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Dodd & Maatuka

By 7007164025 21 Jun, 2017

Q: Where are you from? 

A: I was born and raised here in Champaign-Urbana. I have lived here all my life, and am a graduate of Urbana High School. GO TIGERS!!

Q: What was your undergraduate degree in? 

A: I studied Speech Pathology and Audiology at Illinois State University in Normal, Illinois.  

Q: Why did you choose that degree program?  

A: When I was 16 years old, I was given the wonderful opportunity of working at the U of I's Department of Speech and Hearing Science through the extra help program. While working there, I developed a high interest in the Speech and Language Pathology field. As a young child growing up, I have always had a natural fascination with words, vocabulary and enunciation. I would always correct my dad whenever he purposefully mispronounced any words.  

Q: What inspired you to pursue a career in law?  

A: I kind of stumbled into the legal world, although my mother always told me that I argue so much that I needed to become an attorney. I was given an opportunity approximately 16 years ago by attorney Robert Dodd. He employed me as a receptionist, and while in that position I learned some basic skills pertaining to legal work. At that time, my interest in law had peaked. After working for Mr. Dodd, I gained further experience working with other attorneys at 2 other local law firms as a legal assistant and that is what I have been doing ever since.  

Q: What was your most challenging moment in the legal field? 

A: Almost every day is a challenge. Because the law hits such a broad range of scenarios with each bearing unique differences, two cases can never be treated the same. Also, the law is ever changing and keeping up with those changes can definitely become challenging especially if the law happens to change in the middle of a case.  

Q: What has been your most rewarding moment?  

A: It is most rewarding when we achieve legal justice for our clients.

Q: What kind of volunteer activities do you take part in?  

A: I don't do much volunteering these days. In the past, I volunteered with a lot of youth programs and events at my church.

Q: What do you enjoy doing outside of the office?  

A: I enjoy singing and performing. I currently sing with two local blues and R&B bands in the C-U area. Other than that, I find entertainment in my teenage daughter.  

Q: Name a fun fact about you.  

A: I occasionally enjoy sitting in a quiet corner and writing poetry.

Q: What is your practice area/are your practice areas?  

A: I was fortunate to gain experience in multiple areas of law over the course of the past 12 years. Currently, I am the real estate paralegal for the firm and I also handle workers' compensation.

Q: What is your favorite part about working at Dodd & Maatuka? 

A: I am no stranger to Dodd & Maatuka. Attorney Robert Dodd gave me my first breakthrough opportunity at working in the legal field, and life has brought me full circle back here as a legal assistant/paralegal. My favorite part of working here is the strong sense of family that we all have with each other. We can laugh with each other, we can confide in each other, and when I can't think through a situation with my own brain there is always someone available to bounce ideas off of. The level of team work here at Dodd & Maatuka is a huge plus as well.

Q: What is one common misunderstanding of the law that you run into?  

A: Oftentimes, people think that they should get the same outcome in their case as someone else who may have been in a similar situation. As I stated earlier, the law is just as broad as it is wide and each scenario is unique from a legal standpoint. No matter how similar two cases may seem, there are some unique circumstances that ultimately differentiate the two in the eyes of the law.  

By 7007164025 08 Jun, 2017

Q: Where are you from?

A: I'm from Chicago and am a die hard Chicago sports fan. I love the Bulls, Bears, Cubs and White Sox! It's controversial to be a fan of both the Cubs and White Sox in Chicago, but I don't care. They're both great teams!

Q: What was your undergraduate degree in?

A: I attended Stanford University and graduated with a Bachelor's Degree in an interdisciplinary major called "Science, Technology and Society."

Q: Why did you choose that degree program?

A: The degree program combined Humanities, Statistics, Economics and Computer Science. I've always been interested in those areas of study but didn't want to major exclusively in any one of them. Science, Technology and Society allowed me to learn a great deal about a cross section of academic disciplines. It was wonderful!

Q: What inspired you to pursue a career in law?

A: After undergrad I worked for several years in finance and technology so I have a business background. I wanted to round out my business knowledge with a firm understanding of the law because it is an integral part of business and society.  

Q: You’re currently going into your third year as a law student at the University of Illinois - why did you choose Illinois?

A: University of Illinois is one of the best schools in the nation with a large percentage of the faculty possessing PhD's. This is important to me because I want a cutting edge legal education from professors who are constantly researching the law, publishing papers and books and integrating their research in the lesson plans.

Q: What has been your most challenging moment either as a law student or as a law clerk?

A: By far it was my Constitutional Law class in my first year! The amount of reading for that course was truly staggering and the final was eight hours long. Believe it or not, I look at that class as one of my favorites and I am grateful for the experience. I have a fundamentally different appreciation for our Constitution as a result of my Constitutional Law class.

Q: What has been your most rewarding moment as a law student or as a law clerk?

