VENTEUR spoke with Lindsay Lieberman, Founder of Lindsay Lieberman, LLC, about her entrepreneurial journey. Lindsay Lieberman, LLC is a legal services firm and consulting company specializing in sexual misconduct, sex crimes, and cyber sexual abuse issues. The firm offers clients innovative and proactive approaches to address these pervasive problems. In addition to providing legal representation, the firm develops clear policies and procedures to prevent sexual misconduct and abuse, offers educational presentations and awareness training, advises educational institutions on Title IX compliance, and conducts investigations.
Before starting her firm, Lieberman was a senior attorney at a leading sexual privacy law firm in New York City and a sex crimes prosecutor in Brooklyn, New York. In addition, she is an adjunct professor at Salve Regina University and has published articles on sexual abuse and gender-based violence.
A founder's journey is one of self-discovery. So what have you learned about yourself while building your law firm?
Since starting my firm, I've come to appreciate that I am innovative and have creative ideas on how to help others. This realization has allowed me to build a thriving business and reach more people.
For instance, I have represented victims of sex crimes for years and understand the importance of advocating for victims in the wake of these traumatic events.
I also began to realize that there is an opportunity to get ahead of these abuses and prevent sex crimes from happening in the first place. As a result, I decided to focus a significant portion of my time on educating and providing tailored resources to companies, institutions, and schools, with the practical intention of preventing and mitigating abuse.
Starting a law firm is often a lonely journey. Have you experienced loneliness as the founder of your firm?
Yes, like a lot of entrepreneurs, I've felt lonely. But I have learned that the best way to counter loneliness is to surround myself with supportive, encouraging, and like-minded people. I partner with other female founders, and we troubleshoot and support one another in our businesses. While I specialize in legal services, other members of my founders' tribe specialize in marketing, social media, and business development. These women have so much to offer to help me continue to grow my firm. Teaming up has allowed the work to feel more collaborative and fun.
What role has intuition played in the success of your law firm, and why do you think this is the case?
Intuition has played a considerable role in the success of my firm. I have confidence in my decisions from years of experience in this space. I started my career as a sex crimes prosecutor in one of the country's busiest district attorney's offices. Then, I became a senior attorney at a leading sexual privacy law firm. I've worked on hundreds of cases for victims of sex abuse and cybersex abuse. All this experience has taught me to trust my instincts and make sound decisions for my firm and clients.
The Psychological Warfare
Lawyers who start firms generally sleep less, work more, and let their health slip initially. This combination, combined with loneliness, often results in insecurity, self-esteem issues, and low self-worth. Have you experienced any of these issues while growing your firm?
I have had two little girls in the past three years, so I have been tired! But becoming a mom while starting a firm has made me a time-management beast. I must set strict boundaries and be clear and intentional about how I spend my time. I block off my calendar for me, work, and family time.
Also, I perform best when I feel well, so I make it a point to care for myself physically and emotionally. I exercise, eat well (and often), treat myself to regular massage therapy, and sleep so I can be and do my best for my family and clients.
What are three mistakes you made early on as a founder, what did you learn from them, and how can others avoid these mistakes?
Three lessons I learned from the early mistakes I made when starting the firm were:
- Not surrounding myself with a supportive tribe.
- Not implementing strict boundaries around my time and blocking out my calendar.
- Not asking for help when I need it. Whether support comes from a family member, colleague, or friend, no one can do everything alone, even innovative and strong founders.
Other entrepreneurs can avoid these mistakes by talking to other founders as early as possible and learning from their experiences. All law firm founders and aspiring law firm founders should actively seek guidance and advice from those who have come before them. In addition, attorney founders should join bar associations and networking groups and connect with other lawyers who know what it takes.
What are three things you see that law firm founders often overlook, and how can others be aware of these from the beginning?
1. Underestimating What the Practice of Law Entails
Some law firm founders may need to realize that they're not just going to be practicing law. They'll be running a business and making all the decisions that come along with that. They'll need to consider accounting, marketing, and sales and take care of all the other aspects of keeping a firm operating—on top of client work.
2. How Important Building a Network of Professionals Is for Your Career
Law firm founders may overlook how important it is to build a network—not just for obtaining clients through referrals but also for sharing ideas, inspiration, troubleshooting, and growing a business.
3. Not Knowing the Value of the Services and Products That the Law Firm Founders Have To Offer
Founders might sell themselves short early on and need to recognize how much their services and products are required. For instance, law firm founders may feel too much competition in the space and need to remember each founder is unique and has something special to offer. It is important to remember that each firm owner brings their ideas, approach, personality, and expertise.
What is one seemingly insurmountable obstacle you've faced as a founder, and how did you overcome it?
Finding the confidence and drive to start practice was a huge challenge. However, I overcame it with the support and love of the people around me, coupled with my passion to prevent and mitigate sexual abuse on a larger scale. I had always felt a strong calling to help survivors of sex crimes, so I knew my career would keep me established in this space. I benefited a lot from my experiences honing my skills at my previous jobs, but in hindsight, I wish I had started this practice earlier. If I had, I could have brought my skills and expertise to bear sooner and for a larger group of clients and stakeholders.
How can newer law firm founders develop a healthy work-life balance even when it seems impossible?
Boundaries are paramount. You need to have clear boundaries and protect your time. With emails on phones and work available at the touch of a button, it's too easy to work all the time. When I first started, I found myself working while I was with my kids, cooking dinner, eating, walking from my house to the car, and even lying in bed! I've since learned to keep my work contained to a particular block of time each day and then put it away. I highly recommend all law firm founders do the same. A life outside work is crucial to your well-being and ability to better serve your clients.
What three key pieces of advice would have made your firm-building journey more manageable, and why?
1. Joining Associations and Connecting With Like-Minded Law Firm Founders
Join groups of like-minded founders early to collaborate, commiserate, and get support. Join bar associations and networking groups and get the word out about your practice as early as possible. It's always early enough to start marketing your practice.
2. Figure Out Which Software You Need, and Purchase Them From the Beginning
Get all the business software you need to operate a firm at the start. For example, you don't want to sign up for your first client but have yet to have a way for them to pay you!
3. Practice Good Time Management
Implement strict schedules and guard your time. Block off time for business development, marketing, accounting, and client work. Don't forget time for yourself, your family, your friends, and the things outside of work that fulfill you.
Is there anything else you would like to share?
I'm thrilled to be doing this important and impactful work. There's a huge opportunity to help people, companies, and organizations get ahead of sexual misconduct and prevent it. I make schools, companies, and organizations safer through education, ongoing discussions, workshops, and training. The work is gratifying. I think that's the number one key to success for any founder—love what you do for a living.