Attorney, CEO & Founder of Esq. Me, Inc.
Describe your legal background and your current role today.
I’m a former litigator in New York City, having worked in a range of areas of the law, from complex federal commercial trials to medical malpractice cases. In 2017, I branched off to become a solo practitioner and formed Kaushik Law, PLLC, to focus on startups, technology, IP and business law, while growing and scaling Esq.Me.
Currently, I am the CEO and Founder of Esq.Me, Inc., a legal technology startup that brings BigLaw resources to small law firms and solo practitioners by giving lawyers a document marketplace to buy and sell their own legal documents with others across the nation. Our platform also affiliates with other legal service companies, such as on-demand drafting, legal research, and voice-automated billing software, to help them practice effectively and efficiently.
What three words would you use to describe your role?
Innovative. Leading. Challenging (in a good way! I’m constantly being challenged in my limits, knowledge and creativity, so it helps me step back, reflect and grow).
What inspired you to pursue your current career?
I wanted to help lawyers like myself, who were young and eager, but didn’t know where to start with practicing law on their own. I figured if I had a place to get cost-effective and fast resources like other attorneys’ documents, templates, memos, legal research and drafting help, I would be able to practice effectively. EsqMe’s formal marketplace is unique to the way we practice because it encourages a collaborative approach to practicing law, instead of the individualistic and highly competitive manner of practicing that most lawyers are used to. I was inspired to bring people together in the digital age where everything can be done faster and better together.
The way we practiced law five (5) years ago was still very pen and paper, so it was time to introduce technology in a way that completely alters and revolutionizes the way we practice.
How has your legal education/background shaped the way you perform in your current career?
It’s given me the understanding that there is no real right or wrong answer or direction. As a litigator, my job was to take a rule or law and see how we could advance it or argue it from a different perspective for our client. The freedom to create and analyze beyond the confounds of the actual words of the law helped me do the same for my vision of EsqMe and its expansion. Having vision is critical to being an entrepreneur.
What lessons learned or unexpected challenges did you face in your current role?
The two most important challenges I’ve faced in being a legal technology entrepreneur were: (1) picking a business partner and (2) facing gender bias in the process of raising capital.
When picking a business partner I think it’s important to find out what the other person is envisioning on their own for the business before sitting down and discussing your combined views. This helps ensure that you both want similar goals for the business, its growth and expansion, and your selves as founders. I’d recommend doing individual “blind” business plans and then comparing them with each other to make a merged plan that incorporates the best of both ideas.
I faced some interesting gender biases while working for law firms in NYC during my litigation career, and I was hoping for the entrepreneur world to be different. Unfortunately, it still persists in a way that we can’t necessarily fix over night. I’ve had an investor explicitly tell me they weren’t interested in investing in EsqMe because the founder was female. This was challenging and disappointing, but it inspired me to write an article called Strong Grace: Overturning Professional Gender Bias in 2017, and to starting speaking on gender bias correction in legal technology and law.
What advice would you give to those career pivoting or pursuing a career beyond the practice of law?
Be bold and try it before someone else makes your dream theirs. I spoke about this exact question at MIT’s Executive MBA entrepreneurship group and the main thing I imparted was that if you’re going from a highly regulated professional industry like law or finance, the hardest thing will be the cultural change to becoming an entrepreneur. Shifting from competitive and risk-averse to collaborative and risk-centric is tough, but required.
What is your personal motto, mantra or favorite quote?
Fear stops us from doing a lot, so once I realized failing is a construct of my own mind, I became the entrepreneur I envisioned. I believe that “outside of your comfort zone is where the magic happens.”
Somya Kaushik is the CEO & Founder of Esq. Me, Inc. She also serves as the Director of Education Outreach and Writer/Editor for Commit2Change. To learn more about Somya and her company, check out Esq. Me, Inc.