By René Paula
Lawyers are usually specialists. Our profession is so broad, and so complex, that most people graduating from law school get drawn into a specialty early on and stay within that narrow topic most, if not all, of their careers. I was lucky enough to start working for a law firm that emphasized the opposite: learning how to do everything. There I learned to be a generalist, and it’s an approach we continue with our legal staff here at ZX Ventures.
Whether it’s by nature or training, lawyers tend to be conservative people who like to learn everything about a topic before reasoning their way to an answer. At ZX Ventures, we operate a bit differently. I like to find people who are business-oriented, especially those with a background in consumer products, and who can focus on getting things done quickly. Specifically, our attorneys are comfortable operating with incomplete information, can handle any business issue that arises, and can work in the “mosh pit” that is ZX Ventures.
The first key to what sets our attorneys apart is that they are, or learn to be, comfortable with ambiguity. As lawyers, we are trained to solve problems, often through analyzing mountains of data and research. Here at ZX Ventures, though, we operate at such a pace that making decisions with ambiguous information is usually necessary. Of course, details are properly attended to, and decisions aren’t reached recklessly, but we are adept at making quick judgment calls based on solid experience with business operations. This is aided by bringing on attorneys who have worked in similar businesses, particularly with physical products. The physical world is messy—products have expiration dates; they must be produced, packaged, stored, and shipped; and businesses must stock and distribute them safely. We understand the headaches of consumer products and know how to avoid most problems in advance.
Secondly, our attorneys are knowledgeable and flexible enough to handle a huge range of diverse topics. Instead of being specialized, as other attorneys tend to be, our lawyers cover all business units within their market. We handle mergers and acquisitions, product and service development and problem-solving, marketing, and data gathering and storage—if it touches on physical or e-commerce, we do it. This type of work is for adrenaline junkies who can remember reams of information!
Finally, we work in a different space than most attorneys. We don’t have offices with solid doors that we can close when we need to focus on writing a contract or hammering out a negotiation. We work in the same open floor plan as all other ZX Ventures employees. Our team members have to be extroverted and energized by constant human contact. Interruptions aren’t just a daily occurrence; they happen every hour. Everyone has a “quick question” that turns into a half-hour conversation, so multitasking and quick switching are essential work skills.
At ZX Ventures, we’re unique, or, as I like to say, black sheep. But the advantages of our working style are amazing: we get to grow constantly, we never get bored, and we have the confidence that comes from knowing that we actually can handle anything that comes up. It’s a great feeling.