Commission & Board Policies
The ARDC operates under the administrative supervision of its seven-member Commission, the members of which are appointed by the Illinois Supreme Court. The ARDC’s Hearing Board presides over formal disciplinary proceedings, and the ARDC’s Review Board acts as an appellate tribunal in disciplinary cases. From time to time, as part of its administrative oversight, the Commission adopts policies relating to the work of the ARDC. The Hearing and Review Boards may also adopt policies relating to the handling of proceedings before those tribunals. The Commission and board policies now in effect are set forth below.
If a motion to seal documents is filed, the Clerk of the Commission will treat the subject documents as public during the time period between the filing of the motion to seal and the ruling on the motion, absent a contrary written order from the Chair of the Hearing Panel. (September 6, 1996)
- ARDC Policy Regarding Appointment of Special Counsel
The ARDC Commission shall appoint members of the bar, pursuant to Supreme Court Rule 751(e)(5), to serve as Special Counsel. Compensation will be provided to Special Counsel at a rate determined by the Commission. Special Counsel shall conduct investigations as assigned. The authority and responsibilities of Special Counsel shall be the same as Administrator's counsel under Supreme Court and Commission rules, except that Special Counsel shall not take direction from the Administrator or his or her legal staff. Special Counsel shall exercise independent authority to investigate and to refer an investigation to the Inquiry Board, will prosecute cases before the Hearing Board and will act as appellate prosecutor in cases before the Review Board and the Supreme Court. Special Counsel shall report to the Commission regarding the status and disposition of investigations assigned. Special Counsel may be removed by the Commission at any time, without cause. All file materials prepared and maintained by Special Counsel in ARDC matters will be turned over to the ARDC upon conclusion of related investigations or proceedings and thereafter maintained as agency records in accordance with Supreme Court rules.
Special Counsel shall act in matters involving allegations against attorneys associated with the ARDC, including counsel for the Administrator, Adjudication Counsel, Commissioners and members of ARDC boards and other appointed Special Counsel. Special Counsel shall conduct investigations under the related rules of the Supreme Court and the ARDC, as modified by this policy. Pursuant to Supreme Court Rule 752 and Commission Rules 51 and 52, determining whether to investigate a charge that makes allegations related to an attorney's conduct in a disciplinary investigation or proceeding, Special Counsel shall determine whether the allegations, if true, would constitute misconduct and whether the allegations otherwise meet the requirements of a charge as set forth in Commission Rule 52. In making that determination, Special Counsel shall consider the attorney's role and fiduciary obligations in the matter and shall not be required to investigate allegations to the extent that they involve the attorney's exercise of discretion or judgment, the attorney's decision in the matter, or the complainant's general dissatisfaction with the disciplinary process or outcome. If a report or complaint relates to conduct in a pending civil, criminal or disciplinary case, Special Counsel may defer the decision on whether to investigate the charge until conclusion of the pending case.
- Recusal By Administrator's Counsel During Investigations and Related Proceedings
Administrator's counsel must be sensitive to familial or close personal or professional relationships between Administrator's counsel and a respondent or complainant in a pending matter. In determining whether a relationship is of sufficient closeness to implicate this policy, staff lawyers must, of course, comply with applicable conflict provisions of the Illinois Rules of Professional Conduct (e.g., Rule 1.7(a)(2) and Rule 1.11(d)), and should also be guided by the Commission policy on recusal and disqualification of board members and the disqualification factors listed in the Illinois Code of Judicial Conduct of 2023, which are set forth below, to the extent that the judicial rules are more stringent or more detailed than the conflict provisions of the Illinois Rules of Professional Conduct.
An ARDC staff lawyer who learns of such a relationship shall bring those circumstances to the attention of the Administrator or Deputy Administrator, who will review the disclosure and all relevant circumstances. If the Administrator or Deputy Administrator agrees that the policy is implicated by the disclosure, the investigation shall be assigned to Special Counsel. In no event shall the staff lawyer with the relationship have any involvement in or access to the investigation or any related proceeding.
(amended February 17, 2023, effective July 1, 2023)
Rule 2.11 of the Illinois Code of Judicial Conduct of 2023
(* refers to a word defined in the Terminology section of the Code)
(A) A judge shall be disqualified in any proceeding in which the judge’s impartiality* might reasonably be questioned, including, but not limited to, the following circumstances:
(1) The judge has a personal bias or prejudice concerning a party or a party’s lawyer or personal knowledge* of facts that are in dispute in the proceeding.
