Season 1, Episode 013

In this episode of Legally Blissed Conversations, we are joined by Keren de Zwart, founder of Not Your Father’s Lawyer. Keren specializes in corporate transactions and securities law, and assists entrepreneurs and businesses at any stage–from entity formation, intellectual property protection, mergers and acquisitions, raising capital and through exit. Being born into a family of entrepreneurs, she grew up enthralled with the excitement, risk, and success that comes with building your own business.

Keren believes that the legal field is changing and you don’t need your father’s lawyer with fancy mahogany furniture and through-the-roof legal fees. Entrepreneurs, in particular, are especially adept to seeking out quality services that are cost-effective and efficient.

Shownotes

Website: https://notyourfatherslawyer.com/

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/kerendezwart/

Instagram: @notyourfatherslawyerv

Transcript

DISCLAIMER: The following is the output of transcribing from an audio recording. Although the transcription is largely accurate, in some cases, it is incomplete or inaccurate due to inaudible passages or transcription errors.

Suzi: I would like to welcome everyone to the legally blessed podcast. And I would love to welcome Ms. Keren does Wort after working for 10 years in the corporate world, Keren had a desire to fill the legal gap for entrepreneurs and small businesses by replacing the outdated billable hour model with flat fee pricing while finding a way to recapture the so called work life balance. With over a decade of experience in corporate transactions, Keren has worked with every type of business from side hustlers to raising millions of dollars and taking companies public. Today, she helps entrepreneurs get hashtag legally legit. I love that through her law firm, not your father’s lawyer. She resides in Orange County, California with her husband and two children. So welcome again, Keren. I’m so so happy you’re here. And I’m so happy to talk about you. And not your father’s lawyer. So before we talk about not your father’s lawyer, because this is very important. I do want to go back just a little bit. I don’t want you to think back about when you decided I want to be a lawyer. What the hell was happening?

Keren: Right ourselves that what was going wrong in your work, and I was getting what was going through your mind. It’s actually funny. And first of all, thank you for having me. But it’s funny that you say that because there’s kind of this on unknown origin story that I have been saying I wanted to be a lawyer since I was a little kid. And it’s kind of weird, because my parents are not lawyers. There’s no like immediate family members that are lawyers. So we think that at some point, when I was eight or nine years old, my dad made a comment about how I really liked to argue, and I’d make a good lawyer and it was kind of like, put the blinders on. Oh, that’s a good career. I’m going to do that. And that’s just kind of, I went for it. I just, that was my path.

Suzi: Yeah, that’s okay. That’s really cute and fun. I actually really liked that, right? Because I think that a lot of times, parents will pick up on little things that their children do, or they say, and they’re like, I’m destined to be a lawyer, she loves to argue or, you know, a metal for medical school, she loves to play operation. Whatever the thing is, I don’t have children, but I am an auntie a three. And I observed them right. And the little things they do, I’m like, okay, destined to be a physical therapist, or, you know, just fate or so I think that’s really that’s a really fun story. So at some point, you know, you decided, I’m going to take the LSAT, right? Like, that’s kind of what I feel like people like that’s when it’s a real, right, because you are making that decision to commit to investment of time into some actual preparation of going to law school and ultimately, being a lawyer. So what was that like for you?

Keren: Absolutely. I actually, you know, in hindsight, I might have considered some other things too, but because I had kind of been on this path for so long. And I studied political science in undergrad because I loved the kind of government and history and English and so it was kind of like a wrapping together of all of those things. But obviously, Poli Sci is very natural pre law. Major. And so I kind of just had my blinders on and went through and said, You know, I’m going to study for the LSAT, between my junior and senior year of college. And I didn’t do any on campus interviews for anything else. I didn’t consider anything else, which like I said, in hindsight, I think would have been good just to see what else was out there. But I, you know, made a plan and I did it and I didn’t really do it the best way you could ensure I was really focused on school itself. And I was involved in a lot of leadership roles in my sorority and on the Panhellenic Council that oversees all the sororities and a couple of other school related leadership positions and that was really where I was passionate? So the LSAT kind of was on the backburner for me. And it was more like a means to an end. Yeah. Yeah. And, you know, but but it was really? I mean, that’s what it was. It was a means to an end. Yeah, I mean, standardized tests are, you know, I could say a lot about that. But I think that it was just the, you know, it was very busy. I had committed to myself to getting a 4.0, my whole senior year at USC at the University of Southern California, and to, you know, it’s a good school, and it’s competitive. And I had done pretty well, but I really wanted to meet that goal. So that was kind of my focus instead of the LSAT studying. So I kind of went to the classes and didn’t do much else, which reflected in my LSAT score. 