A: As a law clerk I've done work on cases whose outcomes have changed our clients' lives for the better. I can't identify a singular moment as being the most rewarding because every victory for our clients is unique. That's what makes being a lawyer so special. No two cases are exactly the same. Each victory for our clients is rewarding in its own way.

Q: What do you enjoy doing outside of the office?

A: I'm an avid runner and outdoor enthusiast. I like going on hikes, playing softball and just about any sporting activity outdoors.

Q: What is your practice area/are your practice areas?

A: Immigration Law is my primary focus, but I also do work in other areas when needed.

Q: Do you have any specific career goals?

A: At this point I continue to leave my options open. I absolutely love the experience I've gained in Immigration Law and could see myself pursuing that full time. But I'm still curious about other areas of law and want to use my final year of law school to test these waters before making a final determination.

Q: What are you most looking forward to when you become an attorney?

A: Being an advocate for my clients is what I look forward to most. We are lucky to live in a country that has a sound legal system with enforceable laws that exist for the benefit of society. As an attorney, I will be a part of the legal construct to advocate for those who need the system to work on their behalf.  

Q: What is your favorite part about working at Dodd & Maatuka?

A: I love the level of passion for their job that EVERY person at Dodd & Maatuka brings to work each day. I've honestly never seen this before in previous jobs I've had. From the moment the doors open in the morning, the office begins to hum with passionate discussions amongst the staff and with clients about our cases. We talk, deliberate, listen, advise and problem solve. As a clerk I find this passion infectious and inspiring.  

Q: Who is your favorite Supreme Court justice?

A: Anthony Kennedy is my favorite Supreme Court justice. I find his reasoning to be more tempered and less partisan than the other jurists. His opinions are exceptionally well reasoned and I admire his willingness to break with conservatives or liberals to vote his conscience on controversial cases.

Q: What is one common misunderstanding of the law that you run into?

A: That the law and therefore justice works to the advantage of the wealthy and well connected and that the underprivileged, poor and working class do not have access to adequate representation and justice. An attorney who is passionate about fairness, knowledgeable of the law, and relentless in her pursuit of justice will always be able to use the law to work to the advantage of her clients. Socioeconomic status should not make a difference. That's certainly the case at Dodd & Maatuka.

By 7007164025 26 May, 2017

Q: Where are you from?

A: I am originally from Davenport, Iowa.

Q: What was your undergraduate degree in?

A: I graduated with my bachelor’s degree in Comparative Literature in December.

Q: Why did you choose that degree program?

A: Comparative Literature is a really interesting and intensive program – instead of just reading books, you become an expert in a certain area, taking into consideration politics, history, society, economics, language, and international events when reading a text.

Q: So what is your area of expertise?

A: I focused on post-colonial literature in the Caribbean and Africa, and my translation language is French.

Q: What inspired you to pursue a career in law?

A: I spent 5 years away from my undergraduate program, and during that time I lived in Austin, Texas. For a time I worked for the Texas State Law Library, corresponding with inmates in Texas, many of whom were on death row. That experience changed my life. I saw how much help they needed with appealing their convictions or understanding what went wrong with their original trial, and seeing that paired with the urgency of untreated mental illnesses or approaching execution dates inspired me to go to law school so that I can work as an advocate for people like them one day.

Q: You just accepted your admission offer at the University of the District of Columbia’s law school – congratulations! Why did you choose that law school?

A: Thank you! UDC’s law school has a robust focus on public interest law and serving the DC community which is in line with my own goals and focus. Living in the heart of American government will be pretty cool, too.

Q: What has been your most challenging moment either as a student or as a law clerk?

A: I volunteered to help with an actual innocence case over the past couple of years with a professor at the University of Illinois. The most challenging moment was when we received a denial after petitioning to file an appeal because of an error in strategy that our client’s trial attorney made. That broke my heart, knowing that because of one error made by an ineffective attorney, this client will be in prison for another 7 years.

Q: What has been your most rewarding moment as a student or as a law clerk?

A: Seeing the research and writing I do impact our clients positively is always incredibly rewarding.

Q: What kind of volunteer activities do you take part in?

A: I spend much of my time working to increase mental health awareness and de-stigmatize mental illness.

Q: What do you enjoy doing outside of the office?

A: I enjoy spending time with my dog Molly Ivins and my fiancé Brad, going on hikes, drinking coffee, and reading.

Q: What is your practice area/are your practice areas?

A: Currently I help the attorneys at Dodd & Maatuka with just about anything, but mostly Personal Injury and Wrongful Death.

Q: Do you have any specific career goals?

A: To help exonerate at least one wrongfully convicted person and help establish mental health support programs for inmates working on their appeals.

Q: What are you most looking forward to when you become an attorney?

A: Arguing and advocating for my very own clients.

Q: What is your favorite part about working at Dodd & Maatuka?

A: This whole office is like a big family – I love the way we all work together to advocate for our clients and how everyone is there to help.

Q: Who is your favorite Supreme Court justice?

