Meet Our 2012-13 Participants
The Solo & Small Practice Incubator (SSPI) was launched in Fall 2012. Six participants were selected through an application process that required detailed business plans.
Learn the Ins and Outs of Real Estate Transactions
February - November 2013
Thanks to Peter Birnbaum '83, president and CEO of Attorneys' Title Guaranty Fund Inc. (ATG). ATG provided our SSPI participants with an opportunity to learn the ins and outs of real estate transactions by allowing them to attend an actual closing with the buyer, seller, attorneys, lender, realtor and closer present at the closing table.
Since closings occur at ATG on a daily basis, SSPI participants simply called their ATG contact and scheduled a day and time to observe a closing. Upon their arrival, participants were given 30 minutes of "prep-time" where they were debriefed on the transaction. At the closing table, participants had the opportunity to observe discussions between attorneys, the clients, the closer and other agents. In addition, they observed explanations on the HUD, closing documents and lender forms.
ATG was founded in 1964 and is the only bar-related title insurance company in Illinois that provides title insurance to homebuyers and lenders through a network of 4,000 lawyers who are ATG members.
Guerrilla Tactics: Setting and Collecting Fees
August 21, 2013
In this workshop, Jeffery M. Leving ('79) and Maureen Gorman ('86) from the Law Offices of Jeffery M. Leving, shared strategies on handling issues that may arise when setting and collecting fees from clients. SSPI participants were given tips on controlling fee collection through carefully drafted of retainer agreements and engagement letters, establishing the parameters of the attorney-client relationship, setting reasonable fees, and exploring alternative fee arrangements.
Second Training Workshop: Digital marketing and Online Tools
April 17, 2013
On April 17, 2013, SSPI participants attended a second training workshop focused on digital marketing and online tools. In this workshop, SSPI participants learned how to (1) develop a simple marketing plan and strategy, (2) use different digital marketing channels, and (3) execute their marketing strategy to grow their practice and reach clients.
IIT Stuart School of Business alumnus and founder of Thread Bit, Rishu Mandolia '11, along with Chicago-Kent alumna and Thread Bit co-founder, Meg Mandolia '11, provided participants with guidance in developing a concrete marketing plan and strategy, and explained website development, blogging, social media marketing (Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, etc.), and search engine optimization tools.
In addition, Chicago-Kent alumni and co-founders of Axia Law, Patrick Wartan '10 and Alexander Pappas '09, shared their personal stories on what worked and what didn't when they launched their own small firm. The workshop concluded with a discussion led by Mr. Wartan and Mr. Pappas on the ethical issues that can arise out of attorney Internet advertising and the significance of understanding the applicable Illinois Rules of Professional Conduct.
Private Business Development & Marketing Sessions with Susan Mendelsohn '89
January 9 and 16, 2013
On January 9 and 16, 2013, Susan Mendelsohn '89, founder and president of Mendelsohn Legal Inc., a legal recruiting firm in Chicago, provided one-on-one business development and marketing sessions with each SSPI participant. The purpose of the sessions was to give each participant advice and guidance on how to obtain and retain clients and to provide tips on relationship-building and rainmaking. Ms. Mendelsohn is a former law firm equity partner and co-chair of the firm's marketing committee. She is an active member of Chicago-Kent's Career Strategies Task Force. In addition to her legal recruiting activities, she advises clients on business development.
Orientation Day and Lawyer-to-Lawyer Mentoring
November 5, 2012
In collaboration with the Illinois Supreme Court Commission on Professionalism, Chicago-Kent is delivering a Lawyer-to-Lawyer Mentoring Program as part of its Solo & Small Practice Incubator. Mentoring strengthens the integrity, civility and professionalism of the legal community. One of the benefits of SSPI is the mentorship component. Providing our recent graduates with a support system of experienced lawyers is invaluable—especially during the critical transition from law student to practitioner. Each incubatee has been matched with an alumni or clinical faculty mentor, and both the incubatee and the mentor, upon satisfying the program requirements, will receive a total of six hours of professional responsibility CLE credit.
On November 5, 2012, both newly admitted attorneys and their attorney mentors attended an orientation on the Lawyer-to-Lawyer Mentoring Program and participated in pair activities to develop and create detailed mentoring plans that included action items to be completed during the one-year mentoring term. The orientation was moderated by Dawn Young, director of Institutional Projects. The day concluded with distribution of keys to the incubatees' new offices housed on the sixth floor of the law school and an overview of administrative and housekeeping items by Chicago-Kent staff.
First Training Workshop
October 24, 2012
On October 24, 2012, the incubatees attended SSPI's first training workshop, which consisted of introductions by Dawn Young, director of Institutional Projects, and a warm welcome from Dean Harold J. Krent. Andy Greene—an attorney who co-founded Business Law Network LLC, a network of business lawyers, and Johnston Greene LLC, a litigation and land-use firm in Chicago—led a discussion on law firm marketing and business development. James Reichardt ’77, a solo practitioner in Villa Park, Illinois, concentrating in civil matters, provided the incubatees with a lively presentation on IOLTA accounts, client trust accounts and billing practices.
The afternoon session consisted of a working lunch and a lecture titled "10 Things You Need to Know to Open Your Practice and Overcoming the Fear of Opening a Practice" by Janet Rubel ’78, a family law practitioner in Northbrook, Illinois. Michael S. O'Connell ’79, a Chicago solo practitioner in general and commercial litigation, provided the incubatees with a lecture titled "You've Got the Client...Now What?" The last presentation was given by Daniel P. Costello ’01, founder of Costello & Associates LLC, a construction and complex litigation firm in Chicago. Mr. Costello spoke to the incubatees on utilizing and embracing technology for their practices. All throughout the workshop, the speakers and incubatees engaged in lively and interactive discussion on a myriad of solo and small practice issues.