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Salman Azam, Managing Partner

Young Founder & Managing Partner Salman Azam of Lakeshore Law Group

Twenty-six year old Salman Azam is a young successful professional that is taking the windy city on by storm. By profession, he serves as a Managing Partner of Lakeshore Law Group – the first firm focused on the needs of small businesses and professionals that predominantly exist within the South Asian community in Chicago, Illinois. While most young lawyers barely have any time to do anything more than eat, work, and sometimes sleep, Salman manages to squeeze out a few extra hours to have a life beyond his legal career. As a Host for Radio Islam, Chicago’s only daily Muslim talk show, Salman reaches out to fellow Chicagoans about important political, religious and cultural issues whenever he’s on air. As Media Chairperson for the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA), Salman lends his skills towards the organization of their annual convention- which draws more than 40,000 plus individuals. While Salman may come from a family of physicians , his young success illustrates that law was sincerely his true calling. Learn more about Salman bridged his entrepreneurial skills, legal know-how and passion to help his community to create a successful and powerful law firm, as feature him in this week’s Young & Professional Profile.


Lakeshore Law Group, LLP


May 2005



Name, Title

Salman Azam
Managing Partner
Lakeshore Law Group LLP




Staten Island, New York

Current residence

Chicago, Illinois


DePaul University College of Law, JD 2003

Oxford University, 2001

Loyola Univeristy Chicago, BA 2000

Work Experience

Lakeshore Law Group LLP 2005-Present

Mayer, Brown, Rowe & Maw 2003-2005



About Lakeshore Law Group

Lakeshore Law Group is a firm focused on the needs of small businesses and professionals, especially those in the South Asian Community. Today, Lakeshore Law Group represents many prominent physicians, small and medium-sized businesses in the Chicago area and across the country.

Practice areas of Lakeshore Law Group include: Corporate Transactions, Civil Litigation, Real Estate, Estate Planning, Immigration and Family Law. Lakeshore Law Group holds the distinction of being the first South Asian Law Firm comprised of multiple South Asian Lawyers that specialize in servicing South Asian clientèle.

What are your day-to-day responsibilities?

As Managing Partner, I oversee the case load and make sure things are progressing smoothly on our active engagements. As a founder and partner, it is a daily duty to make sure we have business. A part of everyday deals with following up with contacts and leads for future business as well as checking in with existing clients and updating them on progress and our vision for the future.

Every now and then, I actually work on cases, just joking. Along with the above responsibilities, I have to take care of my own case load which means reviewing lots of contracts, writing up agreements and spending a lot of time on the phone. For corporate attorneys a lot of the action happens on the phone where deals and negotiations take place daily.

Most notable milestones

Becoming the first South Asian law firm in Chicago. Having five attorneys as part of the law firm structure, there are a lot of solo guys out there, and still many two to three attorney outfits, but having five attorneys who can now service various legal needs truly made us a full-service firm and the first of its kind in Chicago.

Landing the three largest South Asian companies in Chicago as our clients. It was a goal of ours to definitely have one of the three at the very least, and really wanted two, but to have all three really showed that people are taking note of our abilities and trust our expertise.

The establishment of our non-profit and pro-bono department. It is good to be successful and profitable but when you are in a position to help those causes that really matter to you with the resources you have has a whole another level of fulfillment. We now represent several non profits and do a good number of pro bono engagements for them as well as within the community for individuals.

What’s the niche?

The niche is simple, Chicago has a lot of South Asians, a lot of South Asian entrepreneurs, there has been a void in South Asian corporate legal providers, so fill it. Members of The CulturalConnect can best understand the increased familiarity, networking ability, and ease working within your community can provide. The fact that we can speak our clients language(s), cultural practices and such give us a huge advantage. We realize our clients have made it and can afford large firms, but why be on the bottom of their totem pole when you can be at the top of ours.

What’s the biggest challenge?

The biggest challenge is to prove yourself, the fact that we are as good as the other established firms and to get people to give us a try. Having reputable clients can help but usually it isn’t until we’ve worked on and successfully helped a client that we really prove ourself. While a large portion of the community has shown overwhelming support to help the first South Asian law firm, there are some out there that think it is better to get a mainstream firm. We will just have to work to prove them wrong.

Most memorable business experience

Most memorable business experience has to be sitting across from a CEO of a major corporation. I had worked as one attorney in an army of legal counselors for when I was employed by a firm. Now through our firm, I am able to deal with him directly as I am the chief legal counsel for a company he is now dealing with. For confidentiality reasons we can not reveal names but I can tell you that the increased exposure and responsibility afforded to me by our new client was evident in this encounter.

What are the extracurriculars that keep you busy outside of the Law Group?

I serve on the board of directors of my mosque and religious and community non-profit organizations. I am a host for Radio Islam, 1450am Chicago (www.radioislam.com) and that lets me reach out to a wide audience. I am very involved with Islamic Society of North America (ISNA), the largest Muslim orginization in North America, I serve as their Media Chairperson for their annual convention which draws 40,000 plus yearly. I write a legal column from time to time in a South Asian newspaper and of course basketball in an Indo-Pak league.

What’s in store for the future?

We know that we are working with a new setup, but the dream is to really have a mid-sized law firm, one that will continue on through generations. We started with two, now have five attorneys, we hope that number will grow and the practice can continue through generations.