A: My favorite Supreme Court justice at the moment is Sonia Sotomayor – mostly because of her approach to the law and her history.

Q: What is one common misunderstanding of the law that you run into?

A: That anyone who is convicted is guilty. We are learning more and more about the false confessions, false testimony, and just bad lawyering that get innocent people sentenced to prison, and the extent to which that's happening is staggering.

By 7007164025 12 May, 2017

Q: Where are you from?

A: Tuscola, IL


Q: You went to Parkland College, correct?

A: Yes, I have an Associates degree from Parkland.


Q: What led you to choose Parkland?

A: I decided to attend Parkland after high school to get a two year degree that might help me explore my options and obtain a job that would support me for whatever adventures came next.  


Q: What inspired you to pursue a career in law?

A: It's just kind of where I ended up - while it wasn't my initial goal, it's a perfect fit. I took a legal terminology class when I realized how many law firms there are in Champaign/Urbana. I interned here at Dodd & Maatuka (the firm was under a different name then) starting out as a receptionist and Mr. Dodd decided to keep me on, later making me a legal assistant. 20 years later I'm still here.    


Q: What was your most challenging moment in the legal field?

A: Unfortunately I see a lot of unfairness and unhappiness in the areas I assist with, which inspires my drive to help our clients even more.  


Q: What has been your most rewarding moment?

A: Being able to help the attorneys accomplish good outcomes for their clients is always a wonderful feeling.  


Q: What do you enjoy doing outside of the office?

A: Spending time with my husband, family and friends. Even though I don't get to do it as often as I would like, I love to travel - preferably to anywhere with a beach (you can see in the photo above how much I love the beach!). I also like to do all kinds of craft projects.


Q: Name a fun fact about you.

A: I make handmade cards and invitations when I'm not busy doing other things - it is so much fun!


Q: What is your practice area/are your practice areas?

A: I assist with all the Family Law cases and Guardianship cases


Q: What is your favorite part about working at Dodd & Maatuka?

A: The family-like environment that we have. In the 20 years I have been here we've always had an amazing group of people to work with that have been supportive both as colleagues and friends.      


Q: What is one common misunderstanding of the law that you run into?

A: It's not like they show on TV. There's a process and it can take some time to get things accomplished especially when there are several people involved.


As always, if you have any legal questions, feel free to call us at (217) 356-9500 to set up a consultation.

By 7007164025 05 Apr, 2017
Orko Bagchi, currently finishing up his final semester of law school, enjoyed a little break from work to answer some questions...

Q:  Where are you from?

A: I'm originally from Kolkata, India, but my parents and I moved to the Northwest suburbs when I was a little kid.

Q: You went to University of Missouri for your undergraduate degree - what did you study, and why?

A: My degree is in Journalism and History. I chose those because I love studying ancient civilizations and I love writing.

Q: Well now we need to know - what is your favorite ancient civilization?

A: Rome, for two reasons: first, much of our law came from them. Second, they gave the world aqueducts, which are kind of important.

Q: What inspired you to pursue a career in law?

A: In college, I worked at a local newspaper and got to cover local court news, where I met attorneys, and developed an interest in law.

Q: You're currently in your final semester at the University of Illinois, what made you choose Illinois?

A: I want to live and practice in Illinois, and I think it's a very collegial atmosphere, unlike a lot of other law schools. It's about building relationships, not competing.

Q: What has been a frustration for you in your legal education?

A: I very much appreciate my education, but one of the challenges legal education faces is that it hasn't changed in about 170 years, which means that for the first couple of years as an attorney you are a liability, since you probably haven't learned how to be a practicing lawyer. My position here at Dodd & Maatuka has been an incredible learning experience for me, and has significantly added to my lawyering skills.

Q: What do you like most about working in the legal field?

A: I love working at an actual law firm. But the best part is when I see writing that I've done actually filed with the court, and actually seeing that writing positively affect resolutions that help our clients.

Q: What kind of volunteer activities do you participate in?

A: At home in the suburbs, I volunteer for my local library. I help out with the summer reading program for kids - it is super cool and adorable to have the kids come in to the library to either read to us or have our staff read to them.

Q: What else do you enjoy doing outside of the office?

A: I'm a big fan of comic books, watching prestige TV, horror movies, and reading books that make me mad.

Q: Ok, so why books that make you mad?

A: Books that make me angry help me grow as a person, and I actually find them very inspirational, because they make me want to affect change in the world.

Q: What area of law do you want to go into?

A: Bankruptcy law.

Q: What is your favorite part about working at Dodd & Maatuka?

A: Our attorneys put a lot of trust in me as a clerk and have allowed me to learn and grow as an attorney. It's a great atmosphere that fosters friendship and growth.

Q: Who is your favorite Supreme Court Justice?

A: I am a big fan of Earl Warren. He penned some of the most important decisions of the civil rights era, and was arguably one of the most important figureheads in the Supreme Court.