Suzi: So that’s a wonder like, are any of us doing doing it? Right, right. Like, we’re all just kind of figuring it out as we go along. Um, it’s okay. You You took the LSAT, and apparently, like, maybe your scores weren’t like off the charts. But you got into med school, right?

Keren: I did. Yes. Where did you go to law school. So I went to law school at University of the Pacific McGeorge School of Law. It’s in Sacramento, California. I actually had never heard of this school. I had kind of, I mean, my dream dream school was NYU Law. But my husband, who was my boyfriend at the time of about a year and a half when I finished undergrad was living and working in the Bay Area. And so the idea of going across the country didn’t sound great. Anyway. So I was looking at schools like UC Hastings in San Francisco, and I wanted to kind of go close to him, but not directly to him because that was like I’m a I’m an, you know, young, powerful woman, and I’m not going to chase the boy move. 

Suzi: I’m not staying on causing him. Right.

Keren: Right. So I actually, right, of course not. I mean, I joke that, you know, in the end, it worked out because he’s my husband, but wouldn’t have been the same story if it didn’t work out. So he I heard about McGeorge from like a mailer that I got. And I applied to a couple of other schools. And then then the the end, what I really liked about McGeorge was a they gave me some money, so I liked that. Yeah, and B, it was close, but not too close to my husband, my boyfriend at the time. And it had a really highly ranked international law program. Justice Anthony Kennedy was a kind of a visiting professor that did a program in Austria every summer. And that was really appealing to me, because I always wanted to do corporate law. And I thought I wanted to kind of do international corporate law. And so they kind of like the marketing. Got me there. Yeah. They did. Yeah. Yeah.

Suzi: Did you study abroad while you were there? Did you take part in the Austria program?

Keren: I did. Yeah. I went to Austria and then that’s the only program at the other program that really kind of sold me from a marketing standpoint that I considered and didn’t do is Pepperdine law has a really cool study abroad program as well, in London, I think. And then I was considering a joint JD MBA at the time, so Pepperdine had a good a good program for that.

Suzi: Yeah, I actually did a study abroad program through Santa Clara. And they were they did a an international IP program in Munich. So I think that anytime people can like they have the opportunity to take advantage of an international, or like some type of study abroad program, whether it’s an undergrad or even law school, do it. I cannot recommend it enough. Like, it might not be sort of like that traditional, you know, daily grind of being in class, like in law school class, but just the experience and the people that you meet are huge, right? Like that absolutely. makes such a huge difference. So okay, so you went to law school, and I’m sure you loved every minute of it. So let’s just go. Let’s skip it all.

Keren: Skip it all.

Suzi: For to like it never happened. Okay. I like to pretend like it never had right. Okay. So yeah, we’re on the same page there. So look, it never get the result happened. Right. But the three years? Yeah. So you graduated and you’ve got this like fancy certificate? What happens? Like did you go work for a law firm?

