrong. It would be interesting to hear from you.
I'm not sure when he said it or what the circumstances were but this comment by Abraham Lincoln is one of many that marks his greatness:
"Discourage litigation. Persuade your neighbors to compromise whenever you can. As a peacemaker the lawyer has superior opportunity of being a good man. There will still be business enough."Of course, discouraging litigation is not something any Illinois lawyer favors so while it's not surprising, it is somewhat hypocritical that the Illinois State Bar Association is using Lincoln as centerpiece of their new "educational" campaign.
President Lincoln, of course, is dead. So he can't say, "They're using ME to promote their sue-sue-sue, fabricate-fabricate-fabricate conduct?"
(Editorial note: we don't know that Lincoln would have said "fabricate-fabricate-fabricate." It is likely that the concept of fabricating 'wrongs' had not arisen.)
A story printed below, from the Sunday Springfield State Journal-Register, reports on the ISBA advertising campaign to promote the image of lawyers in Illinois. This advertising campaign has been reported on before but it is being intensified and the story reports ISBA is spending several hundred thousand dollars this time. According to the Journal-Register,
"a 12-page insert to be included in more than 30 daily and weekly newspapers across Illinois is the centerpiece of the campaign. The insert appeared in The State Journal-Register on Wednesday."It seems as if ISBA could save a lot of money -- and improve their image -- if they'd sit down with the leadership of the Illinois Trial Lawyers Association and tell them they ought to look in the mirror.
Cross-posted by Ed Murnane at Illinois Justice Blog.
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