(2) The judge knows* that the judge, the judge’s spouse or domestic partner,* a person within the third degree of relationship* to either of them, or the spouse or domestic partner of such a person is: (a) a party to the proceeding or an officer, director, general partner, managing member, or trustee of a party; (b) acting as a lawyer in the proceeding; (c) a person who has more than a de minimis* interest that could be substantially affected by the proceeding; or (d) likely to be a material witness in the proceeding.
(3) The judge knowingly, individually, or as a fiduciary* or the judge’s spouse, domestic partner, parent, or child, wherever residing, or any other member of the judge’s family residing in the judge’s household* has an economic interest* in the subject matter in controversy or is a party to the proceeding.
(4) The judge, while a judge or a judicial candidate,* has made a public statement, other than in a court proceeding, judicial decision, or opinion that commits or appears to commit the judge to reach a particular result or rule in a particular way in the proceeding or controversy.
(5) The judge: (a) served as a lawyer in the matter; (b) represented any party to the matter while engaged in the private practice of law within a period of seven years following the last date on which the judge represented the party; (c) within the preceding three years was associated in the private practice of law with any law firm or lawyer currently representing any party in the matter (provided that referral of cases when no monetary interest was retained shall not be deemed an association within the meaning of this paragraph); (d) served in governmental employment and in such capacity participated personally and substantially as a lawyer or public official concerning the matter or has publicly expressed in such capacity an opinion concerning the merits of the particular matter; (e) was a material witness concerning the matter; or (f) previously presided as a judge over the matter in another court.
(B) A judge shall keep informed about the judge’s personal and fiduciary economic interests and make a reasonable effort to keep informed about the personal economic interests of the judge’s spouse or domestic partner and minor children residing in the judge’s household.
(C) A judge subject to disqualification under this Rule, other than for bias or prejudice under paragraph (A)(1), may disclose on the record the basis of the judge’s disqualification and may ask the parties and their lawyers to consider, outside the presence of the judge and court personnel, whether to waive disqualification. If, following the disclosure, the parties and lawyers agree, without participation by the judge or court personnel, that the judge should not be disqualified, the judge may participate in the proceeding. The agreement shall be incorporated into the record of the proceeding.
 Under this Rule, a judge is disqualified whenever the judge’s impartiality might reasonably be questioned, regardless of whether any of the specific provisions of paragraphs (A)(1) through (6) apply. For example, the participation in a matter involving a person with whom the judge has an intimate relationship or a member of the judge’s staff may require disqualification.
 A judge’s obligation not to hear or decide matters in which disqualification is required applies regardless of whether a motion to disqualify is filed.
 The rule of necessity may override the rule of disqualification. For example, a judge might be required to participate in judicial review of a judicial salary statute or might be the only judge available in a matter requiring immediate judicial action, such as a hearing on probable cause or a temporary restraining order. In matters that require immediate action, the judge must disclose on the record the basis for possible disqualification and make reasonable efforts to transfer the matter to another judge as soon as practicable.
 The fact that a lawyer in a proceeding is affiliated with a law firm with which a relative of the judge is affiliated does not itself disqualify the judge. If, however, the judge’s impartiality might reasonably be questioned under paragraph (A) or the relative is known by the judge to have an interest in the law firm that could be substantially affected by the proceeding under paragraph (A)(2)(c), the judge’s disqualification is required.
 A judge should disclose on the record information that the judge believes the parties or their lawyers might reasonably consider relevant to a possible motion for disqualification, even if the judge believes there is no basis for disqualification.
 “Economic interest,” as set forth in the Terminology section, means ownership of more than a de minimis legal or equitable interest. Except for situations in which a judge participates in the management of such a legal or equitable interest or the interest could be substantially affected by the outcome of a proceeding before a judge, it does not include: (1) an interest in the individual holdings within a mutual or common investment fund; (2) an interest in securities held by an educational, religious, charitable, fraternal, or civic organization in which the judge or the judge’s spouse, domestic partner, parent, or child serves as a director, officer, advisor, or other participant; (3) a deposit in a financial institution or deposits or proprietary interests the judge may maintain as a member of a mutual savings association or credit union, or similar proprietary interests; or (4) an interest in the issuer of government securities held by the judge.
 A judge’s use of social media or social networking platforms may create the appearance of a relationship between the judge and litigants or lawyers who may appear before the judge. Whether a relationship would cause the judge’s impartiality to “reasonably be questioned” depends on the facts. While the labels used by the social media or social networking platform (e.g., “friend”) are not dispositive of the nature of the relationship, judges should consider the manner in which the rules on disqualification have been applied in traditional contexts and the additional ways in which social media or social networking platforms may amplify any connection to the judge.