Keren: Yes, my story is kind of funny. About six months into law school. I was like, I don’t know that this is what I want to do. I don’t know that these are my people. But I don’t want to drop out because, you know, I’m an overachiever, perfectionist and like many people who go to law school, and I didn’t want to be a law school dropout. So I continued through and then at the end, I told my family, you know, thinking about not taking the bar because if you take the bar gonna be a lawyer, and then I’m gonna wait make up, you know, 1020 years from now saying like, I never wanted to do this. My parents especially we’re kind of like that. It’s not, it’s not really a door, you should close on yourself. Why don’t you just take the bar, and then go from there. So of course, he took the bar and passed the bar, and I became a lawyer. And I graduated in 2009, which they call the last generation of lawyers. Because we were in a very bad recession. There were awful jobs. I mean, a lot of lawyers were working at Starbucks, you know, they weren’t even working as lawyers. So I had interned at a firm between my first and second and my second third year, and then a clerk there after I took the bar. But before I got the results, because in California, it’s four months before we get results. Yeah. And I, they, I mean, they didn’t have they were paying me pennies. And they, they didn’t really have enough business. It was a small corporate firm. And I got a job opportunity for a litigation with a midsize litigation firm here in Orange County. And I just didn’t want to do that. I just didn’t want to do that. litigate. I am not a litigator. I never can be a deal maker, not a deal breaker. I like the negotiation and the positive aspect. And I drafted a PowerPoint presentation to my firm about how they could continue to pay me the peanuts, they were paying me and I would bring basically bring in business to cover my salary and then some and and convinced them to let me continue to work full time for them. Yeah. So go. Well, I started working there. So it was it. It was after you had started working there. i Well, no, it was I was kind of clerking there and a couple of days a week after when we were waiting for bar results. And I basically took the managing partner to lunch and said, This is why I think you should take a chance and let me work for you guys. I know there’s not a lot of business, I’m going to help bring in the business. I’m not going to take a lot of money. This is what I want to do. I don’t have this other job offer. I don’t want it. And they agreed. So I that’s how I started my career.

Suzi: Okay, so that’s really interesting. And I’m sorry for my confusion there about the chain of events. I get this now. But okay, so you’re the first person that I’ve ever spoken with who has done a PowerPoint presentation.

Keren: I actually started this when I was a child, I did a PowerPoint presentation when I tried to convince my parents the car I wanted and so it’s it’s a, it’s my bit of it. Of my bit. 

Suzi: I absolutely love this. Okay, so super cute. So you do this PowerPoint presentation, you get hired there. And this is of course, 2009. We’re deep in our Great Recession. Yes, people are being given boxes of or, you know, to like empty their offices. Out the door, like every place is turning to fat, it’s difficult to get jobs. I knew people in New York who were encouraged to go do pro bono work, right? Like, okay, well, I’m giving you a first year salary, like six figure salary, we’ll do half that and you just go do it, go do it. Go do something like we’re gonna try to pay you to just not do something else for a while. So that’s, that’s, um, that’s really interesting. So how long were you at that firm? 

Keren: So I was at that firm for almost five years. And it was a learning experience was a small firm, I was the only female attorney. I baked for a while it was literally three partners, and I was the only Associate Attorney plus some support staff. And then they hired people on and at the time, it was awful, like no resources, no support, figuring things out, I wouldn’t I was one year into my practice, and any attorney knows that we don’t know squat for four or five years. And I had to I had to take a phone call by myself regarding a trademark issue, like a trademark conflict issue with the General Counsel of a multibillion dollar sports company. And I just thought, I don’t even know how to BS my way through this. Like he’s going to know I don’t know anything. And in hindsight, it was actually amazing because when I compare it to some of my peers who went to midsize and big law firms, they had none of the i By the time I was a third year attorney, I had taken a company public from start to finish by myself. I had you know, done a lot of complete negotiate, you know, contract negotiation, money raising things that young associates typically don’t even touch. So at the time, it felt like crazy imposter syndrome and a horrible experience, but then, in the end because of kind of this weird path that my life took, and I went into business for myself that I had all this experience that I never would have had if I hadn’t worked for a firm like that.

Suzi: Okay, so this is amazing. And I love this because, you know, I think back to my younger days out of law school, I had some friends who are at pretty big firms, and they were telling about telling me all about this document review that they did. But that was all they did, right? And then like, a couple of years later, I’m like, okay, no. Are you taking on more cases? Well, no, they have me on document review. Like, how much are you getting paid to review? Doc? Doc, I don’t even understand why this is happening. Like this makes no sense. But this is fascinating, because I’ve looked at those people. And guess what? They’re still in those big farms. Right? Your story’s a little different here. And I think this is what’s going to be a really cool transition. You were able to have some, you might not realize it at the time. But you know, looking back, you’re like, dang, I had some good experience, right, like, getting to speak with that. The general counsel on trips. I mean, if anything that’s like, you know, kind of getting you’re getting very, very getting a lot of experience very quickly. So how do you think that all of that really helped you start ultimately not your fault, not your father’s lawyer?