Q: What is one common misunderstanding of the law that you've run into?

A: That lawyering works the way it's portrayed on TV. The legal world moves very slowly, and that's intentional and necessary to protect the interests of all involved parties.

By 7007164025 22 Mar, 2017

This week, we are spotlighting Jennifer Zang, our newest associate, through a Q & A session:

Q: Jen, where are you from?

A: I am originally from Cullom, Illinois, but at the moment I live in Bloomington, Illinois.

Q: What was your undergraduate degree in?

A: I have my bachelor’s degree in Politics & Government. I chose that program because of my continual interest in the law and legal studies. I have also completed Illinois State University’s Paralegal Certification program, which is one of the first of its kind.

Q: What inspired you to pursue a career in law?

A: I have always been interested in being an advocate for people, and I was given the opportunity to work for a law firm in Pontiac, Illinois, after graduating high school. There I had the good fortune of working with inspiring attorneys and mentors who helped me understand the law and grow to appreciate it even more.

Q: You went to law school here in Champaign, at the University of Illinois. Was there any special reason for choosing the U of I?

A: Aside from it being the best logistical option, I felt right at home at the University of Illinois. The faculty was motivating and I really enjoyed all of the opportunities I had to work in the legal field while attending law school, such as volunteering for the Illinois Innocence Project.

Q: What do you find most challenging about the practice of law?

A: My most challenging moments are when clients are in tough situations and I am limited in my ability to help them. I do everything that I can as an attorney and advocate for my clients to make sure that they can be successful, and when I am met with limits, it’s difficult.

Q: What do you find most rewarding about the practice of law?

A: The most rewarding moments for me are when I am able to advocate for a client and help them find answers and solutions in places where they did not see them before.

Q: You are very active in the community - what kind of volunteer activities do you take part in?

A: Well, that’s a long list. But I help manage a mental health support chat to assist people with mental health questions or just offer them general support. I also love animals, and spend much of my spare time volunteering with an organization called PetNet, which is a network of volunteers who transport animals from situations where they may be facing danger to loving homes. In addition to that, I am a foster for many of the dogs who I help transport, and I also manage the Champaign-Urbana Lost Pets page on Facebook.

Q: What else do you enjoy doing outside of the office?

A: While I love all of the volunteering activities I do, I also enjoy reading and spending time with my family.

Q: What areas is your practice mainly focused in?

A: I do everything from Social Security to Employment, Litigation, Family law, Worker’s Compensation, Not-For-Profits, Trademarks, Corporate law, Probate, Estate Planning, Special Needs Trusts, and Landlord-Tenant matters.

Q: What are your career goals?

A: To continue to be a strong advocate for my clients.

Q: What is your favorite part about being an attorney?

A: I love the opportunity I have to spend every day working with encouraging and inspiring people.

Q: That leads into my next question – what is your favorite part about Dodd & Maatuka?

A: I love the family-like atmosphere, and the freedom I have to create and build my own practice with skilled and experienced attorneys to help and guide me.

Q: Who is your favorite Supreme Court justice, and why?

A: Ruth Bader-Ginsburg is definitely my favorite. She is an inspiring and strong female leader, and as a justice she has firm standards when law is in question.

Q: What is one common misunderstanding of the practice of law that you run into?

A: People tend to expect attorneys to tell them what to do. But our job really is to tell our clients what their options are and assist them in getting the relief they are entitled to while following the path the client chooses to take. Attorneys are here to help you understand your options.

Do you have questions for Jen? Feel free to comment below with them! 


If you'd like to schedule a consultation with Jen, please call us at (217) 356-9500.

By 7007164025 21 Mar, 2017

Along with our regular updates on how law changes and how new laws can affect you, we are going to be shining the spotlight on our wonderful staff here at Dodd & Maatuka. Every single staff member plays an important role in our success and the success of you – our clients! Please check back for updates as we introduce you to each member of our team.

And as always, do not hesitate to give us a call to schedule a consultation at (217) 356-9500!

By 7007164025 07 Mar, 2017

Ours is a country of immigrants, and who gets in and stays in is a matter of immigration policy. As the topic of immigration has continued to increase in momentum, so has the number of concerned phone calls to my office.

What’s next? What will happen to me and my family? What will happen to my employee?

So, what is next for immigration?

Well, neither the executive office nor the Department of Homeland Security has confided that information in me.

An ear to Washington DC provides clues, but no definite answers. We know the “countries of concern” – Iraq, Syria, Iran, Sudan, Libya, Somalia and Yemen – and we know the current administration doesn’t like refugees. We can expect hiring in border patrol and Immigration and Customs Enforcement, and we should expect more deportations.

But most immigrants aren’t refugees, and the “countries of concern” are not the countries that send the most immigrants to the U.S.

What I can tell you, and what will hopefully guide you as you follow the news, scroll down your newsfeed and chat with co-workers is some background on certain immigration policies as they stand today.

