If you're attending the National Workers' Compensation and Disability Conference in Las Vegas this week, don't miss our Owner and Founder, Shuaib Ahmed, as he delivers a featured presentation on Thursday.

Head to South Pacific F at the Mandalay Bay at 3:00 on Thursday, October 21.

We hope to see you there!

ASA Law Group's Quarterly Intention
Author: Talin Maghakian

Well, we are less than three months out from 2022! It is hard to believe we are more than a year and a half out from March of 2020 - a date which will live in infamy for all of us. While much has progressed and a lot has changed since then, many of us continue to navigate through this rather strange period of limbo. On one hand, we want to lunge forward, do all the things, and make up for lost time while, at the same time, continue to exercise caution and moderation.

However, through uncertainties, it is important to remember what brought us this far - faith. Faith in each other and faith in ourselves. Our ability to fully rely on our own abilities, resolve, and resilience is often underestimated but is always ever present. Having faith in one another, our families, our friends, our colleagues is also paramount and they, too, can often help us to remember and tap into our own strengths.

Through this last leg of 2021, let us maintain sight of that, so that we enter the new year with faith at the forefront of all we do.

Updated Illinois Workers' Compensation Commission Procedures
Author: Adan Ramirez

As the Commission continues to work toward resuming normal operations in this new age of electronic filings, the Commission will again enforce the Red Line, as defined at 50 Ill. Admin. Code Sec. 9020.60 b) 2) D), starting November 1, 2021. Red Line cases are those that are three years old or older and require more attention. 
So how will this work? Great question! Red Line case will be receiving pre-trial dates, unless, the Petitioner requests via motion that the Red Line case be continued by filing an IC41 Form, “ARBITRATION CASE INFORMATION SHEET,” and Request a Continuance through CompFile, at least 15 days prior to the corresponding status call. Respondent’s, will then have the opportunity to object the continuance at the status call or by filing a response in CompFile. 
If the assigned arbitrator does not believe there’s sufficient justification for continuance of the Red Line case or if there was no IC41 Form filed , a pre-trial conference will be set. Failure to appear at said pre-trial may result in dismissal of the case. 
Other Commission updates include:
  • All Motions and matters requiring a personal appearance (e.g. a Motion for Leave to Withdraw) will be heard, in-person, by the Arbitrator on his or her first trial date in each setting
  • Pro Se settlements may still be petitioned to be conducted virtually, however, in-person Pro Se settlements may also be heard
  • Starting January 3, 2022, there will be two status calls in Chicago, the first at 11:00 am and the second 2:00 pm

Governor Pritzker Appointed Six New Arbitrators and Two New Commissioners

Author: Karla Rodriguez

Arbitrator Jacqueline Hickey
Arbitrator Hickey will be serving a term ending July 1, 2022. Arbitrator Hickey has gained much experience on the plaintiff-side, representing injured persons in litigation.

Arbitrator Hickey was a Trial Attorney for GWC Injury Attorneys where she gained experience working on a range of cases including medical malpractice, construction negligence and large trucking accidents. She also previously worked at O’Connor & Nakos, another plaintiff-side firm. Hickey is a member of the Illinois Trial Lawyers Association and the Hispanic Lawyers Association of Illinois. 

She holds a Juris Doctor from John Marshall Law School and Bachelor of Science from DePaul University. 

Arbitrator Roma Parikh Dalal
Arbitrator Dalal will also be serving a term ending July 1, 2022. She will take over the Call previously assigned to former Arbitrator Carolyn Doherty, who was promoted to Commissioner. This change will hopefully be favorable to the Respondents’ bar, as Arbitrator Dalal has been on the defense-side for most of her practice as an attorney, whereas Arbitrator Doherty was quite petitioner-friendly during her tenure as Arbitrator. 

Arbitrator Dalal worked as an Associate Attorney for nearly ten years at Wiedner & McAuliffe, Ltd. She was then named partner, where she provided legal assistance, advice and counsel on workers’ compensation cases.

She received her Bachelor of Arts from the University of Michigan and law degree from DePaul University College of Law. 

The following (4) Arbitrators will be serving a term ending July 1, 2024:

Arbitrator Ana Vazquez
Based on her prior experience, it is difficult to determine whether Arbitrator Vasquez will be defense- or petitioner-friendly, but we wish her the best! Arbitrator Vasquez will take over the Cook County Call previously assigned to former Arbitrator Christopher Harris, who was previously promoted to Commissioner.

Arbitrator Vazquez was Assistant Attorney General in the Government Representation Division of the Workers’ Compensation Bureau within the Illinois Attorney General’s Office where she represented the state in workers’ compensation related litigation. Prior to that, she was also an attorney for the Law Offices of Lawrence Wolf Levin, a criminal defense firm, where she also served as Law Clerk and Legal Assistant. 

She received her Bachelor of Arts from the University of Illinois at Chicago and her law degree from Chicago-Kent College of Law. 

