2021-22 Program

Meet Our 2021-22 Participants

The 2021-22 SSPI participants started in February 2021. Six participants were selected through an application process that required detailed business plans.

Julian Cagadas Justin Taylor
Yilun Hu Mike Theis
Louis Peters Arlo Walsman

10 Pillars of a Successful Small Firm

January 13, 2022

The question "how to grow a law firm" is a common one and it's not surprising.  Running a small law firm is hard, and growing it is even harder, especially in a pandemic.  For many small firms, there are a number of challenges - the costs of starting a law firm, the struggle in obtaining new clients, the competition with other firms, and the difficulty in finding the time to focus on the business side of running a practice. On January 13, attorney Steven Wallace (Ward Damon PL) shared his 10 pillars of a successful law firm with SSPI participants. 

Steven Wallace
                           Steven Wallace

The Ins and Outs of the Daley Center

November 4, 2021

In every walk of life, there are unwritten rules that must be learned through experience, observation or training. This is true when maneuvering trial practice and especially the Daley Center.  Much of what happens before, during, and after court is governed by rules that aren't necessarily in a CLE book.  On November 4, 2021, Michael S. O'Connell ('79), principal attorney at The Law Office of Michael S. O'Connell, shared valuable insight about these "unwritten rules" with SSPI attorneys.

Michael S. O'Connell ('79)
                        Michael S. O'Connell ('79)

Why Bar Associations Matter for Solos/Small Firms

September 29, 2021

New attorneys may wonder if it is worth joining a voluntary professional association or organization. Can these groups truly generate business for solo and small firm practitioners? Is there any real benefit from these groups other than information on practice trends and CLE? Some believe they offer little value pointing to a generation of lawyers who are questioning the value of "belonging" to a bar association.  On September 29, 2021, George Schoenbeck ('07), partner at Sosin, Arnold & Schoenbeck Ltd., spoke to SSPI attorneys about the tangible and intangible benefits of getting actively involved in these organizations.

George Schoenbeck ('07)
                        George Schoenbeck ('07)

Client Communications and Fees

June 24, 2021

According to Clio’s 2019 Legal Trends Report, clients are demanding a better understanding of the legal process and more price certainty with respect to the total cost of representation. In other words, clients want effective communication from their lawyers and more transparency in how much legal services will cost. On June 24, 2021, Professor Jonathan Decatorsmith shared insights on what lawyers can do to overcome this communication gap to build a more efficient, client-centered, and profitable solo practice. SSPI participants learned best practices for communicating with clients and strategies in creating more transparent billing practices.

Jonathan Decatorsmith
                Professor Jonathan Decatorsmith

Business Development for Solos & Small Firms

May 27, 2021

On May 27, 2021, Steve Fretzin, founder of Fretzin, Inc., led a whiteboard discussion on law firm business development and organizational best practices. Participants learned how to pursue strategic opportunities for their solo firms such as leveraging current connections, building new relationships, and identifying revenue streams to sustain firm growth. Mr. Fretzin also answered participants' targeted questions about creating client-centric firms and provided them with practical strategies to generate new business.

Steve Fretzin
                                  Steve Fretzin

Operating a Law Firm Like the Startup It Is

April 22, 2021

Every lawyer deciding to open their own firm will eventually come to the realization that they are no longer just an attorney, but also a business owner. When it comes to wearing two hats, it is important to afford each role sufficient time, attention, resources, and planning.  On April 22, 2021, Jared Reynolds (’15) and Matthew McElwee (’16) from RM Law Group LLC provided participants with concrete examples and suggestions on running a small business and practicing law.  From using data to build stability and predict growth to using law firm technology to increase productivity and reduce administrative burden, participants learned how to increase effectiveness in both roles.

Jared Reynolds
                             Jared Reynolds ('15)
Matthew McElwee ('16)
                         Matthew McElwee ('16)

Positioning Your Practice for Growth in a Pandemic

March 25, 2021

Alumna Candace Hansford (’12) provided participants with strategies in positioning their practices for growth in the midst of a pandemic. In this workshop, Ms. Hansford discussed ways in which new lawyers can deepen trust with clients, stay agile, pivot quickly, and continue to plan for the long term.

Candace Hansford ('12)
                           Candace Hansford ('12)

Full Day Training Boot Camp

February 26, 2021

On February 26, 2021, SSPI participants attended an all-day boot camp that provided essential information on getting a successful law practice up and running. Dean Anita K. Krug welcomed the new lawyers to the program and Dawn Young moderated the training, which included presentations from seasoned IIT Chicago-Kent alumni and business professionals in the community

  • Ethical Considerations in Starting a Law Practice – Presenter: Melissa Smart, Director of Education, Illinois Attorney Registration and Disciplinary Commission of the Supreme Court of Illinois
  • Law Firm Finance – Presenter: Andrew B. Gordon ('12), President, Gordon Law Group, Ltd.
  • Starting Your Firm – Individual Lawyer and Law Firm Requirements – Presenter: Libby Popovic, Founding Partner, Caputo & Popovic
  • Billing, Retainers, Engagement Letters, and Pricing – Presenter: Kathleen M. Robson, Founding Partner, Robson & Lopez, LLC
  • How a Malpractice Policy Protects Your Practice – Presenter: Jeff Strand, President and Chief Executive Officer, ISBA Mutual
  • Creating a Law Firm Tech Plan – Presenter: Debbie Ginsberg, Educational Technology Librarian, IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law
  • Four Critical Moments in Attracting and Retaining Happy Clients – Presenter: Randy Micheletti, President and Founder, Incubate IP
  • Business Development/Marketing Best Practices for Solo and Small Firms – Presenter: Nancy Roberts Linder, Chief Marketing Officer, Chapman and Cutler, LLP
  • Welcome and Introduction to Amata Law Office Suites – Presenters: Grant Drager, General Manager and Director of Sales, and Beth Lestingi, Amata

Lawyer to Lawyer Mentoring

February 26, 2021

SSPI participants and their mentors attended a mentoring orientation presented by Dawn Young. The orientation provided an overview of the mentoring component of the program, including its purpose and goals. IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law is a sponsoring organization of the Illinois Supreme Court Commission on Professionalism’s Lawyer to Lawyer Mentoring Program. The mentoring program creates an opportunity for experienced lawyers to provide professional guidance and share their judgment and skills with lawyers in their early years of practice.

Group Photo
Dean Krug welcomed SSPI participants and their mentors to the lawyer to lawyer mentoring orientation. 

SSPI Participants and Mentors: