IVCA Feature: New Member Profile of Croke Fairchild Duarte & Beres

As the new member participants in the Illinois Venture Capital Association (IVCA) keeps expanding, the current membership are given new opportunities for networking, in addition to optimizing support and partnerships, which leads to guidance and new ideas for Venture Capital, Private Equity and support industries.

The latest new member is the law firm of Croke Fairchild Duarte & Beres, who state, “Our lawyers are trusted advisors and counselors valued for their legal skill, intellectual curiosity and commitment to forging pragmatic solutions.”

The following is a Q&A profile with Croke Fairchild Duarte & Beres, which explores the firm’s background and their expectations for interacting with the IVCA.

New Member: Croke Fairchild Duarte & Beres (CFDB)
Representative: Micaela Vargas, Director of Marketing

IVCA: What is a brief history of and background of Croke Fairchild Duarte & Beres?

Croke Fairchild Duarte & Beres: Founded by entrepreneurially minded alumni of some of the country’s largest law firms and most powerful government agencies, Croke Fairchild Duarte & Beres [CFDB] is setting a new standard for excellence in client service and legal acumen. In 2024, CFDB was recognized as one of the largest and fastest-growing certified women-owned law firms in the nation by Women President’s Organization and JPM Chase, anticipating it will surpass 100 attorneys by its fifth anniversary later this year.

Driven to create a firm that would meet the needs of the modern business enterprise, the founding partners built CFDB with a focus on anticipating threats, navigating complexity, delivering pragmatic solutions, and advancing our clients’ long-term interests. Our approach combines ‘big law’ talent with boutique service and strong values with fresh thinking. CFDB is proud to be civically engaged, founder run, and a member of the National Association of Minority and Women Owned Law Firms (NAMWOLF).

IVCA: Why did the firm decide to join the Illinois Venture Capital Association?

CFDB: Croke Fairchild joined the Illinois Venture Capital Association to deepen its engagement with the local Venture Capital and Private Equity community. Our firm is committed to supporting and facilitating the growth of the venture ecosystem in Illinois, where we have already played significant roles in some of the largest exits in Chicago’s recent history. Joining the IVCA allows us to connect more effectively with other key players in the industry and enhance our service offerings to our clients through collaborative insights and initiatives.

IVCA: As a support industry in business/contract/start-up complexity, what services do you think are a best practice fit for the Venture Capital industry?

CFDB: We offer a comprehensive suite of services tailored to meet the diverse needs of venture-backed companies and venture funds from their inception through growth stages and onto exits. Our large list of venture matters include Fund Formation,  Financing Rounds including Seed Financing, Investments, Startup Representation & Formation, Reorganizations & Recapitalizations, and Portfolio Company Advising.

IVCA: I note ‘Startup Representation and Formation.’ What are particulars in that category?

CFDB: We are also proud to represent founders. We understand the founder mentality because as founders we have it, too. Founders have specific needs, and we are proud to be the strategic counselors and partners to founders of early-stage companies, supporting them through exits and into the next stages of their innovation journeys. Our partners have counseled founders through some of the largest exits in recent years – and continue to work with them to this day. These services include Outside General Counsel, Family Office Formation & Structuring, Direct Investments, Strategic Planning, and Family Foundations.

IVCA: Given your experience with the smallest-staffed startups up to macro-concerns for Fortune 500 companies, how does that range provide advantages for potential clients?

CFDB: Well, we have a core of seven advantages, let’s start with three …

We’ve got versatility in ‘Service Delivery.’ Our firm’s capability to navigate both the agile environments of startups and the complex structures of major corporations equips us with the versatility to address varied legal and strategic needs effectively. Whether it’s facilitating seed funding rounds for startups or managing sophisticated reorganizations for established companies, we adapt our approach to suit the scale and objectives of the client.

We provide insight across growth phases. Clients benefit from our comprehensive understanding of the lifecycle of a business. This insight is crucial for providing strategic guidance that anticipates future challenges and opportunities, helping businesses not just to react to the current market, but to proactively shape their future.

We are proficient in Risk Management and Strategic Planning. With a history of dealing with diverse business sizes and types, we are adept at identifying potential risks and opportunities unique to different stages of business growth. This allows us to offer strategic planning services that are deeply informed by a wide range of previous engagements, enhancing the resilience and growth potential of our clients.

IVCA: That’s substantial. What are the other four?

CFDB: We’ll start with ‘Customized Legal Frameworks.’ Our experience with various business sizes enables us to develop customized legal frameworks that are both flexible and robust, accommodating the evolving needs of businesses as they grow from fledgling startups to large enterprises.

We have an access to a broad network. Working with a diverse client base from startups to Fortune 500 companies allows us to cultivate a vast network of industry contacts and resources. Our clients benefit from this network, gaining access to potential partners, investors, and advisors that can facilitate further growth and success.

We cannot emphasize enough our Founder-Focused Expertise. Especially for startups and their founders, our understanding of the founder mentality and the specific challenges they face at different stages of their business journey is invaluable. Our strategic counsel helps guide founders from initial formation through to successful exits and beyond, ensuring they are well-prepared for each phase of their company’s development.

And finally, We are Founders ourselves.

In essence, our experience across such a wide range of company sizes allows us to bring a comprehensive, nuanced perspective to each client engagement, ensuring that our advice and solutions are not only legally sound but also strategically astute and practically viable.

IVCA: As you emphasize above, you have specialties in working with business and company Founders. What particular experience and expertise make you a go-to for this category of individual?

CFDB: One of our key specialties at Croke Fairchild is working with business and company founders. As attorneys who are entrepreneurs ourselves, we have a deep and personal understanding of the founder mentality. This dual perspective as both legal practitioners and business founders enriches our ability to empathize with and effectively address the unique challenges and opportunities that founders face.

We have guided numerous founders through major transactions, including significant exits, and continue to support them as strategic counselors and partners. Our services for founders are comprehensive and tailored to their specific needs. These include acting as Outside General Counsel, forming and structuring family offices, managing direct investments, and developing family foundations.

IVCA: So it’s the blend of being entrepreneurs and legal expertise?

CFDB: This blend of entrepreneurial experience and legal proficiency positions us uniquely as ideal partners for founders. We offer more than just legal advice … we provide strategic insights that come from our own experiences of starting and growing businesses. This makes us more than just attorneys to our clients – we are trusted advisors who understand the journey of building and scaling a company firsthand.

IVCA: What area of commerce – for VC funding or otherwise – have you observed to be most challenging for law firms in the ever-changing financial landscape that our digital world has invented or innovated, and why?

CFDB: In the digital age, one of the most challenging areas for law firms working with Venture Capital is the fast-evolving regulatory environment surrounding technology and data privacy. Staying ahead of global data protection regulations, cybersecurity threats, and the legal implications of new technologies such as blockchain and AI pose significant challenges. Our firm continuously updates its expertise and methodologies to ensure compliance and protect our clients’ interests in this dynamic setting.

IVCA: What does Croke Fairchild Duarte & Beres hope to achieve in their interaction with the VC/PE community within the IVCA?

CFDB: Croke Fairchild aims to strengthen our leadership role within the VC/PE community by sharing our expertise, learning from our peers, and contributing to the development of the venture capital ecosystem in Illinois. Our goal is to foster a collaborative environment where we can continue to support our clients effectively through our specialized services, ensuring their success and growth in the venture capital landscape.

For the website of Croke Fairchild Duarte & Beres, click here.

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