Cases remanded to the Hearing Board. Whether remanded by Supreme Court order or by recommendation of the Review Board, a case remanded to the Hearing Board should be assigned to the panel that previously heard the case, unless the remand order has a contrary direction.
Cases remanded to the Review Board. When the Supreme Court remands a case to the Review Board, the case should be assigned to the same panel that previously heard the matter, unless the remand order has a contrary direction.
Cases remanded to the Hearing Board and later appealed to the Review Board. When a case that was remanded to the Hearing Board by either order of the Court or by recommendation of the Review Board is subsequently appealed to the Review Board after the remanded proceedings, the case should be assigned randomly to a Review Panel.
Approved by the Commission on July 13, 2003, effective immediately
Released as written policy on February 25, 2004
No Board member shall voluntarily testify as a character witness in any matter before the Hearing Board. If a Board member is subpoenaed to testify before the Hearing Board, the member shall not lend the authority of his/her position to advance the private interest of others and shall not convey or permit others to convey the impression that they are in a special position to influence the Hearing Board. Further, if a Board member testifies as a character witness, the member shall not discuss any aspect of the case with any other Board member, personnel of the Clerk of the Commission, or Adjudication Counsel. A Board member shall not testify as an expert witness in any matter before the Hearing Board. For purposes of this policy, the term "Board member" shall include all members of the Commission, Review Board, Hearing Board, Inquiry Board, Oversight Committee, and Client Protection Review Panel. (June 17, 2005)
(a) Purpose and Scope
The purpose of this policy is to provide guidance for allowing portable electronic devices
in the ARDC offices and hearing rooms. This policy recognizes that such devices have become
essential and valuable personal and business tools. It also recognizes the importance for all ARDC
visitors to have notice and understand any restrictions on carrying and using portable electronic
devices in the ARDC offices and hearing rooms. It also recognizes that inappropriate use of
portable electronic devices can be a danger, cause distractions and impact the orderly
administration of justice. This policy seeks to respect the interests and needs of the people who
enter the ARDC’s offices and hearing rooms, while recognizing and serving the need to maintain
security, order and safety.
(1) “Portable Electronic Devices” are mobile devices capable of electronically
storing, accessing, or transmitting information and include personal computers, tablet
computers, mobile telephones (including cell phones and any form of telephone with cameras
and audio and video recording and transmission capabilities), electronic calendars, e-book
readers, smartwatches, or similar devices.
(2) “ARDC visitor” means any individual present at the ARDC offices in Illinois,
with the exception of ARDC employees, Commissioners, and members of the ARDC Boards.
(c) Portable Electronic Device Policy
(1) Use in Common Areas: All ARDC visitors may use portable electronic devices
in the common areas of the office, such as lobbies and hallways. Further restrictions, including
limiting mobile telephone conversations to designated areas, may be imposed by the
Administrator as needed to maintain safety, security, proper behavior, order, and the
administration of justice.
(2) Use in Hearing Rooms: Case participants including lawyers, parties (including
self-represented litigants), and witnesses may use a portable electronic device inside a hearing
room to check calendars when requested by the Chair of the Hearing or Review Panel and to
present case-related information. All other uses of portable electronic devices inside hearing
rooms may be prohibited by the Chair of the Hearing or Review Panel presiding in the hearing
room. All portable electronic devices must remain in “silent” mode at all times in the hearing
(3) Prohibited Uses in Common Areas and Hearing Rooms: Taking photographs,
making audio and video recordings, and livestreaming in the common areas of the ARDC are
prohibited without prior approval of the Administrator. Taking photographs, making audio
and video recordings, and livestreaming inside hearing rooms are prohibited without prior
approval of the Chair of the Hearing Board or Chair of the Review Board, or as governed by
Illinois Supreme Court Rule 44. No ARDC visitor may use a portable electronic device to
harass, intimidate, or communicate about given testimony with any witness at any time.
(4) Other Electronic Devices: Cameras, video cameras, video recording equipment
and recording devices not classified as portable electronic devices are not allowed in the
common areas without prior approval of the Administrator. Cameras, video cameras, video
recording equipment and recording devices not classified as portable electronic devices are not
allowed in the hearing rooms without prior approval of the Chair of the Hearing Board or Chair
of the Review Board, or as outlined in the Policy for Extended Media Coverage in the Circuit
Courts of Illinois and Illinois Supreme Court Rule 44.
