Deborah Cohen

Chicago, IL USA
Website: http://

Professional Experience

I'm a versatile journalist who has covered business for more than 17 years. Current focus areas are small business, personal finance, legal affairs and lifestyle trends. I have also written extensively about the fast food, consumer products and manufacturing industries. I'm equally comfortable interviewing CEOs, small business owners, politicians, analysts, investors and everyday consumers. Years of wire-service reporting have made me cool under deadline pressure, but I'm happiest when I can dive into a thoughtful feature story or business profile. I have written a weekly column about small business for Reuters and a monthly column on solo attorneys for the ABA Journal. I have also contributed to BusinessWeek's Chicago edition, Crain's Chicago Business, Smart Money, Success, Chicago Grid, American Banker, Indianapolis Monthly, QSR, Bloomberg magazine, the Fiscal Times, Law Technology News, Today's Chicago Woman and the Chicago Journal, among other publications.


Content Editor (online)
6 Years
Copy Editor
6 Years
17 Years


6 Years
3 Years
7 Years


Magazine - Large Consumer/National magazines
6 Years
Newspaper - Local/Regional
2 Years
Wire Service
12 Years

Total Media Industry Experience

18 Years

Media Client List (# assignments last 2 yrs) (10+), Success (6-10), American Banker (3-5), Law Technology News (1-2), Indianapolis Monthly (1-2), The Grid (Chicago Sun-Times) (1-2), Smart Money (1-2), Middle Market Growth (1-2), Crain's Chicago Business (10+), ABA Journal (10+)

Corporate Client List (# assignments last 2 yrs)

Thomson Reuters Westlaw (1-2), Lincoln International LLC (1-2), Movable Media (1-2), Johnson & Johnson (1-2), Baker & McKenzie (1-2), Imagination Publishing (10+), The Rudin Group (6-10)

Other Work History

Former staff correspondent for Reuters, Crain's Chicago Business, Bloomberg News.

Technical Skills

Digital SLR photography, basic photo editing

Foreign Language Skills

conversational Spanish

Computer Skills

Word, Excel, Mac OS 10


Macintosh G5 desktop, Mac laptop, Canon digital SLR camera, digital recorder, iPad with keyboard


References supplied upon request; several are listed on LinkedIn profile


2009 SPJ award winner for best lifestyle feature in a magazine (Indianapolis Monthly); 2003 finalist, Peter Lisagor Award for exemplary Chicago journalism (business reporting on McDonald's Corp.)


American Society of Journalists and Authors SABEW Member, Association of Women Journalists


Personal Finance

Ed Zwirner and his wife, Alison Loeppert, recently bought an historic house in the Chicago suburbs without brokers' fees, tight moving deadlines, undetected defects or other stresses that accompany one of life's biggest purchases. At the same time, Loeppert's parents made a similar move. The secret? The two couples exchanged homes: the teachers and their two young sons gained more square footage and a big yard on a residential street. The empty-nesters traded unneeded extra space for the easy maintenance of condominium living within short walking distance of an attractive downtown and lakefront.
Savvy home owners are finding creative ways to pass along some of the financial burdens of home ownership to others. For many, the fiscal benefits offset concerns about troublesome tenants and privacy. It can be a wise move, but hopeful homebuyers should be aware of running afoul of zoning laws.
Margaret DiSantis always wanted a child. But the Chicago advertising executive never expected she would have to sell her house, drop out of business school and move back in with her parents to tackle costs associated with hiring the surrogate mother who delivered her baby.
A growing group of U.S. families are turning to private counselors - an expanding and somewhat controversial cottage industry - for help with college selection and an application process that has become more competitive and complex in recent years.


