Contact Information

Solo & Small Practice Incubator

Dawn Young
565 W. Adams St., Room 330
Chicago, IL 60661
P: (312) 906-5003
F: (312) 906-5335

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2013-14 Program

Meet Our 2013-14 Participants

The 2013-14 class of SSPI participants started in November 2013.  Seven participants were selected through an application process that required detailed business plans.

Stephen Klang Denise I. Martinez  Duka Baatarchuluuun
Katharine J. Wardein Michael J. Wood Candace D. Hansford
Matthew B. Rudolph

SSPI Class of 2013 - Stephen Klang, Katharine J. Wardein, Denise I. Martinez, Michael J. Wood, Duka Baatarchuluuun (not pictured), Candace D. Hansford (not pictured), and Matthew B. Rudolph (not pictured).


Past Events

Jumpstarting Your Business Development Drive

September 24, 2014

Alycia Sutor discusses business development strategies.On September 24, 2014, SSPI participants attended an interactive training led by Alycia Sutor, partner at Akina - a consulting firm that helps lawyers rethink how they approach business development challenges. Ms. Sutor discussed best practices, strategies, and techniques specifically tailored for the solo or small firm practitioner. Breakout sessions and worksheets provided participants with thought-provoking questions that helped them re-evaluate their marketing strategies, understand and leverage their strengths, and build confidence in developing business.



Effective Strategies on Negotiation and Settlement

"Unbundling" and Limited Scope Representation

Patricia A. Wrona, Director of Legal Services at CARPLS Legal Aid, provided an informative workshop on limited scope or discrete task legal representation ("unbundling").  The training involved a review of the ethical history of limiting the scope of legal representation in Illinois, key legal references from the Illinois Rules of Professional Conduct and the Supreme Court Rules, and court forms specified in Supreme Court Rule 13.  Participants discussed hypotheticals, engaged in interactive discussion, and were provided with helpful resources, such as a list of court rules, forms, and literature on bundling and limited scope representation.

Real Estate Transactions and Landlord/Tenant Basics

May 12, 2014

In this substantive law training, Kathleen M. Robson ('10) from Robson & Lopez, LLC, walked participants through the anatomy of a residential real estate closing in Illinois from both the purchaser and seller perspectives. Participants went through key provisions in the Chicago Association of Realtors Condominium Real Estate Purchase and Sale Contract and disclosure reports, and reviewed a sample title commitment, settlement statement (HUD-1), loan package, and closing documents. In addition, participants learned the basics in landlord tenant disputes, including forcible entry and detainer and the eviction process in Illinois.

Kathleen Robson ('10) with participantsKathleen Robson ('10)












Breakfast Panel with SSPI Alumni: Starting a Solo Practice in a Law School Incubator

Breakfast Panel with SSPI AlumniMarch 5, 2014

SSPI participants attended a breakfast panel with our 2012-13 SSPI alumni. Past participants, Michelle Green, Jaz Park, and Rebecca Graham spoke to the new attorneys about their experiences in the program. What are the best practices of networking to build your client base? How can you best access incubator resources and create meaningful learning opportunities with matched mentors? How do you speak to your clients and present yourself in the best light? These were just some of the topics covered during the informative panel discussion.




Learn the Ins and Outs of Real Estate Transactions

January 2013 - March 2014

Attorneys' Title Guaranty Fund Inc. (ATG) provided our participants with an opportunity to learn the ins and outs of real estate transactions by allowing them to attend and observe an actual closing with the purchaser, 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 observed 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.

Website Setup 101: Strategies, Terms, and Tools

February 19, 2014
Emily Barney with participantsSSPI participants attended a workshop focused on the basics of creating their own firm website. IIT Chicago-Kent's Technology Development and Training Librarian, Emily Barney, and Webmaster/Front End Developer, Michael Miller, provided attendees with strategies on website content, including core information, marketable keywords, and simple navigation. Design goals, such as establishing credibility, following best practices for accessibility, and avoiding copyright violations and brand dilution were discussed. In addition, presenters discussed information on hosting, domain names, and SEO, and provided tips on layout and design.


How to Become Practice Ready as a Solo or Small Firm Attorney

February 6, 2014

On February 6, 2014, members of the ABA General Practice, Solo & Small Firm division presented an informational career program at IIT Chicago-Kent addressing issues of starting a solo practice and working within a small firm setting.  A panel of experienced practitioners stressed the importance of building and growing your networks, making use of your mentors, and guarding your professional reputation.  Panel speakers included Chelsey Lambert (Chicago Bar Association), Anne I. Shaw (Shaw Legal Services, Ltd.), The Honorable Alexander P. White, Jr. (Tax & Miscellaneous Remedies Section, Circuit Court of Cook County), and Aurora Abella-Austriaco (Clark Hill), with James M. Durant III (US Department of Energy - Office of Science) moderating.  Ms. Shaw and Judge White are IIT Chicago-Kent alumni.