(5) Removal from Premises: ARDC visitors using a portable electronic device, or
possessing other electronic devices, in violation of this or any other administrative order or
policy may be removed from the ARDC offices or hearing room.
(6) Restrictions on Portable Electronic Devices: If the Chair of the Hearing or
Review Panel determines that portable electronic devices interfere with the administration of
justice or cause a threat to safety or security, the Chair may prohibit portable electronic devices
from being carried into the hearing room. In such a case, the portable electronic devices shall
be stored in a secured form of on-site storage, which can be as simple as numbered plastic
storage containers or envelopes.
(d) Posting Notice of Portable Electronic Device Policies
Signs referring to this policy shall be posted in the common areas and outside the hearing
rooms. This information shall also be publicized on the ARDC’s website. (May 20, 2022)
Hearing Board Panel Chair Assignments
In accordance with Commission Rule 212, upon the docketing of a new complaint filed pursuant Supreme Court Rule 753, and petitions filed pursuant to Supreme Court Rules 758, 759 (if referred to the Hearing Board by the Supreme Court), and 767, the Clerk of the Commission shall assign the matter to a Chair of the Hearing Board. The Clerk will enter the assigned proceeding number into the Hearing Board Panel Selection Program, and based on the Respondent’s business address listed on the Master Roll, the program will assign the case to a Chair serving in the corresponding geographic location, either Chicago or Springfield. The random selection of a Chair is based on various factors, including the number of active proceedings each Chair has pending on their calendar. After the program selects the Chair, the Clerk will enter an order assigning the matter to the Chair, and serve the order on the parties.
Hearing Board Panel Attorney and Public Member Assignments
In accordance with Commission Rule 212, after the entry of the Order by the Chair of the Hearing Panel scheduling a hearing date, the Clerk of the Commission will assign an attorney and non-attorney member for the hearing. The Clerk will use the Hearing Board Panel Selection Program, which will randomly generate the name of an attorney and non-attorney member.
After the program provides the name of a prospective panel member, the Clerk’s office will contact the panel member, and ask the member if they are available to serve on the date of the scheduled hearing. If the member is unavailable, the Clerk will record the reason they are unavailable, and remove the member’s name from the pool of prospective members. The Clerk will repeat the random selection process for the attorney and non-attorney members until a hearing panel has been filled. If the member is available and agrees to serve on the hearing panel, the Clerk will enter an order assigning that member to the hearing panel, and serve the parties with the order.
If, after the assignment has been made, the panel member is unable to attend the scheduled hearing, the member shall notify the Clerk, in writing, requesting that they be removed from the panel. Upon receipt of the notice, the Clerk will follow the same procedures to select another member for the hearing. If, an assigned panel member is unable to attend a hearing, and there is insufficient time to reassign the matter using the random selection procedure, the Clerk may, with the approval of the Chair of the Hearing Board, bypass the random selection procedure, and reassign the matter by directly contacting prospective panel members. The Clerk will make a record entry memorializing the authorization by the Chair of the Hearing Board, enter an assignment order, and serve the order on the parties.
In the event the Chair of a Hearing Panel schedules two hearings on the same date, in the interest of judicial economy, the Clerk, with the approval of the Chair of the Hearing Board, will bypass the random panel selection program and contact the assigned members of the first hearing and ask if they can serve on the panel for the second hearing. If the member agrees, the Clerk will manually select the names of the hearing panel members assigned to the first proceeding, and assign them to the second proceeding. The Clerk will make a record entry memorializing the authorization by the Chair of the Hearing Board, enter an assignment order, and serve the order on the parties.
Review Board Member Assignments
In accordance with Supreme Court Rule 753(d), a matter before the Review Board shall be decided by a panel of three members. After a matter is scheduled for oral argument, the Clerk of the Commission will utilize the random panel selection program to assign three members of the Review Board to the pending matter. Also pursuant to Supreme Court Rule 753(d), the most senior member of the panel shall preside over the matter.
Adopted September 15, 2017, effective November 22, 2017
No Board member shall provide, in any proceeding, expert or opinion testimony with respect to the appropriate standard of care or conduct expected of an attorney in representing a client. Character testimony is not prohibited by this policy.
For purposes of this policy, the term “testimony” shall include oral and written statements made at any stage of the proceedings, and the term “Board member” shall include all members of the Commission, Review Board, Hearing Board, Inquiry Board, Oversight Committee, Client Protection Review Panel, and Special Counsel. The term “proceeding” shall include any judicial or alternative dispute resolution proceeding regardless of the form of the venue.
