Incorporation/Organization Day Helps Local Entrepreneurs Form Legal Business Entities

Members and guests at the Polsky Exchange (photo by John Zich)

The Polsky Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation recently hosted Incorporation/Organization Day, a first-of-its-kind event in Chicago that connected West and South Side entrepreneurs with attorneys from local law firms to discuss the process of establishing a legal business entity.

Approximately 50 entrepreneurs attended the event, representing business ventures that ranged from consulting firms and hair salons to restaurants and staffing agencies, and everything in between.

During the event, entrepreneurs were matched with a lawyer who met with them one-on-one to advise them on entity choice. The attorneys then helped business owners who were ready to move forward prepare incorporation or organization filings for the Illinois Secretary of State or Delaware Division of Corporations.

“Access to legal services consistently ranks as one of the top issues for underserved entrepreneurs,” said Abigail Ingram, executive director of the Polsky Center and lead organizer of the event. “Incorporation/Organization Day connected local entrepreneurs who have not yet engaged an attorney or may be unsure of how to engage an attorney with representatives from some of Chicago’s top law firms to receive consultations and assistance with starting an official business entity.”

About a dozen entrepreneurs filed on Incorporation/Organization Day, though even those that did not file said they received valuable information at the event.

“Having the opportunity to obtain legal advice is invaluable for small businesses,” said Angie Hancock, owner of Angie Hancock and Associates, a business consulting firm. “The event was timely and great for me in that I needed to register my business in Illinois. The process was very smooth and fast.”

“The Incorporation/Organization Day at The Polsky Exchange helped me tremendously,” said Markizh Johnson, owner of Platinum Medical Staffing, LLC. “I wanted clarification on my business entity and I was provided top-notch information. Because of this event, I was able to offset a $1,500 initial attorney consultation.”

Thirteen attorneys from six legal firms provided the pro bono consultations, including Jacob Styburski, senior managing associate from global law firm Dentons US LLP.

“The Dentons team was pleased to further our partnership with the Polsky Center and the University of Chicago and our deep commitment to the community by participating in the inaugural Incorporation/Organization Day,” he said. “Throughout the event, we supported more than a dozen startup founders and small business owners in their efforts to set up formal business entities and think through ways to improve their operations. It was a great opportunity to support UChicago, local small businesses, and entrepreneurship.”

Participating firms included:

  • Cooley LLP
  • CZL P.C.
  • Dentons US LLP
  • Dressler & Peters, LLC
  • Kirkland & Ellis LLP
  • Thompson Hine

The Polsky Center hopes this event will become the first of many to help support local entrepreneurs incorporate.

“This program aligns with the Polsky Center’s mission to provide resources to community entrepreneurs and help them start and scale their businesses,” said Ingram. “We received very positive feedback from attendees – both those that incorporated and those that didn’t. We look forward to offering similar events in the future.”

Article by Devon McPhee, freelance writer and editor, and owner of DM Editorial Services, LLC. Devon has more than 20 years of experience covering business, science and technology, health and medicine, and higher education.

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