2018-19 Program

Meet Our 2018-19 Participants

The 2018-19 class of SSPI participants started in February 2018.  Five participants were selected through an application process that required detailed business plans.

Odell Mitchell III John Fox
Jeff Martensen Mellisa Grisel 
Nicholas Bartzen   

2018-19 Participants


Cryptocurrencies and Blockchain

August 28, 2018

Nelson Rosario ('14), principal at Smolinski Rosario Law P.C., and Debbie Ginsberg, Chicago-Kent’s educational technology librarian, shared their knowledge and expertise in the emerging area of cryptocurrencies and blockchain. The discussion focused on the fundamentals of these new technologies and their importance in modern law practice.

Nelson Rosario ('14) answers questions on blockchain.
Nelson Rosario ('14) answers questions about blockchain technology in modern legal practice.
Debbie Ginsberg
Debbie Ginsberg  explains how blockchains are capable of creating "smart contracts."

Brainstorming Session

Brainstorm Session

On July 31, 2018, SSPI participants gathered together for a “brainstorm/sharing information” session on all things related to small firm practice.  They shared what’s working, what’s not, and bounced off ideas on everything from marketing strategies and networking groups to practice management tools.  In addition, each participant provided a 30 second succinct self-introduction (or “elevator pitch”) to their fellow colleagues.


A Risk-Based Approach to the Practice of Law

Courtney Fong ('07)
Courtney Fong ('07) uses a water bottle and cup to explain best practices to a risk-based approach to practicing law.

On June 21, 2018, Courtney Fong (’07), Chief Legal Officer & Chief Privacy Officer at Comp TIAprovided SSPI participants with practical considerations that frame a risk-based approach to the practice of law. Topics included time management, client engagement, subject matter expertise, and professional development.


Accounting & Tax Basics for Lawyers

Andrew Gordon ('12) discusses accounting and tax basics to participants.
Andrew Gordon ('12) provides accounting and tax strategies to participants.

On May 14, 2018, SSPI participants brushed up on their accounting skills and learned how to effectively plan for the business and tax consequences of opening a practice.  Andrew B. Gordon ('12), an attorney and C.P.A. from the Gordon Law Group and GLG Accounting, provided participants with helpful tips in choosing the best type of entity and tax classification for a new business.  He also discussed bookkeeping strategies, including tips on recording income and expenses, reconciling transactions, choosing a bookkeeping cloud-based platform.  Lastly, Mr. Gordon discussed the importance of filing your business tax returns and setting aside funds to pay your business taxes.


Law Practice Management

Judge Hartigan discusses managing costs and increasing profitability.
Judge Hartigan discusses managing firm costs with participants.

On April 19, 2018, the Honorable Judge Russell W. Hartigan, partner at Goldstine, Skrodzki, Russian, Nemec and Hoff, Ltd., and president of the Illinois State Bar Association, shared strategies in law practice management, including operational essentials, managing costs, profitability, managing risk, marketing, and ethical considerations. 


Tech on the Ground Floor

Debbie Ginsberg shares tech essentials for the solo practitioner.
Debbie Ginsberg shares tech essentials for the solo practitioner.

On March 13, 2018, Debbie Ginsberg, Chicago-Kent's technology librarian, provided SSPI participants with her top five tech essentials for solo practitioners. Participants learned about various hardware, software, on-the-go technology, and management tools to help lawyers increase productivity and efficiency for their firms. 


Full Day Training Boot Camp

On February 23, 2018, SSPI participants attended an all-day boot camp that provided essential information on getting a successful law practice up and running.  Dean and Professor of Law, Harold J. Krent, welcomed the new lawyers to the program and Dawn Youngdirector of Institutional Projects, moderated the training, which included presentations from seasoned IIT Chicago-Kent alumni and business professionals in the community.

  • How to Ethically Start a Practice: ARDC Procedures and IOLTA Accounts - Presenter: Melissa Smart, Litigation Group Manager and Senior Counsel, Attorney Registration and Disciplinary Commission (ARDC) of the Supreme Court of Illinois
  • How to Obtain and Retain Clients -  Presenter: Robert C. Milla (’06), Attorney, Milla & Associates, LLC
  • Entity Formation; Developing Niche Practices - Presenter: Patrick Wartan (’10), Attorney, Chair of the Food and Beverage Group, Taft Stettinius & Hollister LLP
  • Marketing and Business Development - Presenter: Nancy Roberts Linder, Director of Marketing, Chapman and Cutler, LLP
  • Overview of Legal Professional Liability Insurance—Basic Guidelines and Anatomy of Policies Malpractice Insurance - Presenters: Andrew Murray, Director of Sales; Janet Rapp, Managing Director of Underwriting, ISBA Mutual
  • Creating Organic Growth in a Successful Practice – Presenter: Heather F. Harper, Clinical Associate Professor of Law, IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law
  • You’ve Got the Client, Now What? A discussion on billing, retainers, initial client contact, and a representation plan – Presenter: Michael O’Connell (‘79), Attorney, Law Office of Michael S. O'Connell
  • Welcome & Introduction to Amata Law Office Suites - Presenter: Ron Bockstahler, Co-Founder and CEO, Amata Holdings, LLC
Professor Heather Harper
Professor Heather Harper discusses creating "organic growth" in a law practice.
Robert Milla
Robert Milla ('06) provides strategies in obtaining and retaining clients.
Michael O'Connell
Michael O'Connell ('79) provides a primer on engagement agreements and retainers.
Patrick Wartan
Patrick Wartan ('10) discusses the value in creating niche practices.
Melissa Smart
Melissa Smart from the Illinois ARDC provides helpful information in creating an ethical practice.
Ron Bochstahler
Ron Bockstahler, CEO of Amata, welcomes SSPI participants to the program.

Lawyer to Lawyer Mentoring

On February 14, 2018, SSPI participants and their mentors attended a mentoring orientation session presented by Dawn Young, director of Institutional Projects.  The orientation provided an overview of the mentoring component of the program, including its purpose and goals.  Mentoring pairs then participated in break-out sessions to develop and create structured mentoring plans to customize and chart the progress of their learning experience.  Lance Northcutt, Commissioner from the Illinois Supreme Court Commission on Professionalism, welcomed the attendees and provided some words of encouragement and support.  

SSPI Participants and Mentors:

Odell Mitchell with his mentor Heather Blaise
Entertainment lawyers - Odell Mitchell (left) with his mentor Heather L. Blaise (right).
Nick Bartzen with his mentor Scott Weisman.
Lawyers leveraging technology - Nick Bartzen (left) with his mentor Scott Weisman (right).