After watching women attorneys struggle to manage work and life, Erica Zalokar, a former corporate litigator, wanted to help them succeed in both dimensions. She saw smart female attorneys working very hard, but most were not moving up the law firm hierarchy to become equity partners. Others were being laid off or leaving the practice. She observed that many of these women had obligations at home that kept them from networking and operating like the men, increasing their stress.
Erica wanted to help them solve these problems. She came to SCORE in the fall of 2007 with a business plan for an exclusive community of women attorneys, designed to unite and empower them. Needing help with marketing, financing and web design to put her plan into action, she was matched with SCORE counselors Peg Corwin and Iain Lopata.
With the assistance of these counselors and other supporters, by 2009 she had a working website and a popular Legal Balance newsletter with 5,000 subscribers . In 2010, TheLegalBalance.com held an official launch party, promoting a community that offers members exclusive events, mentoring opportunities, work-life balance articles, business development guidance, and experts. The site also brings together a unique mix of businesses that provide laundry delivery, meal delivery, childcare, concierge assistance, meal preparation and personal shopping.
This vibrant community is on the web at www.thelegalbalance.com
Erica credits SCORE Chicago as a major factor in the successful start of her business: “The Legal Balance would not have launched without the mentoring, guidance, tools and encouragement that these counselors gave me. Both counselors willingly gave their time and shared their knowledge to help me reach my business goals. SCORE is an incredible organization. I am grateful to SCORE Chicago and Peg and Iain for their past and future support. I have also recommended that several other friends take advantage of SCORE’s services.”
In the past 11 months, The Legal Balance has grown to 500 members and has garnered the sponsorship of some of the largest and most prominent law firms. Its popular Legal Balance newsletter has over 8,000 subscribers. In addition, a number of powerful women attorneys in Chicago serve as career leaders and mentors in its community. In 2010, The Legal Balance was showcased in Crain’s Chicago Business and was front page news in The Chicago Daily Law Bulletin.
Erica is emphatic that both Peg and Iain were indispensable in making her dream become a reality. According to her, “Iain Lopata’s business and technology expertise taught me how to take my idea and transform them into technology specifications that allowed web developers to bid out the work. Iain also taught me how to manage my technology projects, test a website, negotiate, and ultimately deliver a working site. Peg Corwin’s social media, marketing, business, accounting and management background was invaluable. She helped me understand how to set priorities, get organized and execute the mountain of tasks a startup faces. She also taught me about marketing and social media, as well as budgets and revenue projections.”