A Law License Does Not Establish Personal Jurisdiction

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Elham Sheikholeslam (“Sheikholeslam”), an Iranian citizen, sued attorney Antonin Favreau (“Favreau”), a Canadian citizen, in Cook County, Illinois for alleged fraud and malpractice in Favreau’s representation of her in an immigration matter.  Favreau moved to dismiss for lack of personal jurisdiction.  He explained that although he was licensed to practice in Illinois, he had no office in Illinois, had never practiced in Illinois, never had any contact with Sheikholeslam in Illinois, never performed any services for her in Illinois, and resided exclusively in Canada.  His only connection to Sheikholeslam was his affiliation with ACIC Management Co. Ltd. (“ACIC”), an immigration services company based in the British Virgin Islands that Sheikholeslam had retained, and on whose behalf Favreau had signed a client representation agreement with Sheikholeslam.

The trial court granted Favreau’s motion, agreeing that he did not possess “such connections to Illinois that he should reasonably anticipate being haled into court here and somehow purposely availed himself of the privilege of conducting activities in Illinois so that he invoked the benefits and protection of Illinois law.”  Id. at ¶14.  The First District affirmed, rejecting Sheikholeslam’s argument that the trial court had personal jurisdiction, either specific or general, simply because Favreau could only have rendered his services by virtue of having his Illinois license.  More precisely, the court lacked specific jurisdiction over Favreau because he “performed no relevant action or event in Illinois within the period relevant to plaintiff’s causes of action.”  Id. at ¶25.  As to general jurisdiction, the First District reached the same conclusion, reiterating that Favreau “resides in Canada and his only relevant connection to Illinois is his law license, having not been in Illinois since he sat for the bar examination in 2013.”  Id. at ¶24.

Sheikholeslam v. Favreau, 2019 IL App (1st) 181703

(This is for informational purposes and is not legal advice.)

 

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