Keren: Yeah. So I think, to be honest, I never expected to go out into business on my own. I’m actually a child of entrepreneurs. So it’s not that crazy when you know, the story, but I was like, I’m a corporate ladder climber. I’m like, I love the extrinsic motivation and the attaboys. 

Suzi: And, you know, like working for other people being going above and beyond the checks that come Yoli

Keren: Yes. And not your father’s lawyer. No, totally. And not your father’s lawyer. Actually, never it started as a blog. So basically, as part of my business development program for my firm is, I got them I built their I literally, I don’t know anything about websites, I built their website from scratch, I created a LinkedIn presents a Twitter presence, you know, I got them on social media when they were kind of like, nobody likes social media. And you’re like, well, it’s going that way. And so I and I drafted new weekly newsletters that we’d send out to the clients, but then I would put them on this blog that was called not your father’s lawyer, because one of the big differences between me and obviously like, I’m, I’m a millennial, I’m an older millennial, but I’m a millennial, and they are not. And I saw the excitement of like LegalZoom was really just up and coming then and, and I kept telling them, like, there’s so much that we could do that. LegalZoom does, like all the flat fee worked for our small clients, and they were like, people don’t want that. That’s not how my, the managing partner, literally when I said we need a website, like a real legitimate website, and he said, Nobody finds a corporate lawyer on the internet. And I said, first of all, that’s factually inaccurate. But also, just think about a relationship. You know, somebody’s if we get most of our business from referrals, and I say to you, oh, I know, I have a great corporate firm. And I tell you, what are you going to do, you’re going to look them up online. And if they’re not online, they don’t feel legitimate. So I was focused on building this kind of internet presence for the on top of my billable hours. On top of all the work, I was just, I did this on my own time, because I believed in it. And I guess, somewhere in me thought I would kind of do it as part of my growth plan with the firm. But it became apparent to me very early on that I was not interested in like a partner track at this firm. This is not where I needed to be at the forefront, not like kind of running the race at the back where all the other firms have kind of caught up with technology, and we didn’t. So it started as a blog. And then I left the firm when I had my daughter when I when she was one years old, one year old, I left the firm, because it law is inherently not really a mommy friendly career as as a rule right now. And it became very difficult and I I was really passionate about being successful. But I had I was kind of stuck in these hours and I had this baby I had to learn how to take care of so I left and I actually went into an a big commercial real estate company. And it was a much more family friendly environment. I had like a much better experience with like my pregnancy and maternity leave at that firm with my second child. And all that time. I still kept getting because I had been doing all this kind of business development people started coming to me. Can you do this for me? Can you do that for me? And some of it I would refer back to my old firm or to one of them. I have a colleague that worked with me that I was close to and he moved to a different firms. I referred a lot of business to him, but some of it was like they can’t afford a law firm there. It’s easy work. It’s work I can do in my sleep I had done it for years, like trademark filings, setting up entities, drafting contracts, negotiating contracts, reviewing contracts. So I kind of started taking it on the side just for friends and family while I was like growing into the senior manager role in this company. And then, and being a mom of two, and this is an aside, but actually a business partner and another business too. So it’s not your father’s lawyer as a full time business actually came out of like, something had to give, and I have to give something up. And I actually was going to drop all these side hustles. And my husband was like, Are you crazy, like, this is your opportunity to build your own thing and to have that control and my husband travels internationally a lot for work. And so there’s a lot of, you know, coordination as a mother that I needed. I needed some flexibility. He works in the tech industry. So there’s like so much more flexibility for him than for me. But when he’s out in Singapore, obviously, you can’t do the school pickups and all of that.

Suzi: Let’s take a quick pause for message from my sponsor, prominent practice.

