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Dismissed Attorney
gets Unemployment

Professional not under
higher standard

    When an attorney doing real estate work was let go for a failure to meet the professional standards expected by the firm, she claimed unemployment benefits at the Illinois Department of Employment Security.  The IDES Hearings Referee bought the argument of law firm Messer & Stilip that the result of her unsatisfactory work was to cause harm to the firm's delivery of quality legal services to its clients.  Hence, the Hearings Referee found, she had engaged in "misconduct in connection with the work" and was ineligible for benefits.  The case worked its way upward, to the Board of Review, administrative review in the Cook County Circuit Court, and then to the appellate court.

    The First District Appellate Court rejected the argument that attorneys should be held to a higher standard when confronted with the claim of misconduct.  The court found no reason to distinguish between lawyers and any other trade, and said that unsatisfactory performance, irrespective of the claimed impact on services to clients, was under the same test as performance problems arising in any other vocation.  Messer & Stilip v IDES, ___IllApp3rd___, 1-08-1761 (1st Dist.  6/12/09).