This post in the Attuned Legal® client awareness series discusses how to check if a lawyer is licensed in Illinois. All content is informational—not legal advice.
Table of Contents
Checking Illinois Attorney Qualifications
Attuned Legal® clients, especially those more familiar with legal systems outside Illinois, often want to verify whether a demand letter or phone call came from a legitimate attorney before responding. Assuming the communication is from the person it claims to be and not a scam, several resources are available for checking Illinois attorney qualifications.
Still, remember that a licensed attorney may advocate for a client by presenting a legal argument or position. The message recipient needs independent guidance to determine the communication’s legal effect. Seeking advice right away is important because legal issues can be very time-sensitive.
|Free Legal Help
|CARPLS – ☎️ (312) 738-9200
CCLAHD – ☎️ (855) 956-5763
Eviction Help Illinois – ☎️ (855) 631-0811
ILAO Get Legal Help (website)
Lawyers for the Creative Arts (website)
|JEP – ☎️ (312) 546-3282
CBA Lawyer Referral Service – ☎️ (312) 554-2001
ISBA Illinois Lawyer Finder – ☎️ (800) 922-8757
How to Verify an Attorney is Licensed in Illinois
An Illinois law license grants an individual attorney permission to handle legal matters for clients at all levels of the state’s courts. Whether an individual attorney holds an active Illinois law license is public information. Anyone can verify whether a lawyer is licensed to serve clients in Illinois by checking with the Illinois Attorney Registration and Disciplinary Commission.
Individual attorneys and not employers hold Illinois law licenses. The lawyer must comply with all applicable rules, including education requirements. Although Illinois attorneys aren’t required to perform volunteer (pro bono) legal services, and employment duties prohibit some from doing so, lawyers report volunteer hours and monetary contributions to organizations providing such services each year as part of registration.
While people can represent themselves in many types of Illinois legal disputes, only licensed attorneys can practice law on behalf of clients. Nonlawyers providing legal services can be reported to the Illinois State Bar Association’s Task Force on Unauthorized Practice of Law.
How to Verify an Attorney is Licensed in Neighboring States
Checking whether a lawyer is licensed in Illinois may not be the end of the path. A client’s physical location doesn’t automatically govern where the lawyer handling a matter needs to be licensed. In places like Chicagoland, where people and goods flow across Wisconsin, Illinois, Indiana, and Lake Michigan, a resident of one state might have to find an attorney licensed in a different state to address an everyday legal concern.
Illinois-licensed attorneys aren’t allowed to practice law in other states without following the license procedures required by those jurisdictions. To research whether attorneys are licensed in neighboring states, try the State Bar of Wisconsin Lawyer Search, Indiana Roll of Attorneys, Iowa Lawyer Database, Official Missouri Directory of Lawyers, Kentucky Bar Association Lawyer Locator, and State Bar of Michigan Member Directory Search.
How to Verify an Attorney is Admitted to Practice in Illinois Federal Courts
State law licenses also allow lawyers to apply for permission to practice in specific federal courts. Illinois has three federal district courts, each with its own admissions procedures, which may distinguish between categories of attorneys that don’t exist in the Illinois state scheme.
For example, I’m admitted to practice in the United States District Courts for the Northern District of Illinois and the Central District of Illinois. In a prior role, I held government attorney admission to appear before the United States District Court for the Southern District of Illinois, which expired when I left that job. I’d need to apply for general admission before representing a private client in a Southern District case.
To verify whether an attorney is admitted to practice in a specific federal court, check with the jurisdiction you’re interested in. The Northern District of Illinois offers an online Active General and Trial Bar Members Search.