The Trusted Adviser
December 2011 | Volume 4 • Number 9


Update from ATG Administration

CEO Year-End Report


by Peter J. Birnbaum, ATG President and CEO We are just concluding our 47th year in business. It has been my pleasure to have been here for more than 30 of those years — 20 as your CEO. My longevity at ATG is not unique: 33 people have been at ATG for 20 or more years. That's 22% of the staff. It is noteworthy that in 2012, 9 employees will celebrate their 25th or 30th year anniversaries. More than 50% of the members of our hard-working, dedicated Board of Directors have also been here 20+ years, as have a high percentage of our members.

For many of us on the staff, the board, and the membership, ATG has a close-knit, fraternal atmosphere. And if you've been here a long time it has been quite a ride. By way of example, when I started at ATG in 1981 our annual revenue was less than $2 million a year. It climbed to nearly $10 million in 1990 and topped $25 million in 2000. In 2011, we will generate more than $30 million in revenue from a wide variety of sources. More importantly, ATG generates nearly $100 million in annual revenue to our law firm members. By making real estate and trust services revenue producing and cost effective for law firms, we are able to fulfill our mission to give consumers access to legal counsel in the most important financial transactions of their lives.

I am proud to say that for 19 of the 20 years I have been the President of ATG, we have been profitable. During the same time, we have also expanded our offices from 3 to 14. And our subsidiaries from zero to 6.

When ATG was founded, the goal was for the company to operate more or less like an association or a cooperative. Our owners are also our customers. It is this unique structure that has had the most positive impact on our business.

Despite the most difficult real estate market possibly ever, we are flourishing.


Financial Strength. While making money has never been our primary mission, it is critical that ATG increase its total assets as well as reserves for claims. This has enabled us to achieve financial stability ratings that are unsurpassed by any other regional title underwriter.

Our financial success also gives us the ability to deliver on our mission to be the premier lawyer service organization in the U.S. Our support, technology and continuing education services are unmatched.

Diversification. Much of our financial success has been grounded in our decision to diversify our products and services over the years from a single product solely dependent upon the real estate market to counter cyclical businesses like The Judicial Sales Corporation or cyclically neutral businesses like ATG Trust Company.


We still have many challenges ahead:

Members are struggling financially. With the downturn in the market many of you have taken significant hits to your income. ATG is focused on what we can do to enhance your practices to improve your bottom line. In that regard our newest subsidiary, Auctions by ATG should deliver improved velocity and volume of the backlog or foreclosed homes. This new venture in cooperation with our new short sale division will give lawyers the ability to compete in the new housing market where distressed sales are increasingly common.

Marketplace issues are many. We continue to struggle with the proliferation of realtor-controlled businesses, some of whom form captive title companies and insist that lawyers use that captive company as a condition of client referrals. In addition, the unauthorized practice of law has never been more pervasive. Predators are taking advantage of distressed homeowners on a widespread basis. ATG is at the forefront of battling these unauthorized practitioners. I am pleased to report that the Illinois Supreme Court recently adopted a rule to give the ARDC jurisdiction over unauthorized practitioners. This will be a powerful tool for us to combat these practices. As you may know, John O'Brien and I have been very active on this issue over the years.

It's the economy and housing. The overall economic situation has had a continuing negative effect on housing market and home prices. At the same time, the future of government-sponsored enterprises such as Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac continue to be debated. State and Federal regulation has never been more far-reaching; cyber and other threats continue to pose harm to practicing lawyers and their clients.


In response to these issues, ATG continues to be a visible and respected advocate for the legal profession. Our advocacy efforts include our active participation with the American Land Title Association, the Illinois Land Title Association, and the UPL committees of the Illinois State Bar Association and the Chicago Bar Association. We are active before the Supreme Court Committee on Mortgage Foreclosures, the Illinois legislature, and the regulatory agencies. Our staff works to develop new technologies to enhance your practices as well as expand our product mix: ATG Short Sales, ATG Trust Company, The Judicial Sales Corporation, ATG LegalServe, ATG Legal Ed, NLT Title and the newest addition to the ATG family of companies — Auctions by ATG — give you opportunities to enhance your practices.

There will always be challenges, but the opportunities are incredible. We will continue to be on the forefront of delivering competitive tools to our members. We will fight in the courts, the legislature, and the media to give consumers access to top quality legal services.

It is our great pleasure and honor to be of service to our membership. We wish you a Happy and Healthy Holiday Season!




THE TRUSTED ADVISER is published by Attorneys’ Title Guaranty Fund, Inc., P.O. Box 9136, Champaign, IL 61826-9136. Inquiries may be made directly to Mary Beth McCarthy, Corporate Communications Manager. ATG®, ATG® plus logo, are marks of Attorneys’ Title Guaranty Fund, Inc. and are registered in the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. The contents of the The Trusted Adviser © Attorneys' Title Guaranty Fund, Inc.

[Last update: 12-22-11]