Monica Pechous ’21 Wins the Illinois Local Government Lawyers Association’s 2020 Franklin W. Klein Law Student Writing Competition Award

Thursday, March 12, 2020

Monica Pechous, a second-year student at Chicago-Kent College of Law, accepted the Illinois Local Government Lawyers Association’s Franklin W. Klein Law Student Writing Competition Award on February 17, 2020, at the organization’s annual conference in Naperville, Illinois. The award is given annually to a law student who has submitted an article on a topic relevant to local government law.

Monica Pechous
Monica Pechous and Jim Rhodes of the Illinois Local Government Lawyers Association.

Pechous’s award-winning paper “Do Illinois Municipalities Have Their Heads in the ‘Cloud?’: Home Rule as Applied to Online Platforms” focuses on how emerging technology creates a challenge for Illinois municipalities operating under home rule.

As a young attorney, Pechous’s father—the late Roy C. Pechous—was elected as a delegate to draft the Illinois Constitution of 1970. The drafters of the new constitution created the framework for home rule in Illinois, giving communities greater power to enact legislation without having to go through the state legislature.

“It has been really important to me to learn what he did and to continue his legacy,” she says.

Pechous got the idea for her paper while taking a class with Professor Ann Lousin on the Illinois Constitution at the UIC John Marshall Law School through Chicago-Kent’s exchange program with other local law schools. Pechous and Lousin—who had befriended Pechous’s father while working as a research assistant for the Illinois Constitutional Convention—spoke about the conflicts between home rule under the Illinois Constitution and emerging technologies.

Until recently, Illinois courts have been reluctant to uphold municipal laws taxing or regulating online entities because cloud-based technology doesn’t exist within the physical boundaries of the community.

In her paper, Pechous argues that Illinois municipalities should be able tax and regulate cloud-based platforms—which allow users to access services, software, or data on remote servers—operating in their jurisdictions. “The future is uncertain as to upcoming technological developments,” she writes, “but to the extent possible, Illinois should prepare for its future by recognizing home rule power in regard to online platforms and streaming services.”

The article will published in a forthcoming issue of the Journal of the Illinois Local Government Lawyers Association.

This is the second writing award that Pechous has won this year. Her first was for “A Leash Too Tight: A Case for a ‘Pet-Integrative’ Society,” which won the American Kennel Club’s Companion Animal Law Writing Contest.