Does it matter where your attorneys practice? The answer is – yes, it does.
Illinois State Court – Circuit Courts.
An attorney admitted to the Illinois State Bar is admitted to practice law in any state court in Illinois. There are Illinois Rules of Civil Procedure and Supreme Court Rules that govern every state court. But each state court circuit (and sometimes each judge) also has its own rules.
It isn’t just about knowing the judges or the players in the court room, so much as it is about knowing the system and understanding how the different circuits operate.
There are 24 judicial circuits in Illinois, of which six are single county circuits (Cook, DuPage, Kane, Lake, McHenry and Will). Each judicial circuit, and sometimes, each judge, have their own distinct rules of court conduct – or Standing Orders – and your attorney should be familiar with the nuances of that judicial circuit.
If your case is pending in Cook County, you probably want a Chicago attorney or an attorney who is knowledgeable about the Circuit Court of Cook County. The Circuit Court of Cook County is the largest of the 24 judicial circuits in Illinois, and one of the largest unified court systems in the world. It has about 400 judges who serve the 5.2 million residents of Cook County within the City of Chicago and its 126 surrounding suburbs. More than 1 million cases are filed each year. The 400 judges sit throughout the court’s ten divisions and six geographic districts. There are attorneys in our Chicago office that primarily handle Cook County cases because of its nuances.
If your case is pending in McHenry County, Lake County, Kane County or DuPage County, you may be better served by an attorney who is familiar with those courts. It is not necessary that they have an office there – just that they routinely practice in those courts.
If your case is pending in Madison County or McLean County, you may be better served with an attorney who is familiar with those courtrooms. Madison and McLean counties are the homes of some of the largest asbestos dockets, but there are also other court cases that are filed in those counties.
The nuances of the courts matter. You will want an attorney who has familiarity with the local rules and has a comfort level practicing in those courtroom.
Illinois Federal Court – District Courts
Federal courts are a whole other animal. Just because your attorney is admitted to practice in the State of Illinois does not mean they can practice in the U.S. District Courts of Illinois.
There are three U.S. District Courts in Illinois – the U.S. District Court for the Northern District, the U.S. District Court for the Central District, and the U.S. District Court for the Southern District. Attorneys who practice in the federal courts must be admitted to practice law within the district in which the case is pending.
For example, the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois has two divisions – the Eastern Division in Chicago and the Western Division in Rockford. Your attorney must be admitted to practice law before the Northern District of Illinois before they can appear in your case. Both the Eastern Division and Western Division use the same admission rules to appear before those Divisions.
The U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois has an additional requirement before an attorney can try a case. The Northern District requires that its attorneys be admitted to the U.S District Court for the Northern District Trial Bar. In order to be admitted to the Trial Bar, the attorney must provide an application setting forth trial experience and coursework to verify that they have the knowledge and experience to try a case in federal court.
McKenna Storer has offices in Woodstock and Chicago and its attorneys practice throughout the state in all of the Illinois State and Federal courts, as well as several trial attorneys who are members of the Trial Bar for the Northern District of Illinois.
If you need an attorney or have questions regarding the various courts, please contact Kristin Tauras at McKenna Storer. Kristin practices primarily in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District as a member of the Trial Bar and also the state courts in Cook County, McHenry County, Lake County, Rockford County, Kane County and DuPage County. She has offices in both our Chicago and Woodstock locations. Her email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.