DACA

Executive actions about immigration are not an invention of the current administration. On June 15, 2012, President Barack Obama announced a new policy that allows certain young people who entered the U.S. as children without legal entry to remain in the U.S. This created a non-status called Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, or what is also mistakenly called the Dream Act (a failed bill meant to provide a more restrictive group of young people permanent residence in the U.S.). The rules are straightforward: be under the age of 31 on June 15, 2012, arrive in the U.S. prior to your 16th birthday, reside in the U.S. from at least June 15, 2007 to the present, be present in the U.S. on June 15, 2007, be in school or a U.S. high school graduate or equivalent or an honorably discharged veteran of the U.S. Coast Guard or Armed Forces, and not be convicted of a felony, serious misdemeanor or three or more misdemeanors.

Applicants must file an application with USCIS with a filing fee. Approved DACA recipients will not be sought for removal from the U.S.  Deferred action is only valid for two years and must be renewed with a new application and filing fee. Note these young people are not actually granted any legal status in the U.S. Their removal from the U.S. is simply deferred because they are seen as a low risk to the U.S.  

Applicants may concurrently file an application for employment authorization. This is often the most valued benefit of DACA, because it allows these young people to stop hiding. They are no longer forced to work under the table or with a false social security number. Education, jobs and even driving are more attainable for DACA recipients.

Family-Based Immigration

“Love recognizes no barriers,” posted author Maya Angelou on her facebook page on January 11, 2013. “It jumps hurdles, leaps fences, penetrates walls to arrive at its destination full of hope.”

And that is exactly what our immigration policies are set-up to allow, depending on who exactly loves whom.

Immigration policies divide loved ones into two categories – immediate relatives and nonimmediate relatives. Visas to enter the U.S. are available for immediate relatives upon completion of an application (or two, or three…), pay a filing fee (or two, or three…), and attend interviews. All applications must be supported by evidence, such as marriage certificates, birth certificates, DNA tests, family photographs and comingling of finances. Petitioners also must prove that they can afford to support their loved ones in the U.S., or that they know someone who is willing to do so, because the U.S. will not accept anyone who will be a financial burden on the country.

Immediate relatives are generally the spouse, child under 21 or parent of a U.S. citizen.  

Visas for nonimmediate relatives are subject to an annual cap. Once that cap is reached, all remaining applicants must wait for a new visas to be available next year. For countries that send a lot of immigrants to the U.S., the wait list for a visa is even longer. Nonimmediate relatives are generally older children of U.S. citizens, spouse and children of permanent residents, and siblings of U.S. citizens.

For example, a brother applying for his sister from England must wait approximately 13 years for his sister’s visa, while a brother applying for his sister from the Philippines must wait approximately 24 years for a visa. For nonimmediate relatives, family-based immigration is not a fast-track to enter the U.S.

Employment-Based Immigration

With the University of Illinois and surrounding colleges pouring qualified individuals into the work force, employers turn to immigration policies to hold on to the international graduates they wish to hire.

Employers have the option of hiring international students and providing those students ways to remain in the U.S. temporarily, and with more time, effort and money, the ability to sponsor their employees for permanent residence in the U.S.

There are several set-backs, though. First, not all employers want to hire an attorney and take on the expense of filing immigration applications.

Even when an employer is willing to pay, the employer must overcome certain challenges to make sure hiring this individual does not negatively affect U.S. workers. For example, employers of international employees usually must pay the international employee a relatively high wage.

An area where international students are sought locally is start-up businesses, where there are usually a few founders, great ideas, and not much money. Founders are not paid when their business is getting started, as they raise capital and work to prove the legitimacy of their ideas. If one of those founders is an international graduate who must be paid by the company, the company may simply decide keeping that founder is impossible. The international founder can work for the company from back home or leave the company entirely, either to leave the U.S. or go to another company with more resources. If the company does not survive without that founder, a future source of local income and jobs stops dead in its tracks.

Despite the difficulties, various visas are available with the assistance of an employer. This includes visas for specialty occupations and visas for international companies wishing to move an employee from a foreign office to a U.S. office.  

Other methods of entry to the U.S.

There are other ways to enter the U.S. Individuals may enter as an immigrant, meaning with the intent to remain in the U.S. permanently, or as a non-immigrant, meaning the individual is entering the U.S. for a defined period of time. Immigrant visas include diversity visas and fiancé visas. Non-immigrant visas include student visas and tourist visas.

The laws in each of these areas are more detailed than what I can discuss here. This a rapidly changing area of the law. Before you begin any immigration application, speak with an immigration attorney. As always, do not hesitate to call us at (217) 356-9500 for a consultation.     

 - Roaa M. Al-Heeti, Partner at Dodd & Maatuka

By 7007164025 08 Feb, 2017

Every time we turn around, we are hearing about a new wind energy project somewhere in Illinois.  It seems that wind is the hottest renewable energy resource in Illinois and maybe the Midwest.  With Federal and state incentives for renewable energy production, wind farm developers can’t seem to build their projects fast enough and with our good supply of wind and access to the electrical power grid, Illinois is attracting a lot of them.


