Legal network pays it forward
Four of the 26 members of North Shore Law, from Left to Right: Lynda Schultz, Marcia Franklin, Abbey Fishman Romanek and Ellen Greenberge. | Jackie Pilossoph~For Sun-Times Media
North Shore Law
1187 Wilmette Ave. #215
Updated: November 8, 2012 2:54PM
WILMETTE — When Katie Cory of Wilmette was starting a retail business in Hubbard Woods, she needed an attorney to help her incorporate, register with the State of Illinois and deal with other business start up issues.
Not knowing any attorneys who specialize in business, and not wanting to take a chance and call just anyone, Cory reached out to her friend, Abbey Fishman Romanek, a litigator who Cory thought might be able to recommend another attorney.
What Cory didn’t realize was that not only could her friend give her a name, but that referring attorneys to potential clients is Romanek’s business.
“I called Abbey and said, ‘Here’s what I need,’” said Cory, owner of the Scandinavian Boutique, Skandal in Hubbard Woods. “She told me she’d look into it and call me back and she did. She then recommended Marcia Franklin, a business and estate planning attorney who specializes in small businesses. I called Marcia and I felt comfortable right away.”
Cory is just one of many individuals that Romenek’s two year-old organization, North Shore Law has helped. North Shore Law is a network of 26 expert legal professionals in almost all areas of law. All the members of the group are women, and all have practices on the North Shore.
Romanek said she came up with the idea for North Shore Law when for years, she would be networking, and people would always ask her for recommendations in other areas of law.
“I would be telling people I was a litigator, and they’d say, ‘Can you help me with a will?’ or ‘Can you help me with a divorce?’” said 51 year-old Romanek who has been practicing litigation for 26 years, “I found myself saying no, and then realized that these were potential down-the-line clients, but they wouldn’t come back to me if I said no. By putting together this group of highly qualified, experienced women, I’d have the opportunity to say yes and help these people.”
Romanek said it wasn’t difficult to find many attorneys interested in becoming a part of her organization, because they were in the same situation as she was. They wanted more business and they were also asked often for attorney referrals in other fields.
“Marketing is expensive and time consuming and with referrals, you don’t have to spend any time or money,” she said, “When someone calls me with a patent issue, I give them the number of the patent attorney in our group. No one gets a commission. This is all a pay-it-forward kind of thing.”
Romanek met most of the members who are now part of North Shore Law through other networking groups and events. The group is still growing, but only allows a maximum of three attorneys in each particular field. Members pay $350 per year as dues, and meet once a month to get to know each other better and to learn about each other’s businesses.