Jillian Ray Baronoff – CEO Interview

Jillian Ray Baronoff

Founder & CEO of Lawzy

When did you know you wanted to start your own company?

I’ve wanted to start my own company since a very young age. I loved the idea of building something that was mine, but I didn’t know what my company would look like or what problem it would solve. It wasn’t until I became an attorney that the idea for my business really took off.

What was your original idea for this company, and are you still doing that (or did you pivot, if so, what is the new focus and why)?

The original idea for my business focused on online do-it-yourself legal forms and flat-fee legal services. When I put together the business model, the mechanics were overly complicated and it didn’t feel like a service I would use myself. We ended up simplifying our entire business model to offering an easy-to-use platform where an individual could ask a lawyer a question at an accessible price.

How long did it take you to finally take the leap, and what was it that pushed you over the fence?

I finally took the leap after ending up in the hospital for an emergency surgery. I was 29-years-old with no kids (unless you count my two dogs) and I realized that I would never have less responsibility than I did in that moment. I decided it was now or never and I quit my job the following week.

Who inspired you to pursue your dream, and why do you think they believed in you?

I’m very fortunate to have a mother who always believed in me unconditionally. In her eyes, I can do anything. When I decided to start my own business, she offered to help me for a year and encouraged me to do it. I’m very lucky.

Who is your favorite mentor and why?

My favorite mentor is my business partner Paul Leinoff. I worked for his firm as a law clerk throughout law school and eventually as an attorney before founding Lawzy. Paul pushed me so far past my comfort zone that I don’t remember what a comfort zone is anymore. I am very thankful for the training I received at his firm, and I am a much better attorney and overall professional because I worked there.

What was the hardest thing about starting your company, and what did you do to make it through the first stage?

The hardest part about starting my own company was raising capital and building out the financial side of my business. Thankfully, I brought on an advisor early on who guided me through the process.

What has been the hardest lesson to learn?

The hardest lesson has been learning that there is no such thing as a perfect product and being ok with that.

What has been the most amazing thing you have experience while running this company?

I achieved a life-long goal of starting a company and I did it along side a team of people that are equally as passionate about the work that we’re doing as I am. Lawzy has the capacity to disrupt law and help a vast number of people at the same time. The future is really exciting.

What is the weirdest thing you have experienced while running this company, and how did you react to it?

I think it’s bizarre that I receive business emails with smiley or wink faces. If you wouldn’t send smiley or wink faces in a business email to a man, please don’t send one to me.

What is the best decision you’ve ever made while running this company?

The best decision I’ve made while running my company was completely simplifying our product to a Q&A platform. We can scale a lot faster and touch more people.

What is the biggest mistake you made while running this company, and why do you think it happened?

There was one occasion where we made a premature decision before the ink was dry on a potential opportunity. We were excited and our emotions got the best of us.

How has the coronavirus pandemic affected your company?

Coronavirus forced the legal industry to embrace technology in a completely unprecedented way. For example, zoom hearings and trials are now the rule, when they’ve never been the exception. The pandemic has forced lawyers to change how they think about the delivery of legal services–including how an app like lawzy might fit into their practice.

What keeps you passionate about your company?

I believe in what I’m doing and I know I can help people. We just need to keep going.

What daily routine have you developed to help you take care of your mind, body, and soul?

Peloton and more peloton. Spinning clears my head. It’s the one time of day that I have totally to myself without any distractions.

What one thing would you like people to take away from this interview?

It will never feel like the right time to take a risk on yourself. Do it anyway.

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