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Overview of the Illinois Court System

The courts in Illinois may seem confusing or overwhelming to first-time users of the system, but it is easy to understand after a little bit of study. It consists of a three-tiered judiciary: the Supreme Court, the Appellate Court and the circuit courts.

The circuit courts have original jurisdiction over all cases. There are 23 judicial circuits in Illinois, each of which comprises one or more counties. With 517 circuit judges and 389 associate judges, the circuit courts are the most common courts in the state. Cases handled by these courts include all civil cases, small claims, most criminal cases, all domestic relations cases, traffic infractions and juvenile cases.

One tier above the circuit courts is the Appellate Court. It handles appeals of decisions made by all the circuit courts and either decides in favor of the original decision or reverses the decision. The highest tier is the Supreme Court, which deals with court administrative issues such as bar admission and discipline, judicial oversight and legislative redistricting. It also handles appeals from the Appellate Court.

Illinois Attorneys and Lawyers

When faced with a legal issue, contacting an experienced attorney is always the best bet. At LawInfo you can search for a skilled, Lead Counsel Rated Illinois attorney by location and by practice area. We have Illinois attorneys who dedicate their practice to specific areas of the law, so you will not only find an attorney, but an attorney who is knowledgeable to help you with your particular legal issue.

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Illinois Legal Forms

LawInfo offers free Illinois legal forms and documents to help resolve many of your issues on your own. Whether you need a power of attorney or you want to complete your will, we have you covered. You can click on our most popular forms located in the right column of this page. A user account is required to use the service, but it’s completely free.

For property owners in Illinois, renting can be an excellent way to recoup your investment and take advantage of a guaranteed income stream. However, in order to protect your assets and finances, you need to make sure that your landlord/tenant agreement is airtight. At LawInfo, you can find free Residential Lease Agreement for your Illinois rental agreement to keep you free from legal risk and liability.

You can also find Illinois Last Will and Testament forms on LawInfo. A Last Will and Testament allows you to decide on the passage of your estate to your family members and choose who gets what and how much. Without a last will, you will die "intestate," and your personal assets and possessions will be divided by a probate court among your heirs. A last will gives you the option of passing particular heirlooms or belongings to different family members.

You may also want to fill out Power of Attorney documents to decide who has power over your legal, financial and health matters if you become incapacitated. LawInfo has free Power of Attorney templates for you to fill out and file. Accidents can happen at any time, and it is always a good idea to make sure that your loved ones have the authority to make the decisions you would want them to make if you are unable to do so for yourself.

Starting an Illinois Business

A business venture in Illinois requires planning, forethought and plenty of paperwork. It represents an exciting new chapter in your life, but you want to make sure that you do it properly, by the book and with all necessary licenses and tax applications.

The first step to becoming an Illinois business owner is to visit the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity website to get a sense for your target market and opportunities in Illinois. You will need to devise a business plan, and through the DCEO, you can get assistance in doing so.

Once you have a solid plan, the next step is to choose the type of company you want to start. If you are just working for yourself, you may opt for a sole partnership, but if you plan on expanding your business ownership, it may make more sense to apply to become a corporation or limited liability entity of some sort.

You will then need to file the appropriate registration form for your type of company as well as any applicable licenses if you are providing licensed professional services. Revenue and sales tax applications must also be filed so that your business is in the system. If you plan on employing anyone, payroll taxes must be implemented for the state and county in which you live.

Illinois Business Statistics

According to BLS statistics, unemployment in Illinois hovered around 9.2 percent in 2013. The Office of Small Business Advocacy reported a private sector workforce of 4.8 million in 2011, 48 percent of whom worked with small businesses. There were nearly 250,000 small businesses in the state, accounting for 98.3 percent of all employers. 78.1 percent of all businesses are sole proprietorships with no employees. On the other hand, Illinois is also home to plenty of large companies, with 4,363 large employers registered with the state. Nearly 30 major Fortune 500 companies are headquartered in the the state, including Archer Daniels Midland (ADM), Boeing ( BA) and Walgreen Co (WAG).