As more South Asians choose law school as an alternative we want to set up more clerkships for them at our firm and have summer programs and give back to the community with seminars and educational presentations. We have started to do this at community centers and places of worship but hope to increase this value-added service to our clients and community.

Who would you like to be contacted by?

We would like to be contacted by the younger South Asian community, a lot of our success is attributed to growing with companies and while we have clients who are mainly “uncles and aunties” we want the new generation of emerging South Asians with their bright ideas and business proposals to come to us so we can advise them and help them grow and grow with them. We can be of assistance to them and they can be our business in generations to come.

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Best way to keep a competitive edge

Unparalleled customer service. Even being an attorney puts us in a “service industry” and customer service wins out. Our attorneys do not make you come to our downtown offices. We go to our clients, even meet them in a setting that is comfortable to them. We are available to our clients outside the box. We are a part of their community. They know they can pull us aside at a party, the millions of weddings that go on or even invite us to their houses. We go the extra step for the added personal service so that our clients know they did the right thing by picking their community lawyers. They expect a little more from us and we try to go above and beyond.

Guiding principle in life

Treat people as you would like to be treated. In our industry, this is very important. When people come to us for legal services, usually they are in some sort of hardship, we don’t like to think of them as customers or clients, but rather friends and family, which they often are. By thinking of this way we can be better counselors for them. When we are in the same bind, we know that we want special consideration and not be just “another client.” We try to find a connection or common ground that puts our clients at ease, making us people they trust and laying a foundation for a lasting relationship.

Yardstick of success

I grew up in a very physician-based family and throughout my childhood and young adult life, I saw the various physicians in my family help out my grandparents and others having health issues and really making a difference. Becoming a lawyer, I never wanted those close to me to “need” my services but our society is such that lawyers are needed in many capacities. My family often jokes, “How did we get along without a lawyer in the family before Salman?” but true success to me is being in a position where you can actually help those around you, I hate to quote but I’ll go with Emerson:

“To laugh often and much; To win the respect of intelligent people and the affection of children; To earn the appreciation of honest critics and endure the betrayal of false friends; To appreciate beauty, to find the best in others.

To leave the world a bit better, whether by a healthy child, a garden patch or a redeemed social condition; To know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived. This is to have succeeded.”

Goal yet to be achieved

I have always had a personal goal of holding some sort of elected office. From township level to state representative positions, it has been an ultimate goal. I am fortunate to be in a position where I have been involved within the community through work and organizations. The law-firm constantly creates endless networking opportunities with influential businessmen and institutions, the organizations provide me with civic responsibility and constantly provides me knowledge of what changes need to come about.

Best practical advice

Take a vested interest in the engagements and projects you undertake, only then will you truly take pride in your work product.

Supportive words from a family member or friend on your venture

“I have been working for the man for too long and it has left me little time to help those causes I really feel passionately about, when you do this independent venture and have more control, make sure you make a bigger difference with the added flexibility and control.”


Dr. Sanjay Gupta because he is so well-rounded. Not only is he good at what he does or was trained in – medical doctor and all – but he was able to use his natural abilities to turn that into being a medical correspondent on CNN, have a health column on TIME, podcasts and more.

He showed me that you can help people in many different ways when you are good at what you do. When you are put-together well, you have many opportunities to help others. You of course have to be proficient in many things much like the doctor; sophisticated, educated, eloquent, well read and written but you can really make a difference.

What motivated you to get started?

When I worked for the larger firm, people still knew I was an attorney and asked me for advice and would want me to work on those cases, but when you work for a firm there are a lot of formalities, you cannot just take any cases. There is a lot of red tape. I kept having to refer out business to others and they weren’t happy with their work product. I no longer wanted to be one of many attorneys doing a small part in something much larger but personally work on matters for my community and I could do this by starting our own firm.

Like best about what you do?

The fact that a lot of our clients are my friends; it makes meetings, presentations and appointments a lot more fun! In all seriousness, working in the setup that we have, a victory in a case means not only were we successful as attorneys but we truly helped out someone we know.

Like least about what you do?

I alluded to earlier that when people come to us, they are in some sort of hardship. While we can help them most of the time, it is hard to be the bearer of bad news as well and trying to comfort them through tough times.

At age 10, what did you want to be when you grew up?

An NBA basketball player, no doubt!

What was your first job?

I was an intern at our local district attorney’s office.

Biggest pastime outside of work

Playing basketball.

Person most interested in meeting and why?

Barack Obama; I would really like to sit down and talk to him in depth, not to mention that I’ve been trying to get him to be on my radio show. The reason why I want to talk to him more is because he has figured out how to have the media love him and even win the respect of his adversary party members. His ability to look beyond party lines and emphasis on working together is the type of philosophy we need to look to in the future. These tactics can be used not only in politics but a myriad of situations that we encounter in life from business, our family, religion and community.

Three interesting facts about yourself

  1. I have an obsession with well-roundedness.
  2. I love to travel.
  3. I’m a slave to fashion.

Two characteristics that describe you

  1. Gregarious
  2. Relentless

Three greatest passions

  1. Religion
  2. Politics
  3. Basketball

Favorite book

“The Great Gatsby” by F. Scott Fitzgerald

Favorite cause

Interfaith Relations & Understanding

Is there anything else you!d like to add?

My family has had everything to do with my success; their guidance, their support and advice have brought me where I am today. I thank God and my lovely family for having the opportunities that I have.

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Interview by Sumaya Kazi
Introduction by Rupa Dev
Edited by Valerie Enriquez

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