In Conversation with Jillian Baronoff of Lawzy
Describe your business in a few words?
Lawzy is a new and intuitive mobile app that connects consumers to lawyers who provide prompt answers to legal questions at an accessible price.
What made you take the leap to start your own business?
I took the leap after experiencing a health scare that led to an emergency procedure. I was 29-years-old, I didn’t have kids (except for my two dogs), and I had nothing holding me back but myself. I blocked out the negative self-talk, and I quit my job the following week.
What was your background prior to starting your own business?
I was a divorce attorney at a prominent family law firm in Miami. Divorces involve an array of legal issues from contract negotiations to business valuations, which crossover into entrepreneurship.
Did you always know you wanted to be an entrepreneur?
Yes. Starting a business always felt natural to me because my parents were both entrepreneurs. My father was the CEO and founder of a healthcare company and my mother ran her own insurance business. I think growing up in an environment where my parents were both self-employed, really laid the foundation for me to want to do the same.
Take us back to when you first launched your business, what was your marketing strategy to get the word out and did it go as planned?
Lawzy at its core is a legal marketplace that connects consumers to attorneys for legal advice. But, we can’t have a legal marketplace without lawyers on the app. If you’re wondering what came first – the lawyer or the consumer – it was the lawyer. Our initial marketing strategy focused on driving lawyer downloads of the app and establishing a core group of attorneys to serve as early adopters. We posted social media ads and reached out to our professional networks, but we didn’t get enough traction. I decided to focus on “job seekers” or attorneys looking for career opportunities. I joined a few job boards and career websites and I posted a call-to-action for lawyers to join our attorney network. Within the first few weeks, I received more than 100 requests from attorneys. I couldn’t believe it.
We always learn the most from our mistakes, share a time with us that you made a mistake or had a challenging time in business and what you learned from it?
Raising capital during a pandemic definitely had its challenges. I learned that pitching is a numbers game. It’s a lot like dating. Not every person you go out with wants the second date, and that’s ok. Everything takes time. Eventually, you find the right match.
What is the accomplishment you are the most proud of to date?
I’m extremely proud of myself for pursuing a life-long dream of starting a business. Making a career change isn’t easy, but the risk is well worth the reward.
When hiring for your team, what is your go-to interview question? Please share any hiring tips you can share from your experience?
Did you download Lawzy and would you use it? I look for people who are passionate, honest and hard working. Anyone can get experience, but passion is something you have or you don’t.
How has your business or industry been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic?
The pandemic forced law 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. Lawyers are changing how they think about the delivery of legal services–including how an app like lawzy might fit into their practice.
What’s next for your business? What can we expect to see over the next few years?
Lawzy recently launched in Florida, but we plan to grow on a national scale over the next few years. We’re really excited about our future.
What is the biggest lesson you have learned in 2020?
Sometimes you need to take a step back to take a step forward.
What do you know now that you wish you knew when you were first starting your business?
Nada! Growing pains are defining moments for me. I’ve learned the most from my biggest challenges.
How have you managed to stay grounded this year?
I’ve been grounded for almost a year now – literally confined to my house until further notice due to the pandemic. In all seriousness, I’m very lucky to have people in my life that I can rely on for honest advice. I think the pandemic has tested all of us and a strong support system makes a huge difference.
Do you believe in work/life balance? What are some of your best tips?
I believe in work/life balance, but I also believe balance looks different for everyone. I think it’s important to make time for yourself even if you can’t do it every day. It helps to plan a vacation or even a day off to completely unplug. It’s nice having things to look forward to in the future.
What’s something our audience would be surprised to learn about you?
I went to a weight loss camp a/k/a fat camp for five summers – four years as a camper and one year as a counselor.
What are your top 3 tips to stay productive each day?
- Take short breaks throughout the day.
- Get up and walk around when you’re feeling distracted.
- Keep a daily to-do list. There’s something really satisfying about crossing tasks off your list.
What does being an Entreprenista mean to you?
Being an Entreprenista means I’m a boss. Not a girl boss, but a boss. When the media talks about a male executive, the article never mentions that he’s a man. Yet, the same can’t be said for women. While I entirely believe women in business need a platform to be visible, I hope society gets to a place where a female executive isn’t an exception, but the norm.