Meet Our 2019-20 Participants
The 2019-20 class of SSPI participants started in February 2019. Fifteen participants were selected through an application process that required detailed business plans.
|Ravi Anand||Henderson Banks|
|Aidan Butler||Michael Cosgrove|
|Jason Garcia||Carolina Garza-Gongora|
|Michael Johnson||Kate Levine|
|Randall Manoyan||Daniel Sanders|
|Sharon Shi||Robert Windon|
|Mark Wolff||Omar Younis|
October 29, 2019
On October 29, 2019, Coleman Foundation Clinical Associate Professor of Entrepreneurship at IIT Stuart School of Business, Nik Rokop, provided SSPI participants with sales strategies to drive their firms' bottom-line growth. Participants learned the importance of knowing their customer base, developing niche markets, and honing their value propositions. The workshop ended with participants sharing what’s working and what’s not in their practices, as well as a "brainstorm" on various marketing strategies.
September 19, 2019
On September 19, 2019, Jordan Powell ('07), partner at Passen & Powell, led a discussion on effective negotiation strategies for lawyers. SSPI participants learned how to create a systematic framework for handling disputes through the negotiation process. They also learned how to approach negotiations with a strategic and tactical mindset to communicate persuasively with the other side and achieve the very best outcomes for their clients.
Accounting & Tax Basics for Lawyers
August 6, 2019
Sound financial administration is one of the most critical components of a successful law practice. This is especially true for lawyers who run their own firms. On August 6, 2019, Andrew Gordon (’12), an attorney and CPA from the Gordon Law Group, provided participants with helpful tips on 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, and choosing an effective bookkeeping cloud-based platform. Lastly, Mr. Gordon discussed the importance of establishing a timeline of duties (periodically, quarterly, annually) when preparing your business tax returns.
Creating Symbiotic Relationships with Large Firms
July 18, 2019
How can I best position my practice to generate business from larger firms? Brent Ray, partner at King & Spalding, provided participants with strategies in creating symbiotic relationships with larger firms to generate opportunities.
SSPI Coffee Social
July 11, 2019
Heather L. Blaise, founding partner at Blaise & Nitschke, P.C., hosted a coffee social for SSPI. Current and past incubator participants mingled over coffee and pastries, and had a wonderful time of networking with colleagues and friends.
Solo/Small Firm Administration: Tricks & Trappings
June 26, 2019
The profitability of a solo/small firm is a product of a number of variables, including obtaining billable work. However, a large factor in a firm's overall profitability depends on how efficiently attorneys can handle the day-to-day operations and administrative tasks that consume their time. Nick Bartzen, founder of Altus Legal, walked SSPI participants through a “suite” of software solutions that are now available to solo and small firm lawyers. In this workshop, he provided them with tricks to keep their admin burden low, so that they can spend more time on marketing, networking, and actually doing the work to help solve their clients’ legal problems.
Real Estate Transactions Basics
May 15, 2019
Kathleen Robson, founding partner of Robson & Lopez LLC, provided a substantive workshop on how to competently represent a client in residential real estate transactions. SSPI participants learned about current procedural guidelines and the tools necessary to handle purchase and sale transactions from contract to closing, including tips on negotiating the contract, conducting a title search, and preparing for the closing.
Best Practices to Increase the Success of Your Marketing/Business Development Activities
April 17, 2019
Nancy Linder, Director of Marketing at Chapman & Cutler LLP, led an interactive workshop on strategies, processes, and techniques to build and grow a law practice on April 17, 2019. Ms. Linder discussed how successful law firms market legal services, the importance of marketplace identity (your brand), and creating client communication and service standards that focus on client needs and expectations. Participants had the opportunity to give their law firm “pitch” (lawyer introduction or elevator speech) with practical feedback.
Tech on the Ground Floor
March 21, 2019
On March 21, 2019, Chicago-Kent's technology librarian Debbie Ginsberg and Technology Training & Marketing Librarian Emily Barney provided SSPI participants with their 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. They also learned about online marketing tools as well as strategies on security best practices.
Lawyer to Lawyer Mentoring
February 28 and March 1, 2019
On February 28, 2019 and March 1, 2019, 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.
SSPI Participants and Mentors:
- Aidan Butler (participant) and Kathleen Robson (mentor)
- Daniel Sanders (participant) and Andrew Gordon (mentor)
- Omar Younis (participant) and Laurie Silvestri (mentor)
- Mark Wolff (participant) and Daniel Radakovich (mentor)
- Adam Farag (participant) and Heather Blaise (mentor)
- Carolina Garza-Gongora (participant) and Mariana Karampalas (mentor)
- Henderson Banks (participant) and Michael O'Connell (mentor)
- Michael Cosgrove (participant) and Jennifer Lavin (mentor)
- Robert Windon (participant) and Ernie Blomquist (mentor)
- Randall Manoyan (participant) and Jordan Powell (mentor)
- Kate Levine and Michael Johnson (participants) and Craig Tobin (mentor)
- Jason Garcia (participant) and Megan Lopp Mathias (mentor)
- Ravi Anand (participant) and Kathleen Robson (mentor)
- Sharon Shi (participant)
Full Day Training Boot Camp
February 22, 2019
On February 22, 2019, 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 Young, director of Institutional Projects, moderated the training, which included presentations from seasoned IIT Chicago-Kent alumni and business professionals in the community.
- You’ve Got the Client, Now What? A discussion on billing, retainers, initial client contact – Presenter: Michael O’Connell (‘79), Attorney, Law Office of Michael S. O'Connell
- Building Your Business Development Foundation - Presenter: Brie Leung, Principal Consultant, GrowthPlay
- Entity Formation; Developing Niche Practices - Presenters: Patrick Wartan (’10) and Alexander Pappas ('09), Attorneys, Food and Beverage Group, Taft Stettinius & Hollister LLP
- 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
- Malpractice Insurance - What are you Buying? What are Carriers Selling? - Presenters: Andrew Murray, Director of Sales; Janet Rapp, Managing Director of Underwriting, ISBA Mutual
- The Short List for Starting Your Firm - Presenter: Mellisa Grisel ('16), Attorney, Atlas Legal Services, LLC
- Solo Practice Management Tips (including other tips learned over 30 years in practice!) - Presenter: Laurie A. Silvestri ('86), Principal, Law Offices of Laurie A. Silvestri
- Welcome and Introduction to Amata Law Office Suites - Presenter: Ron Bockstahler, Co-Founder and CEO, Amata Holdings, LLC