Currently, Illinois has approximately seventeen wind farm projects permitted or under construction, with another 57 more projects proposed.  With so much activity from wind developers in the state, those of us in the agriculture and renewable energy industries can’t help but remember the buzz of activity created just a few short years ago by the ethanol industry and its developers.  We all know that ethanol plant development has slowed down dramatically thanks to the high price of corn in 2007 and 2008 and how that left some investors in a bad situation when it came to trying to start up an ethanol plant at the peak of high corn prices.


Today many landowners in Illinois are being approached by wind farm developers for easements or leases to put wind turbines on their property and there are many risks for the landowner to consider before entering into any agreement.


Unfortunately, a landowner’s ability to negotiate with wind developers and achieve productive results seems to be very limited.  Wind developers are in a position where there is such support for wind farm projects that some landowners are signing agreements without much serious consideration of the long-term consequences and without legal consultation on the matter.  This in turn affects the neighbors who are worried about protecting their rights and their property.  When landowners attempt to negotiate an agreement, many are finding that the developers won’t make adjustments to the terms of the agreements, leaving only two options for the landowner: to accept the offered terms or to not be contractually involved in the project.  


The catch is, if a landowner opts not to sign the contract, he or she still lives with the project in their backyard.  So many decide they might as well join in the project and get paid.  However, this line of thinking does not make the risks of entering into an easement or lease go away.


The answer to this dilemma is for landowners to negotiate their contracts together, as a group.  There is power in numbers, and if the landowners want to reduce their risks and protect their rights they need to have something to negotiate with.  It’s not going to stop a project if one or two landowners with a couple of hundred acres don’t sign up, but if landowners holding several thousand acres decline to sign contracts, then the landowners have some negotiating power and the developers are going to be more likely to adjust the language in the contracts to be more protective of the landowners.


Landowners, especially farmers, are independent people.  They don’t like to discuss their business with anyone and the idea of discussing it with their neighboring landowner is usually out of the question.  But this is one of those times when open discussion can lead to some much better results for the landowner.


A few groups of landowners in Illinois have worked together to negotiate contract terms and this is becoming common in many other Midwestern states facing wind projects.  However, the majority of Illinois wind projects are signing landowners up one by one and negotiations between individual landowners and the wind developers have resulted in extremely minimal or no changes from the original offered contracts.


Landowners need to work together, and with an experienced farm real estate attorney to negotiate terms protecting their own interests into the contracts. This can ensure that landowners are protected from the risks of these wind projects and that the wind farm developers compensate the landowners for having an asset that is beneficially located where the wind supply is good and our access to the grid is sufficient.


For more information on wind easements and leases, contact Kyle Emkes at Dodd & Maatuka, (217) 356-9600. We are here to help!
By 7007164025 01 Feb, 2017
If you are a green card holder (lawful permanent resident) outside of the U.S. please reach out to an immigration attorney before you travel back to the U.S.

If you do plan to travel back to the US, you should fill out a USCIS G-28 form first that officially appoints an attorney to represent you in immigration situations and have that completed form with you as you board your flight.

The refugee program is being halted immediately, for at least 120 days. This will mean that anyone, anywhere in the process, will not move forward. The effort to resettle Syrian refugees in the U.S. is being halted indefinitely.

Other info:
If you are non-citizen, even green card holder (lawful permanent residents), from one of the seven countries named, and you are ALREADY INSIDE the U.S., plan to DELAY all international travel for at least 90 days.

IF YOU LEAVE YOU ARE LIKELY TO BE DENIED RE-ENTRY.
If you are a non-citizen from one of the seven countries named, and you are OUTSIDE of the U.S., you will face issues at the airport upon attempting to re-enter the US.

IF YOU ARE ASKED TO SIGN AN I-407 AT THE AIRPORT OR BORDER DO NOT SIGN IT.  ASK FOR THE SUPERVISOR WHO HANDLES LPR ADMISSIONS. If you sign it, you will be giving up your green card.
Please keep looking for updates in the coming days to assess your travel options. If you are facing an emergency at the airport or are returning to the US in the coming days, please have our numbers on hand (CAIR National:  202.488.8787 )

Whether you are a citizen or not, do not permit law enforcement to enter your home without a warrant. Even if they have a warrant, you should consult with an attorney before speaking to them. Get copies of business cards of all law enforcement officials.

Please do not hesitate to contact us at (217) 356-9500 if you or a family member are in need of a consultation!
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Dodd & Maatuka

By 7007164025 21 Jun, 2017

Q: Where are you from? 

A: I was born and raised here in Champaign-Urbana. I have lived here all my life, and am a graduate of Urbana High School. GO TIGERS!!

Q: What was your undergraduate degree in? 

A: I studied Speech Pathology and Audiology at Illinois State University in Normal, Illinois.  