Arbitrator Antara Nath Rivera
Arbitrator Rivera was a past Investigator for the Workers’ Compensation Fraud Unit of the Illinois Department of Insurance, so we hope she will be open minded and Respondent-friendly. Arbitrator Rivera will take over the Cook County Call previously assigned to former Arbitrator Douglas Steffenson, who unfortunately was not re-appointment by the Governor. 

Arbitrator Rivera served at the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation, as the Chief of General Prosecutions of the Enforcement Unit. She was also an Administrative Law Judge for the Arizona Office of Administrative Hearings in which she presided over cases ranging from licensure for the Arizona medical board to Social Security and Medicaid benefits. Arbitrator Rivera also served in the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office as the Deputy County Attorney in the Special Victims Division, and as an Assistant State’s Attorney for the Criminal Prosecutions Bureau of the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office. 

She received her Bachelor of Arts from the University of Illinois and law degree from Western Michigan University Thomas M. Cooley Law School. 

Arbitrator Nina Mariano 
Arbitrator Mariano also has defense-side experience, as she worked for multiple workers’ compensation law firms prior to her appointment as an Arbitrator.

Arbitrator Mariano was a Trial Attorney at Krakar & Olsen for a year, specializing in Workers' Compensation Insurance Defense. She previously served as an Associate Attorney at Roddy Law Ltd. and at Boudreau & Nisivaco. Arbitrator Mariano will take over the Cook County Call previously assigned to Arbitrator Kurt Carlson, who has been re-assigned to serve as an Arbitrator in Downstate Illinois (Rock Island, Peoria, and Bloomington).

Arbitrator Mariano is a member of the Chicago Bar Association, Workers' Compensation Lawyers Association, Illinois State Bar Association, Hellenic Bar Association, and the Justinian Society of Lawyers. She received her Juris Doctor from Valparaiso University and Bachelor of Science from Northwestern University.  

Arbitrator Crystal Caison 
Arbitrator Caison was a Senior Public Service Administrator with the Illinois Department of Employment Security and a Panel Arbitrator for the State of Illinois. She previously served as a contract Attorney for the Secretary of State, an Inspector General with the State Treasurer, a Law Clerk with the Supreme Court, and as a Community Relations Specialist for the Cook County State Attorney's office. 

She is a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, the Black Women's Lawyers Association, and is a pro bono Attorney for Chicago Volunteer Legal Services. She received her Juris Doctor from John Marshall Law School and Bachelor's from Dominican University. 

Commissioner Barbara Flores
Commission Flores was appointed as an Associate Judge of the Circuit Court of Cook County. Judge Flores had served as a Commissioner and an Arbitrator at the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Commission. In the past, she also served as an Assistant Attorney General. Commission Flores was sworn in as Associate Judge on October 4, 2021.

Commissioner Carolyn Doherty 
Arbitrator Carolyn Doherty has been promoted to Commissioner. She will fill the unexpired term appointment of former Commissioner Barbara Flores and will serve as the Public Member on Panel C. 

During her tenure as an Arbitrator, Commissioner Doherty was very capable, however, she was also quite petitioner-friendly.

She was previously appointed Arbitrator at the Commission in 2011 and previously served as an attorney with the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Commission since 1998. She holds a J.D. from the John Marshall Law School and a B.A. from Marquette University.

Updated California Workers’ Compensation Appeals Board Procedures
Author: Talin Maghakian

Up until now, nearly all procedures related to the California Workers' Compensation Appeals Boardwere carried out virtually. The WCAB, however, recently announced modifications to these procedures that involve a hybrid of sorts, wherein some hearings are held in person, while others continue to be heard on a virtual or telephonic basis.
Beginning October 1, 2021, trials (which include lien trials) and Expedited Hearings will be held in person, thereby necessitating travel for attorneys. All other hearings, for now, will continue to be held remotely. These include Mandatory Settlement Conferences, Status Conferences, lien conferences and priority conferences. In-person appearances, at this time, are limited to trial-based hearings due to the challenges of obtaining remote testimony with court reporters.
This being said, parties still have the option of carrying out trials, lien trials, and expedited hearings remotely. This would involve submission of a joint request to the judge and the judge's subsequent approval to have the trial remotely.
If a trial is to be heard in person, social distancing measures will be observed in the courtroom, and of course, masks will be required.
Of note is the new requirement for parties to meet and confer prior to a Mandatory Settlement Conference. Although, as attorneys, we are always required to indicate our good faith efforts in resolving the matter at hand while filing a Declaration of Readiness to Proceed, this added requirement directs the parties to extend an opportunity to meet and confer in order to flesh out the issue, and, hopefully resolve the issue at hand. This serves to further streamline the remote hearing process at the WCAB and even prevent unnecessary hearings.
Of course, we continue to monitor the situation at the WCAB as it continues to evolve. Should any questions arise, any of our attorneys are always at your disposal to address.