Ad: Are you thinking about a career transition from big law or partnership to a solo practice selling your practice, or maybe you’re launching a project unrelated to law, whatever the reason for your transition, you’ll need support along the way, enter prominent practice and executive consulting and marketing firms specializing in branding, positioning and reputation management for transitioning attorneys founded by a female entrepreneur who spent a decade building smart digital platforms for thought leaders before pivoting to focus on high end service providers who were preparing for successions, mergers and acquisition events in their businesses. If you’re thinking about making a big business move, don’t risk losing the ability to leverage the reputation you’ve spent your career building, let prominent practice be your guide, visit prominent practice.com/bliss for an exclusive introduction.

Keren: I think a lot of parents especially that are professionals deal with this. It’s just not talked about that much. But I know I’m not the only one that I really struggle. I’m I am not cut out to be a stay at home mom, I never will be I couldn’t be i All of my friends that I’ve grown up with are and they’re wonderful. And they’re I honestly, I think that I’m incredibly more selfish than they are because I care very much about my career. I’m very ambitious. But I really straddle both equally, and I and I believe that you can be ambitious and successful without committing to these ungodly hours and this kind of like butt in chair mentality, right? Like, oh, no, we have to be at our desk for 12 hours a day, because that makes us look like we work hard. So it became more and more apparent, especially when I had like a toddler and a baby, that if I wanted that version of success, I was going to have to build it myself. And it wasn’t going to come in a traditional corporate role. And I joke because I took the two most old school industries, right law and commercial real estate, like there’s no more maybe accounting is the finance and accounting. It’s the only other old school one with the hours and the kind of hustle and like the busyness is glorified, and it just wasn’t going to work for me long term.

Suzi: Yeah, I mean, and that is just considering but in seat time for built for billable work, right. Like think about the expectations that a lot of these firms have for business development after work, right? They’re like, No, you need to go to the networking event, right, or the golf course this weekend. And you’re thinking, I want to go to recital, I want to, I want to get my child to soccer practice. So you said that this is not going to work for me. I’m going to create something that that does. Yeah. So let me ask you, do you think so this is kind of something I’m getting from you. I feel like you are an entrepreneur slash business person who happens to have a lot.

Keren: Yeah, I think that’s a perfect, a perfect description. But the truth is, Suzy, I did not realize that about myself until the last couple of years. Because in my mind, I was not a business person. I was not an entrepreneur, like I like certainty and stability, and I want to see what’s coming down the road. And I never realized that and I’m sure some of it is inherent obviously, as a child of entrepreneurs like some some of it’s probably in my blood, but I didn’t really identify that way until I was kind of forced to choose and I tell people it felt like fate. led to me to accept that I wasn’t going to find success the way I wanted to, in the traditional corporate setting. And today now, like, almost three years removed from the corporate world, I would never go back, I couldn’t go back. So it takes some time. But at the time, it felt like a failure. Like I was admitting to myself that I wasn’t going to be able to be and, and there was a lot of pressure on me too, from friends and peers that were kind of like Keren can do it all. She’s a mom, she’s a lawyer, she’s, you know, she’s career, her careers growing. And I kinda was like, Yeah, this house of cards is gonna fall any minute. And now not, I’m not just letting myself down. I’m letting all these other people down. Like, if I can’t do it, can anybody and so that felt like, kind of a had to come to terms with success doesn’t have to be in that traditional picture that I always thought it would be?

Suzi: Yeah, I mean, at the end of the day, what is certain and what is stable? Totally. I mean, if anything, look at 2008 2009 and 2020.

Keren: Absolutely, absolutely.

Suzi: Right. So, you he’s been, you’ve had your own practice for three years.

Keren: Can you tell me a little time for three years? Yeah, well, I’m full time, full time for three years. But I mean, I’ve been running this practice for seven years, for seven years.