Q: Why did you choose that degree program?  

A: When I was 16 years old, I was given the wonderful opportunity of working at the U of I's Department of Speech and Hearing Science through the extra help program. While working there, I developed a high interest in the Speech and Language Pathology field. As a young child growing up, I have always had a natural fascination with words, vocabulary and enunciation. I would always correct my dad whenever he purposefully mispronounced any words.  

Q: What inspired you to pursue a career in law?  

A: I kind of stumbled into the legal world, although my mother always told me that I argue so much that I needed to become an attorney. I was given an opportunity approximately 16 years ago by attorney Robert Dodd. He employed me as a receptionist, and while in that position I learned some basic skills pertaining to legal work. At that time, my interest in law had peaked. After working for Mr. Dodd, I gained further experience working with other attorneys at 2 other local law firms as a legal assistant and that is what I have been doing ever since.  

Q: What was your most challenging moment in the legal field? 

A: Almost every day is a challenge. Because the law hits such a broad range of scenarios with each bearing unique differences, two cases can never be treated the same. Also, the law is ever changing and keeping up with those changes can definitely become challenging especially if the law happens to change in the middle of a case.  

Q: What has been your most rewarding moment?  

A: It is most rewarding when we achieve legal justice for our clients.

Q: What kind of volunteer activities do you take part in?  

A: I don't do much volunteering these days. In the past, I volunteered with a lot of youth programs and events at my church.

Q: What do you enjoy doing outside of the office?  

A: I enjoy singing and performing. I currently sing with two local blues and R&B bands in the C-U area. Other than that, I find entertainment in my teenage daughter.  

Q: Name a fun fact about you.  

A: I occasionally enjoy sitting in a quiet corner and writing poetry.

Q: What is your practice area/are your practice areas?  

A: I was fortunate to gain experience in multiple areas of law over the course of the past 12 years. Currently, I am the real estate paralegal for the firm and I also handle workers' compensation.

Q: What is your favorite part about working at Dodd & Maatuka? 

A: I am no stranger to Dodd & Maatuka. Attorney Robert Dodd gave me my first breakthrough opportunity at working in the legal field, and life has brought me full circle back here as a legal assistant/paralegal. My favorite part of working here is the strong sense of family that we all have with each other. We can laugh with each other, we can confide in each other, and when I can't think through a situation with my own brain there is always someone available to bounce ideas off of. The level of team work here at Dodd & Maatuka is a huge plus as well.

Q: What is one common misunderstanding of the law that you run into?  

A: Oftentimes, people think that they should get the same outcome in their case as someone else who may have been in a similar situation. As I stated earlier, the law is just as broad as it is wide and each scenario is unique from a legal standpoint. No matter how similar two cases may seem, there are some unique circumstances that ultimately differentiate the two in the eyes of the law.  

By 7007164025 08 Jun, 2017

Q: Where are you from?

A: I'm from Chicago and am a die hard Chicago sports fan. I love the Bulls, Bears, Cubs and White Sox! It's controversial to be a fan of both the Cubs and White Sox in Chicago, but I don't care. They're both great teams!

Q: What was your undergraduate degree in?

A: I attended Stanford University and graduated with a Bachelor's Degree in an interdisciplinary major called "Science, Technology and Society."

Q: Why did you choose that degree program?

A: The degree program combined Humanities, Statistics, Economics and Computer Science. I've always been interested in those areas of study but didn't want to major exclusively in any one of them. Science, Technology and Society allowed me to learn a great deal about a cross section of academic disciplines. It was wonderful!

Q: What inspired you to pursue a career in law?

A: After undergrad I worked for several years in finance and technology so I have a business background. I wanted to round out my business knowledge with a firm understanding of the law because it is an integral part of business and society.  

Q: You’re currently going into your third year as a law student at the University of Illinois - why did you choose Illinois?

A: University of Illinois is one of the best schools in the nation with a large percentage of the faculty possessing PhD's. This is important to me because I want a cutting edge legal education from professors who are constantly researching the law, publishing papers and books and integrating their research in the lesson plans.

Q: What has been your most challenging moment either as a law student or as a law clerk?

A: By far it was my Constitutional Law class in my first year! The amount of reading for that course was truly staggering and the final was eight hours long. Believe it or not, I look at that class as one of my favorites and I am grateful for the experience. I have a fundamentally different appreciation for our Constitution as a result of my Constitutional Law class.

Q: What has been your most rewarding moment as a law student or as a law clerk?

A: As a law clerk I've done work on cases whose outcomes have changed our clients' lives for the better. I can't identify a singular moment as being the most rewarding because every victory for our clients is unique. That's what makes being a lawyer so special. No two cases are exactly the same. Each victory for our clients is rewarding in its own way.

Q: What do you enjoy doing outside of the office?

A: I'm an avid runner and outdoor enthusiast. I like going on hikes, playing softball and just about any sporting activity outdoors.