Circuit Court of Cook County Judges Panel Presentation and Walk Through

January 22, 2014

Participants from SSPI and the Chicago Bar Foundation's Justice Entrepreneurs Project attended a judges panel presentation and tour of the Circuit Court of Cook County in the Daley Center on January 22, 2014. The panel included Judge Thomas More Donnelly (Municipal), Judge Mary Ellen Coghlan (Probate), Judge Celia G. Gamrath (Domestic Relations), and Judge Leonard Murray (Municipal).  Attendees were given valuable tips and advice from the judges, covering a wide range of topics, including (1) tips on filling out orders in their respective courtrooms/divisions; (2) the do's and don'ts in the courtroom; (3) the roles clerks play in the courtroom; (4) the importance of Standing Orders; (5) what to do when you don't know the answer to a judge's question; (4) the breakdown of the divisions; (6) practical tips on motion practice; and

(7) advice on preparing for trial.

After the panel discussion, attendees were given a tour of the Sheriff's Office, with a presentation by the Sheriff's Department.  Topics included the basics of service of process, documents required for proper service of process, what to do if the defendant lives outside Cook County, fee schedules, determining when an individual has been served, alias summons, and obtaining a Cook County Photo ID.

The last session involved a tour of the Clerk of the Circuit Court, with information on where and how to file court documents, and how to spindle a motion in each filing office.

Training Workshop

December 3, 2013

On December 3, 2013, SSPI participants attended an all-day training workshop focused on the fundamentals in starting a solo or small firm practice.  The workshop was moderated by Dawn Young, Director of Institutional Projects, and opened with words of encouragement from Heather Harper, Clinical Assistant Professor and Supervising Attorney for the Entrepreneurial Law Clinic.  Trainings for the all-day workshop included the following topics, and were given by seasoned IIT Chicago-Kent alumni and legal professionals in the community. 

  • IOLTA Accounts Made Simple, Retainer Agreements ... and Other Information You Need to Ethically Start a Practice
    Featuring: Myrrha B. Guzman, Senior Intake Counsel for the Administrator, Attorney Registration and Disciplinary Commission (ARDC) of the Supreme Court of Illinois
  • Everything You Need to Know About Client Communications (from client screening and client interviews to dealing with challenging and difficult clients
    Featuring: Ronald A. Stearney, Jr. ('98), Law Offices of Ronald A. Stearney
  • A Word about Ethics and Professionalism and Law Office Management
    Featuring: Barbara A. Susman ('83), Susman & Associates, P.C.
  • You've Got the Client....Now What?
    Featuring: Michael S. O'Connell ('79), Law Office of Michael S. O'Connell
  • Marketing and Business Development Tips for the Solo and Small Firm Practitioner
    Featuring: Patrick Wartan ('10) and Alexander Pappas ('09), Axia Law, LLC
SSPI Participants with Myrrha B. Guzman (second from the left) Alexander Pappas ('09)
Michael S. O'Connell ('79)

Ronald A. Stearney, Jr. ('98)

Barbara Susman ('83) Patrick Wartan ('10)

Orientation Day and Lawyer-to-Lawyer Mentoring

November 21, 2013

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 SSPI participant has been matched with an alumni-mentor, and both the participant and mentor will receive a total of six hours of professional responsibility CLE credit upon satisfying program requirements.

On November 21, 2013, both newly admitted attorneys and their attorney mentors attended an orientation session designed to provide mentors and new lawyers with an overview of the Lawyer-to-Lawyer Mentoring Program, including its purpose and goals. Attendees then participated in pair activities to develop and create structured mentoring plans consisting of actions items under five mentoring categories—Professionalism, Legal Ethics, Civility, Diversity and Inclusion, and Wellness, Mental Health and Addiction. The orientation was moderated and conducted by Dawn Young, director of Institutional Projects, and included words of encouragement from IIT Chicago-Kent Professor Ronald Staudt and Katherine A. Erwin from the Illinois Supreme Court Commission on Professionalism. The day concluded with an overview of administrative and building procedures by Ariana Monroe and Sue Jadin from the Office of Administration and Finance, and the distribution of keys to the participants’ new offices housed on the sixth floor of the law school.

Alumni-mentor, Michael J. Goldberg from Whiteside & Goldberg, LTD., with SSPI participant Stephen Klang SSPI participant, Denise I. Martinez, with her alumni-mentor Michael S. O’Connell from the Law Office of Michael S. O'Connell
SSPI participants, Katharine J. Wardein and Michael J. Wood SSPI participant, Duka Baatarchuluun, with her clinical faculty-mentor, Heather Harper from the Law Offices at Chicago-Kent