The hottest concepts in franchising include self-serve frozen yogurt and gourmet burgers, in-home senior care, cleaning and pet services. But financing is still tough after the 2008 credit crunch and new franchisees sometimes risk their retirement funds.
At a time when large airlines are struggling to survive, Greg Stallkamp '11 has managed to get a new air charter operation off the ground.
InContext Solutions is a tech startup that makes savvy use of three-dimensional replicas of the floor plans of major retail chains.
Combine a simple art class with consumption of wine and spirits and you have a respite from the real world that translates to the makings of a successful franchise.
Back in the day, runners would be OK coming home from a race with a T-shirt. Now many expect to be lavished with high-tech togs, post-race food and drink and entertainment. Credit Steve Ginsburg and Paul Rosenblum with spoiling them.
There's anecdotal evidence that an increasing numbers of teens are filling the gaps in the economy and their wallets by doing odd jobs or selling the technical skills at which many excel. And their parents are promoting them -- via Facebook, LinkedIn, neighborhood chatrooms and more.
More than a decade after digital sent Kodak into a tailspin, Anthony Vizzari's thumbing his nose at the camera phone. In 2007, three years before Kevin Systrom and Mike Krieger founded Instagram, Vizzari stumbled onto an object that has become a $500,000-a-year business for him and his wife Andrea.
Who doesn't want to feel special? That's the secret behind loyalty programs, the plans that entice consumers to rack up airline miles, earn points on their credit cards for cash and gifts, and receive discounts for frequent dining at favorite restaurants.
For Jeff Chimenti, a rock keyboardist who plays with offshoots of the Grateful Dead, it has been anything but a "long strange trip" getting his medical product to market.
Cleetus Friedman is convinced consumers will continue to pay a premium for healthier, locally sourced food, despite the sluggish economy that has many watching their wallets.
Out-of-towners looking for a place to stay during big college sports events need look no further than GameDayHousing, Brusznicki's fast-growing sports vacation brokerage.
Credit unions have lobbied for more than a year to get Congress to raise the lid on small business lending, but opposition from the banking industry has stalled proposed legislation.
When a small business goes on the block, it's not just buyers who are investigating. Smart sellers are coming to the table with a clear understanding of their business' competitive position in the market, a realistic asking price and knowledge of a potential buyer's suitability.
American small business owners of all stripes - some relocating existing ventures and others starting new ones - are considering tax-friendly locales ranging from Bermuda to Belize.
Large and small businesses are inundated with requests for charitable donations. Although giving freebies or cash can shave precious dollars off already razor-thin margins, many companies find the dollars they give get repaid in publicity and customer loyalty. It helps to be strategic.
The Jobs Act will let internet investors buy stock. It's a change expected to transform the way startups and small businesses raise money.
It may take a fervent commitment to community to overcome the odds facing brick-and-mortar sellers of new books.
Funding site Kickstarter harnesses the power of the Internet to let artists showcase their projects online, setting a timeframe for reaching specific monetary goals in return for a piece of the action.
The push to force e-sellers like Amazon to apply local state taxes toward online purchases is hurting thousands of small Internet companies.
With so many social media platforms to choose from, why do businesspeople flock to LinkedIn? Because unlike Facebook, whose users share a steady stream of personal updates, LinkedIn subscribers sign on to get down to business.
It's not easy for Chicago's food trucks. Competitive pressure from fast-food joints effectively caps prices. Chicago winters force many operators to close for a full season; those who stay open see business cut in half.
Puerto Rico's Popular Community Bank leverages its position as a community-focused bank amid hostility toward big banks.

Legal Affairs

A Nevada attorney shakes up the market with a practice that sharply discounts legal services.
Tax credits aided historic building restoration during the financial downturn.
In 2005, Chloe Gilgan bet that obtaining a law degree would guarantee her a competitive salary and a steady career path. Instead, she wound up with a mountain of debt and limited job prospects.
When the fictional television brothers Frasier and Niles Crane attempted to open a joint psychiatric practice, sibling rivalry intervened. In real life, Seattle-based attorneys Mindy Ann Terence and Thomas Terence seem to have the formula for a successful sibling practice down.
Where the world economy goes, American law firms follow. These days, much of the action in global finance is coming from oil-rich and developing countries in Asia and the Middle East that are pouring their bountiful equities into U.S. and Western European businesses.
Attorneys seek redress over consumer abuses in the credit industry, including harassment, "sewer service" and borrowers being thrown in jail for failure to appear in court.
Greg Burke ekes out his living hawking sausages and breaded-and-fried meat sandwiches aboard the Schnitzel King, a food truck he operates in Chicago. He and others among the growing ranks of mobile food vendors around the country have been taking issue with a host of restrictive local ordinances.
The photocopy is dying a slow death, one that's particularly costly for law firms. In today's digital world, most legal documents are scanned, emailed, and electronically edited, then sent to local printers at attorneys' desks or to sophisticated multi-function machines at in-house copy centers. But cost recovery at firms has not kept pace with these electronic options, and many of these routine expenses are simply absorbed. Photocopies are still high on the list of costs charged back to clients, but in-house prints and digital work — such as scans, photo editing and graphic design — lag.
A Florida case is among recent incidents where the forced consumption of alcohol, physical brutality and other forms of hazing on and around college campuses have resulted in acts of cruelty and death.
Liberia-born solo Johnetta Paye is betting her homeland holds great promise for American attorneys. Africa is opening up as a new frontier for American business, and Paye is offering clients wanting to expand into the subcontinent a distinct advantage.
A look at the pluses and minuses of starting a solo practice.
As crowdfunding has grown in popularity, a diverse group of backers ranging from grassroots community activists to old-line conservatives has voiced support to allow the practice to expand beyond current models.
Many retailers contend there is a significant disparity between online sellers of goods and their brick-and-mortar counterparts. Several states are enacting “Amazon tax laws” to go after uncollected state revenue. This story explores the legal precedents behind the trends.
Part-time teaching has always been a time-consuming and sometimes thankless pursuit. Even so, with a glut of attorneys competing for work in a down economy, more solos appear to be considering adjunct teaching jobs as a means to supplement their income and test an alternative career path.
Dodd-Frank lets the Securities and Exchange Commission give whistle-blower protection one last lick.
While many lawyers are aware of emergency precautions they need to take to back up their files and client needs, solos may be especially vulnerable to the financial impact of natural disasters.
Networking is a critical component for building a successful solo practice. To help boost their networks, some lawyers are putting together informal career groups.
James Ring wants to eliminate the time lawyers spend bullying and bluffing their way through monetary disputes and other protracted negotiations. So the Boston-based trial lawyer has borrowed from the practice of game theory.