Q: What is your practice area/are your practice areas?

A: Immigration Law is my primary focus, but I also do work in other areas when needed.

Q: Do you have any specific career goals?

A: At this point I continue to leave my options open. I absolutely love the experience I've gained in Immigration Law and could see myself pursuing that full time. But I'm still curious about other areas of law and want to use my final year of law school to test these waters before making a final determination.

Q: What are you most looking forward to when you become an attorney?

A: Being an advocate for my clients is what I look forward to most. We are lucky to live in a country that has a sound legal system with enforceable laws that exist for the benefit of society. As an attorney, I will be a part of the legal construct to advocate for those who need the system to work on their behalf.  

Q: What is your favorite part about working at Dodd & Maatuka?

A: I love the level of passion for their job that EVERY person at Dodd & Maatuka brings to work each day. I've honestly never seen this before in previous jobs I've had. From the moment the doors open in the morning, the office begins to hum with passionate discussions amongst the staff and with clients about our cases. We talk, deliberate, listen, advise and problem solve. As a clerk I find this passion infectious and inspiring.  

Q: Who is your favorite Supreme Court justice?

A: Anthony Kennedy is my favorite Supreme Court justice. I find his reasoning to be more tempered and less partisan than the other jurists. His opinions are exceptionally well reasoned and I admire his willingness to break with conservatives or liberals to vote his conscience on controversial cases.

Q: What is one common misunderstanding of the law that you run into?

A: That the law and therefore justice works to the advantage of the wealthy and well connected and that the underprivileged, poor and working class do not have access to adequate representation and justice. An attorney who is passionate about fairness, knowledgeable of the law, and relentless in her pursuit of justice will always be able to use the law to work to the advantage of her clients. Socioeconomic status should not make a difference. That's certainly the case at Dodd & Maatuka.

By 7007164025 26 May, 2017

Q: Where are you from?

A: I am originally from Davenport, Iowa.

Q: What was your undergraduate degree in?

A: I graduated with my bachelor’s degree in Comparative Literature in December.

Q: Why did you choose that degree program?

A: Comparative Literature is a really interesting and intensive program – instead of just reading books, you become an expert in a certain area, taking into consideration politics, history, society, economics, language, and international events when reading a text.

Q: So what is your area of expertise?

A: I focused on post-colonial literature in the Caribbean and Africa, and my translation language is French.

Q: What inspired you to pursue a career in law?

A: I spent 5 years away from my undergraduate program, and during that time I lived in Austin, Texas. For a time I worked for the Texas State Law Library, corresponding with inmates in Texas, many of whom were on death row. That experience changed my life. I saw how much help they needed with appealing their convictions or understanding what went wrong with their original trial, and seeing that paired with the urgency of untreated mental illnesses or approaching execution dates inspired me to go to law school so that I can work as an advocate for people like them one day.

Q: You just accepted your admission offer at the University of the District of Columbia’s law school – congratulations! Why did you choose that law school?

A: Thank you! UDC’s law school has a robust focus on public interest law and serving the DC community which is in line with my own goals and focus. Living in the heart of American government will be pretty cool, too.

Q: What has been your most challenging moment either as a student or as a law clerk?

A: I volunteered to help with an actual innocence case over the past couple of years with a professor at the University of Illinois. The most challenging moment was when we received a denial after petitioning to file an appeal because of an error in strategy that our client’s trial attorney made. That broke my heart, knowing that because of one error made by an ineffective attorney, this client will be in prison for another 7 years.

Q: What has been your most rewarding moment as a student or as a law clerk?

A: Seeing the research and writing I do impact our clients positively is always incredibly rewarding.

Q: What kind of volunteer activities do you take part in?

A: I spend much of my time working to increase mental health awareness and de-stigmatize mental illness.

Q: What do you enjoy doing outside of the office?

A: I enjoy spending time with my dog Molly Ivins and my fiancé Brad, going on hikes, drinking coffee, and reading.

Q: What is your practice area/are your practice areas?

A: Currently I help the attorneys at Dodd & Maatuka with just about anything, but mostly Personal Injury and Wrongful Death.

Q: Do you have any specific career goals?

A: To help exonerate at least one wrongfully convicted person and help establish mental health support programs for inmates working on their appeals.

Q: What are you most looking forward to when you become an attorney?

A: Arguing and advocating for my very own clients.

Q: What is your favorite part about working at Dodd & Maatuka?

A: This whole office is like a big family – I love the way we all work together to advocate for our clients and how everyone is there to help.

Q: Who is your favorite Supreme Court justice?

A: My favorite Supreme Court justice at the moment is Sonia Sotomayor – mostly because of her approach to the law and her history.

Q: What is one common misunderstanding of the law that you run into?

A: That anyone who is convicted is guilty. We are learning more and more about the false confessions, false testimony, and just bad lawyering that get innocent people sentenced to prison, and the extent to which that's happening is staggering.

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