Author: Alexa Venditti

Our furry feature this quarter is none other than the beautiful GiGi! GiGi is a companion to our Illinois Office Manager and Legal Assistant, Idalis!
Like many newer dog owners, Idalis and her boyfriend, CJ, found 2020’s COVID pandemic to be a perfect time to adopt a pet due to the increased time at home. They knew they wanted a black and white puppy with spots, but were open to different breeds and sizes. Then, by pure chance, they found the perfect girl! GiGi’s beautiful black and white coat resembled the basketball jersey of Kobe Bryant’s late daughter, Gianna, and this is how Idalis and CJ chose her name. Ever since she came into their lives, she has been as sweet and special as her namesake.
However, things weren’t always so easy. As a new puppy in a new home, GiGi was very shy and timid. She would keep to herself and lay in her bed with the passing days. However, one day it changed, and there has been no going back! She has transformed into an energetic, playful, and loving furry girl who adores her humans (and can take a FIERCE photo). She is full of life and is such a source of joy for Idalis and CJ!

June 29, 2020
42 pounds
Playing fetch, tug of war, getting chased, looking out the window, and giving kisses
Outside, loud noises, sudden movements
Fave Foods:              
Peanut butter, apples, carrots
Fave Toy:                  
She loves them all, but only if she can rip them apart!
Fave Spot:                 
Her chaise which is a prime spot for looking out the window
Playful, loving, protective
Fave People:             
Idalis, CJ (AKA Mom and Dad), and their nieces and nephews!

ASA's Book Club Q3 Read:
Start With Why by Simon Sinek
Author: Alex Venditti

Think for a moment about organizations and businesses that we know - big or small. We encounter them in everyday life: we buy from them, we work with them, and we work for them. Often we are familiar about how they operate and what they do. But do we know why they do it?
This quarter’s read focuses on that loaded word: why - three letters that carry a lot of weight. 
The book by Sinek starts with comparing two different leadership styles. The first involves leadership manipulating a process to get a specific end result. The latter method begins with an end result specifically in mind and the means to that end come along naturally. The second model is in tune with its “why” concept.
“Why” is synonymous to “purpose” in Sinek’s book. An organization’s “why” is never monetary. It is a higher concept - why does this organization exist? Why do we get moving everyday in our work? What makes us tick? What motivates us? Sinek argues that the most successful organizations and businesses are driven by this question of “why.”
One of his explanations for this lies in human nature itself. More specifically, he talks about the limbic brain, the center of the human brain responsible for feelings and decision making. Companies that choose to lead with their “why” are delving into human makeup and experience much deeper than organizations that focus in on the “what” and “how;” focusing on the “why” allows a consumer and supporter to feel like they belong to something bigger than they are and as part of a wider community. Further, when consumers see that companies are motivated by concepts beyond those that are self-serving, trust organically builds between the consumer and the organization it engages with. 
However, he points out that a company’s “why” is not clear at all times. While an organization may start with a “why,” at different junctures, it may lack clarity and stray from this original concept. But, this points out an important differentiator between regular organizations and great ones - the latter keeps its “why” with the passing years and remain true to it.
ASA recently collaborated with GROW Therapy, based in Naperville, IL, for a group discussion and session centered around this same concept. In the third year of this important partnership, the members of both organizations delved into this concept of “why” and its importance, perhaps now more than ever in such a dynamic world.
Members of ASA spent a morning discussing this and other concepts of balance, mindfulness, and purpose in both the work place and in our personal lives. We reiterated our “why” as a progressive law firm, revisiting these core concepts and creating the clarity that Sinek described as ever-important to a great business. Purpose is transformative. As he states in his book:
“Working hard for something we do not care about is called stress, working hard for something we love is called passion.” 

Introducing Our Newest Team Member: Monica Kiehl
Author: Karla Rodriguez

ASA is so glad to introduce you to the newest addition to the team - Attorney Monica Kiehl! Monica has been practicing in the area of workers’ compensation defense for most of her career and brings a wealth of workers’ compensation experience to ASA. Monica vigorously defends clients to ensure cost-effective claim resolution in an expeditious manner.

She has tried numerous cases before the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Commission and has handled appeals at the Circuit Court and Appellate levels throughout the state. 

Monica began her career at a municipal law firm where she defended workers’ compensation claims for municipalities before moving on to the Illinois Attorney General’s office. Afterwards, Monica continued to defend workers’ compensation claims in the State of Illinois for private entities. 

We are so happy to have Monica as part of the team. I asked Monica what words best describe her and she answered with: hard working, friendly, curious, and humorous. Great qualities as a teammate! In the time Monica has been part of the team, she has already made it clear she is an invaluable resource for the firm and has already hit the ground running by expeditiously resolving cases. 

When Monica is not advising her clients, she likes to spend time with her husband and her four lovely daughters. Monica received her Bachelor of Arts Degree in Political Science from Elmhurst College and her J.D. from John Marshall Law School.

Welcome to the team, Monica! 

Stay Connected and Updated with ASA Law Group
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Please see our website, asalawgroup.net, for past newsletters and press releases. Also, if you would like for us to present on any WC topic for your team, please feel free to reach out to President and Owner, Shuaib Ahmed, directly at sahmed@asalawgroup.net.