Suzi: So what is your practice look like? And how are you? How are you? Balancing? Right? Like, yeah, you leave the corporate world or you leave, you know, a traditional traditional law firm, but you’re still running a practice, which comes with its own? You know, its own challenges, right? In a paycheck every two weeks. Yeah, to make, you have sometimes you have to make decisions on your own. There’s no, you know, partner, you know, above a partner or above a partner, there’s no like chain of command you have to go through. It’s like, okay, if Keren wants something done, boom, new policy implemented. But is that good? Right? So how is this working for you? 

Keren: I want to hear I think it’s a great question. And, and to be honest, I think that there are obviously pros and cons to it. And there are what I always tell people like when you are thinking about it in your own version, in your own world, you have to take in the nuances of your personality into it too. So I might be better or worse at certain aspects of this, of running a law firm then somebody else could be. And so the paycheck part was definitely scary for me. But and I think this is really important to talk about openly, because especially when it comes to entrepreneurship, it’s like very, like, sexy, like, just make the leap. And I was not that person, I was like, I’m going to make a year plan before this is my date, one year out that I’m going to put my notice in this is how much I want save, I had a partner that makes a good living, so we can make the decision together. So I am very much not the like, jump and figure it out later kind of person. And I don’t think a lot of lawyers are we tend to be risk averse as a group of people. But I do think that that’s this kind of piece of like, especially what you kind of see on social media of like entrepreneurship, it’s like I, I am this overnight success, and it’s not how it works, and most of them are liars. And the few that are true, there was a lot of hustle that happened before, it’s very rarely an actual overnight success. So part of it was like making financial plans for myself that made me feel comfortable to be able to leave, which was really important to me. And part of it was obviously because I had a partner making the decisions together about what this would look like what works for our family. And then a lot of it was learning on the job, right? So definitely not having the resources, quote, unquote, in house when I’m working and I’m a sole practitioner, so it’s me. And I’ve learned to really cultivate the relationships I have in the law with peers and mentors to be able to get feedback were needed. And that’s, I think, really important, especially when you work for yourself. And then a lot of it is the business running pieces that I actually really like that’s I’m an operations person. So this is kind of my sweet smile was like running the business more than I like practicing law. So the you know, the the marketing and the and the operations and the kind of accounting and stuff all of that kind of feels natural to me, but it does get overwhelming and I’m actually like, literally in the midst of kind of a reworking of how I spend my time because I have a lot of plans for the business but I’m too busy working in the business to work on the business. So I I think I’m like a big proponent of systems and processes and plans. So and sticking to them where you can, you know, because I all of 2021 was going to be this year of all these things that I’m working on. And none of that has gotten any worse.

Suzi: So excited. 2019 and 20. Right, we were we were also excited.

Keren: Yes, so many plans.

Suzi: I know, so many plans, and something just, you know, kind of crashed and burned. Yeah, I look at my practice, I do trademark law as well, I look at it as kind of having three pillars, right kind of that administrative, the actual providing your legal services, and the business development. And so it’s like trying to kind of get all of those little pieces to work together. And you’re You mean, really you need to revisit where you’re putting your time and where it makes sense. You know, fairly regularly, I would say probably at least quarterly, have you considered expanding your practice? Because it sounds like you’re giving this big smile? It sounds like you know, you there are certain aspects of your your law firm that you love. And I think it’s really interesting that you’re like, I kind of liked the operations may be more than sitting down and practicing law. I am very similar. I’m very similar. So what are you? What are your thoughts on possibly hiring in sort of in that space that you maybe don’t love quite as much have you considered anything like that?

Keren: I’ve considered it a lot. I, you know, part of the unique model that I built is makes it hard to expand, it wasn’t really meant to be a scalable business, I didn’t see this as like, I’m gonna build a law firm. And to this day, if you tell me, you know, I have this other business that I’m involved in. It’s nothing to do with the law, and it’s much more scalable. And that I’m less passionate about the actual inner workings of that business and the industry. But I am happy to grow that business. And I always tell people, like, I don’t want to manage a law firm, I don’t want to manage lawyers, like, I like what I’m doing, I’m very picky about the clients I work with. I love my clients, which is so funny, because I thought I hated law for so many years. And it was like, No, I just hated, not being able to control who I was working with and what I was doing. And I love my clients, and I love the people I serve. And I’m super passionate about access to information, I primarily, overwhelmingly work with women business owners, that I’m really passionate about getting the information to them, getting them access to the things they need to start and run and maintain their businesses and grow their businesses. And a lot of that I do for free, you know, because I’m passionate about it. So I’ve spent a good two years really kind of planning out the different versions of this and actually have a call at the end of this month about some potential support. But I don’t know, you know, I’ve kind of it’s like, it’s, I built this as a little niche. And it’s, it was always meant to stay that way. And I have I have another business idea that I’ve been wanting to work on. It’s also outside the law. So I see my particular business, as a niche business that will not grow much bigger than me can’t grow much bigger because I am maxed out.