For much of her legal career, Marie-Therese Connolly has been on a crusade. While she admits it is sometimes a quixotic pursuit, her campaign to highlight the overlooked problems of senior citizens such as domestic abuse has been recognized by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation.
Antique coins, guns, anchors and various other historical finds from sunken ships dating from the days of ancient Greece to the Napoleonic Wars-these are the artifacts attorney James Goold has spent much of his career defending.
In 1974, after his father died unexpectedly of a stroke at age 53, Marc Schupan, just 26, took over the Kalamazoo, Michigan-based operation known as Konisberg Co. Nearly 40 years later, he has grown the private company into a conglomerate with $250 million in annual revenue.
A look at the private equity investment strategy of brothers Jay Robert (J.B.) and Anthony N. Pritzker. The billionaire investors together run the private investment firm The Pritzker Group, which focuses on investing in little-known middle market companies.
Health-policy expert Dr. William A. Peck, 80, has seen American health care evolve from the introduction of Medicaid in 1965 to today's fierce political battle pitting Democrats against Republicans.
Lainey Feingold and Linda Dardarian, both longtime California advocacy lawyers, have worked out a method to resolve disputes that avoids conflict, costly litigation and protracted time in court-while still yielding beneficial results for their clients.
Andy Cukurs believes the solution to U.S. energy needs is blowing in the wind.
James Wooten's career has veered from being an accounting clerk for the Burlington Railroad to serving as sergeant in the Chicago Police Department.

Restaurant Industry

A look at how chain restaurants have changed the social landscape of Indianapolis.
A hit on public TV, Chicago's Check, Please! sees the Net as a bigger market for its popular videos.
QSR followed four Wing Zone executives as they took the brand beyond U.S. borders and into Central America.

Architecture & Design

From fully stocked bars to double-decker buses, Zen oases to dairy cafes, this year's coolest offices are designed to turn heads, reinforce brand identities and create welcoming environments for visitors and staffers alike.
Take a tour of Chicago's coolest office spaces for 2012. We identified five.

Food & Consumer Products

Fruit of the Loom is ripe for change but recent management moves don't diminish the company's financial problems.
Masco may not be a household name itself, but its Delta, Merillat and other brands are becoming increasingly familiar to baby boomers moving into bigger homes -- and to investors looking for bigger returns.
Chip giant Frito-Lay ups heat on home-grown favorite Jay's.

Your Practice Columns (

Thanksgiving is the new Christmas for financial advisers seeking to stand out among clients loaded down with goodies during the increasingly competitive holiday gift-giving season.
They don't care where you went to school or what certificates hang on your wall. But once you win them over, wealthy young clients may be your biggest advocates and your best customers.
Regulatory restrictions should not deter financial advisers from trying to carve out a legally acceptable presence on LinkedIn.
Given the reflective nature of the holidays, annual reviews present a chance for financial advisers to gather broader intelligence about changes in their clients' lives such as milestones like the birth of a grandchild, a promotion or career setback, or plans for marriage or divorce.


Los Angeles-based private equity firm Brentwood Associates has made a science of spotting lesser-known consumer concepts with staying power and turning them into more profitable powerhouse brands, increasing demand with fine-tuned marketing and broader distribution.
More companies are buying back stock, but that's not necessarily good news for investors.
With endowments losing billions and fewer donations flowing to non-profits, local institutions suffer.
The inability of many growth companies to go public has done much to boost interest in secondary markets for private company stock. Shares in tech titans Facebook and Zynga have provided much of the buzz around secondary markets of late, as sky-high valuations have caught the eye of investors.


By contracting independent college counselors, the 16-year-old Elias twins have joined the growing ranks of high school students trusting their fate to members of a somewhat controversial cottage industry that is spreading to the Midwest from the coasts.
The obsessions of famous philanthropists and secret collectors are our gain, thanks to families, universities and corporate trusts that have brought them to light in the form of museums. The Chicago area is home to some seriously peculiar and specific small museums.