The rule shall apply during the Board member's tenure on any of the bodies listed in the immediately preceding paragraph and for a period of six months following such Board member ceasing to serve on such body. This rule does not apply to any engagement entered into prior to the effective date of this amended policy.
(Adopted, June 17, 2005, amended December 9, 2022, effective July 1, 2023).
No Board member shall represent a respondent in any disciplinary proceeding or action, pending or filed during his/her term as a Board member. A disciplinary proceeding includes, but is not limited to, all investigations, all proceedings before the Inquiry, Hearing and Review Boards, and all related proceedings before the Illinois Supreme Court. For purposes of this policy, the term "Board member" shall include all members of the Commission, Hearing Board, Review Board, Inquiry Board, Oversight Committee, and Client Protection Review Panel. (June 17, 2005)
A Board member shall withdraw from participation in a matter or proceeding in which the member’s impartiality might reasonably be questioned or when there is a substantial showing that the member cannot participate in a fair and reasonable manner, including but not limited to instances where:
- the member has a personal bias or prejudice concerning a party or a party’s lawyer, or personal knowledge of disputed evidentiary facts concerning the proceedings;
- an attorney-client or other fiduciary relationship exists between a party or party’s lawyer and an attorney member or an individual with whom the attorney member is currently associated in the practice of law. For purposes of this policy a member shall not be disqualified if he is represented by Counsel for the Administrator in any action brought as a result of the member’s actions in a Commission matter;
- a party or a party’s lawyer has a substantial business relationship with a public member or a substantial business relationship with an individual with whom the public member is currently professionally associated;
- a party or party’s lawyer appearing before the member is a co-counsel or adversary counsel of the member in another pending matter in any forum or a party or party’s lawyer and the member have any pending matters in which either has acted as referring counsel. For purposes of this policy a referring counsel is one who receives some economic benefit as defined in Rule 1.5 of the Rules of Professional Conduct;
- the member served as a lawyer in connection with any events relating to the matter or proceeding, or a lawyer with whom the member practices law served as a lawyer in connection with any events relating to the matter or proceeding. For purposes of this subparagraph a lawyer in a governmental agency does not necessarily have an association with other lawyers employed by that agency;
- the member, individually or as a fiduciary, or the spouse of the member, or any child living in the member’s household, has more than a de minimis financial interest in any events relating to the matter or proceeding.
For purposes of this policy, the term "Board member" shall include all members of the Review Board, Hearing Board, Inquiry Board, and Client Protection Review Panel. (June 17, 2005)
All hearings will be video and audio recorded. The recordings are made for the purposes of security, training and monitoring of the hearings to ensure that all proceedings are conducted safely and in accordance with the Commission’s standards and policies. These recordings will not take the place of the current court reporter procedures, and are intended for internal use only, are not discoverable, and will not be made available to the parties or the public. The equipment will be turned on only when the Hearing Board Panel is in the room. It is set up to capture the podium, bench and witness stand, and is not aimed at counsel tables. The audio recording is done through the current microphone system, so discussions outside the range of the microphones will not be detectable.
Policy effective as of January 1, 2020
If an appellant’s brief has not been timely filed, five days thereafter the Clerk shall forward a notice to counsel of record, advising that (1) Commission Rule 302(j) requires that the Review Board strike the Appellant’s exceptions “within the time set by” Rule 302 “or any additional time which the Review Board allows,” (2) Appellant’s Brief has not been filed as provided by that rule, (3) pursuant to the Review Board’s authority under that rule, Appellant is granted an additional 10 days or until ________ (specifying the exact date) to file his or her brief, and (4) and that if it is not filed by that date, Appellant’s exceptions will be stricken pursuant to the rule.
The Clerk shall then, in the name of the Review Board, automatically strike the Appellant’s exceptions if the brief or a motion for a further extension of time is not filed within the seven days, allowing for the necessary extra days to receive the same by mail. If a motion for additional time is filed, the same shall be considered and disposed of on its merits, but such tardy motions shall not be favored. If such a motion is denied, Appellant’s exceptions shall be stricken at that time.
In the event a tardy motion is allowed, and Appellant’s Brief is thereafter not timely filed, no second notice to counsel of record as previously described shall be forwarded. Instead, the Clerk, in the name of the Review Board, shall automatically strike Appellant’s exceptions as soon as it has been determined that the brief has not been timely filed.
No motion to strike exceptions, based upon an appellant’s failure to timely file a brief, shall be filed.
Policy effective as of April 9, 2010