Suzi: That’s okay. Right. Like, I feel like there’s a lot of pressure out there in terms of Oh, scaling, like when she gets this point, oh, to irritate a $50,000 firm. Okay, let’s get you to 500 Just because you just have a million, right, um, you know, what, not all of us really care about that.

Keren: Right? Like, and I think, yeah, go, you’re I was saying, I think I think that there’s, I mean, don’t get me wrong, I care about money. And I want to make lots of it. But I have my feet in a few different things. And I really want to be cognizant I have, you know, the other business, I have a business partner, and we have a team of people that work for us. And so I have a priority to deal with that and help that grow more than this, because I am the only person here. And so I do think that there is but that goes back to what we were talking about earlier that you have the ability to kind of know your personality and what it is that you want and how you want to grow, and then do whatever works for you. Because, you know, I know quite a few people who are running multimillion dollar law firms and you know, they’ve got a pretty good thing going and if that’s what you want to do, and that’s what you don’t want to do. And I know quite a few people who are running part time, especially moms that are kind of running part time niche little consulting or legal services, businesses that you know that it’s just to kind of keep their minds sharp and talk to adults with it. And, and that’s good too.

Suzi: Yeah, I think that’s what we kind of forget. And we we get I do, you know, kind of gripe about and you know, complain about the the law but at the same time, like, the career itself is very flexible in terms of what you can do like what can be possible for you, right. And it’s really beautiful thing that you have these women like that you’re talking about, and also with you having a family and a few other businesses, but these women that you know, that have children, and they’re there, they’re still maintaining some element of a law firm or practice or consulting, just to kind of keep their mind sharp, like, how many careers can you really do that?

Keren: I agree. And I think that it is, you know, it’s funny, because especially in that great recession, because they always say kind of like a law degree, you can do anything with a law degree. And I just was laughing as we struggled to, you know, find jobs. And we’re like, you can’t, nobody wants to hire you at McDonald’s, because they’re like, that person’s not going to stay. And the firm’s don’t have a role for you. But the truth is short of economic crisis, you can do anything with a law degree. And I think that what’s great is that it really teaches us to be agile with our minds. And just to think critically, and that can be applied. I mean, I know I literally worked in commercial real estate with apps, you know, I went into a management role with no experience in commercial real estate. And the the industry itself is totally learnable. And the skills that we have the relationship management, the, you know, critical thinking, the breaking down complex concepts into pieces of facts, you know, that is a skill that is very useful in very, in a lot of different environments. And I think that that can kind of give people the sense of confidence that they can do, whatever, you know that this path can take them in a number of different ways. 

Suzi: So this is such great information. And one thing that you mentioned a minute ago, I think, is very interesting, and it’s a common thread that I’ve seen a lot is the importance of working with people that we love to serve. And you know, that having proper kind of client vetting processes at the beginning, I think are so key. And it really, I mean, honestly changed a whole lot for me, when I started doing that more, and I don’t know if it was because I was able to become more selective or exactly what it was, but I’m getting to work with and serve, the people that you love, can help us sleep a lot better at night. Right, so let me ask what are like? Do you have a vetting process? Or are there certain key things that you’re kind of looking for whenever you are interviewing prospective client?

