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Law school podcast: ‘Entrepreneurs are the new rock stars’

J.B. Pritzker and Howard Tullman discuss the start-up tech scene in Chicago

CHICAGO - Success after law school doesn’t always mean practicing law, and J.B. Pritzker, co-founder of the Pritzker Group and Illinois Democratic candidate for governor, and Howard Tullman, CEO of 1871 Chicago, are great examples of how a legal education can offer an advantage in the business world.

In the 12th episode of Northwestern Pritzker School of Law’s Planet Lex podcast series, host Dean Daniel Rodriguez talks with Pritzker (JD ’93) and Tullman (WCAS ’67 JD ’70), both alumni of Northwestern, about what it takes to pursue innovation in business. They also discuss the five must-haves for an entrepreneurial mindset and dig into the startup tech scene in Chicago.

Excerpts on the comparative advantage of Chicago in the “entrepreneurial ecosystem space” versus Silicon Valley and Manhattan

Pritzker: “Chicago is one of the great college towns in the world. So you start with these great educational resources. In each place, they have programs that are unique, interesting and different — and if you could bring those to bear for the start-ups and the new founders, they could be some of the best-educated entrepreneurs in the country…

“Some people use the word ‘Chicagoness,’ and it’s the unique fact of the Chicago business community and the Chicago community more broadly — and I would say across Illinois, too. (It’s) a tightly knit community that is pulling for each other. The idea that you could pull the resources that you need into one location and then have everybody rooting for the entrepreneurs and helping them be successful — that’s hard to do — and yet in Chicago, it’s not that hard to do. That’s a unique fact, and it’s more of a behavioral thing about Chicago than anything else.”

Tullman: “To add to what J.B. said, the other three things that are really unique about Chicago and about this marketplace are: First, the deals are better — there’s less competition. Second, the workforce is more loyal. This is a huge issue. On the coasts, they can’t keep anybody. And jumping from position to position is a constant source of turmoil for businesses and keeps them from growing in a scalable fashion. And lastly, it turns out in Chicago the common activity among venture capitalists is a number of these firms will get together and jointly back something. You can’t imagine how much crossover there is. On the coasts, that’s a very rare thing. They just frankly want to do it themselves. There’s this desire, as J.B. said, to work together and boost the entire system to a newer height.” 

About Planet Lex

Northwestern Law Dean Rodriguez hosts and the Legal Talk Network produces the Planet Lex podcast series. The podcasts typically feature interviews with prominent Northwestern faculty members, discussing the law’s role in changing global, societal and technological landscapes.

Topics of earlier episodes include defending Brendan Dassey; the evolution of music copyright law; sexual misconduct on campus; the regulation of public corruption; technological advancements and the law; law enforcement and implicit bias; and integrating the law and STEM-focused multidisciplinary education; online privacy and cybersecurity; and the U.S. Supreme Court.

Listen to all 12 episodes.

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