Spring Valley, IL (815)664-2358

LaSalle, IL (815)223-6600

Unauthorized Practice of Law

As a practicing lawyer in Bureau County for 39 years, the unauthorized practice of law can, not often, but occasionally, become an issue. Practicing law in transactional real estate, the most common unauthorized practice of law complaint I have encountered is real estate document preparation by non-lawyers. Usually this matter comes up in reviewing work from other states, in jurisdictions where title companies are commonly allowed more leeway.


To legally practice law in Illinois you must be licensed and subject to the Attorneys Registration & Disciplinary Commission, established by the Illinois Supreme Court. The ARDC was established in February of 1973. The training and license requirements for attorneys are in place to protect the public. The license to practice law allows one to appear in court, but also includes counseling, advising and rendering of legal service outside of the courtroom.
*Bar related* title insurance means that the title insurance is issued by a licensed attorney on behalf of a licensed title company. Transactional lawyers often spend little time in court, instead using their knowledge and legal skill to, for example, prepare documents for real estate closings. Other skills may include writing title insurance commitments, and closing loans for lenders. These title commitments are used in preparation of closing on real estate loans, and sales of homes and other real property. After closing, this leads to issuance of owner*s and mortgage policies of title insurance, to protect the new owner and lender.
Rarely, an individual may also choose to proceed without an attorney. If an unrepresented party buys or prepares their own legal forms, they are (often unknowingly), accepting the attendant risk. There are companies that market such forms for an individual to use. However, the public using such a form without an attorney*s expertise, rarely understands the effect of such documents. I have seen examples of a Bank in the past attempting to give legal advice, and even preparing legal documents. Those behaviors often led to bad results, However, liability and the law have for the most part stopped that practice many years ago.
Legal assistants and paralegals may work under the direction of an attorney, but may not give advice or work on preparing documents their own. They may not give unauthorized legal advice or service while solely in the employ of a title company, in Illinois. When a person, even a title company offers to prepare documents for a real estate closing, in Illinois, that may be the unauthorized practice of law. If an unauthorized non-lawyer offers advice as to how to use such a form, or produces a form for use, that may be considered the unauthorized practice of law.
Lawyers have prepared for years in law school, studied and passed the bar exam and are scrutinized by the ARDC for your protection. Most lawyers carry malpractice insurance for the protection of the public. While complaints about lawyers can be filed with the ARDC, that is not the case for non-lawyers offering legal advice.
It has been my experience that lawyers commonly engaged in the real estate practice of law follow procedure carefully and follow the law.

Posted on November 23, 2018 at 9:10 pm


Getting to Closing in Real Estate

Attorney Richard C. Fiocchi

Bernabei, Balestri & Fiocchi Attorneys at Law



Are you considering buying or selling property in LaSalle, Bureau Putnam or Marshall County, or the greater Illinois Valley? Do you want the purchase to be completed efficiently, properly and in good order?


As licensed attorneys, lawyers represent clients as they buy and sell farm acreage, restaurants, family businesses, professional business real estate, corporate real estate, tavern real estate and even parking, almost anything!  Most of the time, clients are local folks who are buying and selling a home.


Practically speaking, you also may know that when you sign a real estate offer, and it is accepted, it is a legally binding contract.


The one common element in each of these transactions is the need for title insurance. Title insurance provides protection for lenders and our clients when liens crop up. These can be claims of others, judgments, unpaid taxes and defects in title. The title commitment provides your attorney with a tool to properly represent the client interest at closing. There are many reputable title insurance companies that can be utilized. Many law firms represent more than one company.


It is very common to uses a “bar-related” title company in the Illinois. The term “Bar-Related” means that these title agents, or “members,” are lawyers who issue title insurance policies as part of their law practices. As real estate attorneys, we work closely with all local brokers and lenders to “get to closing”.


A real estate sale or purchase is often the most expensive transaction of a client’s life. If you as a purchaser have your lawyer representing you in a real estate transaction, you will be certain that he, or she will review the title insurance commitment carefully, as well as the other closing documents prepared by the seller’s attorney.


The list of closing documents used in a modern transaction is long, complicated and best reviewed by the qualified legal counsel of your choice. Therefore, it is wise to choose an experienced real estate attorney to handle your purchase, and the real estate closing is especially important.


A good tip is to ask your local lender or real estate agent for suggestions as to a quality, experienced attorney. They will know who is hardworking, prompt and pleasant to deal with! These professionals might then give their suggestions to get to the closing efficiently. Lawyers that use a bar-related title insurance company often close promptly in their local office, or local lending institution.  Getting to closing is an important consideration when making you choice.


Posted on March 9, 2017 at 11:05 am


Bernabei, Balestri & Fiocchi Law Offices

Representing Farmers and Farm Estates Since 1953






On behalf of the family, Attorney Richard C. Fiocchi will offer the Everett Carver Farm on Wednesday, February 1, 2017 at 11:00 a.m. for sale at a public sealed bid auction the sale of 160.00 (more or less) acres of farmland, (approximately 113.5 tillable acres, 46.5 pond, pasture and timber) LaMoille Township in Bureau County, Illinois, as follows:


The Northwest Quarter (NW ¼) of Section 34, Township 18 North, Range 10 East of the Fourth Principal Meridian in the Township of LaMoille, Bureau County, Illinois.


P.I.N.: 05-34-100-001


A sale of farmland sales package containing:


A copy of the Attorneys’ Title Guaranty Fund, Inc. Commitment for Title Insurance, soil maps, the 2015 Real Estate Tax Bill, the terms of the farm tenancy, and the sales contract are available for inspection by appointment at the law office of BERNABEI, BALESTRI & FIOCCHI, 201 East Saint Paul Street, Spring Valley, IL 61362. Phone: (815) 664-2358




The date of sale is February 1, 2017 at 11:00 a.m. at the law office of BERNABEI, BALESTRI & FIOCCHI, 201 East Saint Paul Street, Spring Valley, IL 61362.

Posted on January 20, 2017 at 3:21 pm