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Jenner & Block hosted more than seventy young professionals last week at the “JUF-TIP Young Entrepreneurs Night,” a cross-vocational professional networking opportunity sponsored by the Jewish United Fund’s Trades, Industries & Professionals Division. The program was designed to inspire attorneys and other professionals to explore the issues involved in establishing startup companies, and to create new business opportunities for those in attendance.
Jenner & Block Associate Elizabeth L. Fine, a member of the Firm’s Litigation Department and Co-Chair of the JUF-TIP Young Lawyers’ Group, helped to organize this event.
Following a brief cocktail reception, four entrepreneurs discussed the experiences they had founding start-up companies. The panelists addressed the risks they took in implementing their ideas and the lessons they learned from earlier failures. Among other things, they stressed the importance of having strong mentors and knowing your customer “inside and out.” Due to the inherent risk involved in entrepreneurial ventures, the panelists also advised the attendees to expect, learn from and persevere through failed endeavors when they happen.
Under the guidance of Jenner & Block Partner Debbie L. Berman, Ms. Fine founded the Young Lawyers’ Group in 2005 with Lesley Kagan, a Clinical Assistant Professor of Law at Northwestern University School of Law, to provide young attorneys in Chicago opportunities for professional and social networking, volunteering at local social service agencies, and educational programs.
“Liz and Lesley developed the Young Lawyers’ Group from nothing,” said Ms. Berman, a longtime leader within JUF and current JUF-TIP Chairman. “The overwhelming success of their programs shows that the group fills a desire amongst ambitious, charitable young professionals to meet and develop relationships with other like-minded individuals.”
In light of the rapid growth of the Young Lawyers’ Group, Ms. Fine has been aiding the JUF to establish similar groups for members of other professions. Ms. Fine served as Assistant Director, Government Relations for State Policy, at United Jewish Appeal-Federation of New York prior to attending law school.
“Jenner & Block’s commitment to the community and its support of my work with the JUF has enabled me to continue to give back as an attorney.” said Ms. Fine. “The leadership skills and the network of people I have met through JUF have also helped me to grow as a lawyer.”
Panelists at the “Young Entrepreneurs Night” included Lindsay Avner, a national advocate in involving young people in the fight against breast cancer and the Founder of BeBrightPink.org; Richard Levy, the founding President and Chief Executive Officer of Salad Spinners Restaurants.; Robert M. Okabe, the Co-Founder of RPX Group, a technology commercialization firm and strategic stakeholder in early stage startups; and David Weinstein, President of Chicagoland Entrepreneurial Center, a nonprofit that helps Chicago entrepreneurs and high-growth businesses build viable, sustainable, and profitable enterprises.
The event was co-sponsored by the JUF-TIP Young Lawyers Group, Young Real Estate Group, and Wholesalers, Retailers and Manufacturers Division.