Keren: It’s a great question. I think that like many people at the beginning, it was kind of like, whatever comes in the door. And I was really fortunate to build my business from honestly, like, from social media, and it was kind of a friend, you know, friends and friends of friends, and then strangers through social media, but that there was this, you know, they were in groups, online groups of women entrepreneurs, and other kind of like minded people. So there was already kind of a natural vetting for me. And then I do think that and a lot of my clients now today are referrals from existing clients. So I have again, that kind of, they will vet these people for me, then I feel good. Yeah. But I think that some of it is kind of a learning process as you go, you know, we can’t just like you know, an interview in the corporate world, you can’t know everything about a person or their needs or who they are and what they need and want as you go, but I do you think that especially if you hold like a very specific niche, like you or I do that you do this over and over again, you can really get a sense of a person in that initial consultation. And for me, the way that I view my role as a lawyer is obviously, you know, a professional who is going to provide services but what was really different for me, how I how I operate this practice versus the way that the firm I worked for operated, was that kind of traditional, like, we know what we’re talking about, we’re telling you, it’s very condescending, I mean, my the managing partner at my old firm would like to swear at and hang up on his clients and you know, that’s not the way I want to run my business. And so I’ve really view Yeah, I really view it as a customer service industry, you know, and that my job isn’t to tell you what you need, it’s to listen to what you need, and then fit what you need with the law, right and make it work. And so and obviously, this is unique and like a transactional environment, it’s doesn’t work that way in litigation, because usually you have to tell them like this is, this is how it is. And so in a transactional environment, it’s a lot easier to do that. But I really think that because of you as a service oriented business, that more than what they’re doing, or how much they can pay, or whatever, it’s do we connect? Do they trust me? Do we feel like, is it somebody I can talk to like a friend. And that is, in my opinion, Paramount when you’re talking about a relationship with a professional services provider, because you have to trust them, they rely on us. And I always joke, especially in the transactional world, like, I joke that like, you wouldn’t know if I screwed it up anyway, because 99 times out of 100, this contract is never going to become an issue, you know. And so they have to trust that I actually know what I’m doing. And it’s my job to sell myself to them more than it’s their job to sell themselves to me.

Suzi: I love that. So let me ask, I’m curious, what is next for you?

Keren: I have a lot of plans. So I mean, not your father’s lawyer, like I said, it’s kind of operating at max capacity. And what’s next for that is honestly to, to build a little bit more balance in it. Because I have a hard time saying no to people, like I said, I love my clients, and I love serving the people that I serve. But it’s it’s been a little too much the last year that just constant working overload. So finding a little more balance there. The other business I work in is a very specific business. It’s digital marketing in the waste industry. And it’s growing a lot. But we’re growing a team. And that’s the part that I really love. Like I said, you know, me at the operations of that I manage all the operations in that business. So I’m excited to continue to grow that. And then I have some other ventures, some are kind of offshoots of the lie. Do you have a template shop that I’m working on building out a little better and some potential courses and kind of jumping on that digital train, the digital product train? And then I have a Yeah, and I have an E commerce business that I’m hoping to get to work on.

Suzi: Well, you’ve got a lot going on. I love it. Yeah, exciting. So where can people find you?

Keren: Now you can find me primarily on Instagram at not your father’s lawyer. And I’m on Facebook also at not your father’s lawyer. And LinkedIn is just my name Keren disorder, which is spelled really funny.

Suzi: Yes. You know what, and these will be linked in the show notes. 

Keren: Yes. So I figured don’t try to spell it. Yeah.

Suzi: I thought about it. I was like, Okay, no, we’re just going to burst kind of into there. So this has been a really fun conversation. I’ve loved learning about Keren and all the different facets of you. I think that you are bringing a really interesting perspective that I haven’t really spoken with anyone about so I just want to thank you so much for hanging out with me today.

Keren: Yeah, thank you so much.

Suzi: This is great. Thank you so much for hanging out with us today on legally bliss conversations. If you love this episode, and you want to hang out with other inspiring and light gold female attorneys, be sure to join the legally bliss community at legally blessed.com And be sure to follow me on Instagram at Susie Hixon. See you next time.

Providing Innovative Legal Services for Entrepreneurs with Keren de Zwart

keren de zwart

Mindset, Podcast