Business Legal Management Spotlight
Cameron Harman: All right, Zackary Williamson, thank you so much for taking the time to meet with me. I’m really excited to learn more about your background, experience, and get to know you better. Can you tell me about your educational background and how it has contributed to your career as the CEO of Business Legal Management?
Zackary Williamson: Absolutely. After graduating high school, I attended Brigham Young University, initially planning to become a clinical psychologist. I was fascinated by understanding human behavior, motivation, and philosophical debates on human nature. However, I decided to pivot into business due to the amount of schooling required and the potential earnings in psychology. I earned my degree from the Marriott School of Management at Brigham Young University, majoring in organizational behavior and human resources. This allowed me to apply my love for psychology to a business environment.
Afterward, I worked for a software company in the Lehi, Utah area, Silicon Slopes, where I gained experience in project management. This sparked my interest in pivoting my career towards project and product management to deliver value to customers and work in a more customer-facing role. To achieve this, I returned to Brigham Young University to gain a deeper understanding of business, finance, marketing, and customer experience.
Zackary Williamson: I pursued my MBA with a focus on project management and entrepreneurship because I felt that understanding small businesses was crucial for entering the software world. I wanted to learn how to start, run a company, and provide products or services to customers when you’re not a giant like Microsoft or Apple.
Through my MBA, I landed internships, participated in competitions, and gained valuable experience. One of my internships was with Becton Dickinson as a Global Product Marketing Manager for one of their healthcare products—a midline catheter. I learned about untested markets, and even in established industries like healthcare, there’s still room for innovation and new products or services.
This experience of identifying opportunities in established industries led me to Business Legal Management, which operates in the legal world. As we know, there’s a lot of money in law, and businesses spend a lot on legal services.
Zackary Williamson: I think I could have done well as a lawyer, but I saw an opportunity in the established legal industry. Business Legal Management aims to create a mid-level legal solution, bridging the gap between services like LegalZoom and traditional law firms. We believe there’s a blue ocean of customers who need more than downloadable templates but aren’t ready to spend huge amounts on high-end lawyers.
My journey from an HR business partner in the software world to the CEO of a legal tech company might seem unusual, but looking back, I picked up valuable skills along the way. I’m grateful for the mentors I’ve had in my career and life who helped me reach this position.
Cameron Harman: I’d like to dig deeper into your experience of becoming the CEO of this company. How did the opportunity present itself, and what steps or actions did you take to secure the role?
Zackary Williamson: In a collegiate setting, there are job fairs or informational interviews where companies present job opportunities. I attended many of those, usually steering towards product management or project management roles. One day, I saw a CEO position advertised, which caught my attention. I attended the informational interview hosted by George Brunt, our chairman.
I’d read enough case studies in the MBA program to recognize the opportunity with Business Legal Management. I noticed that there were few offerings in the middle of the price and value spectrum. Intrigued, I listened intently and thought it seemed like a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.
Over the next five weeks, I emailed and called George regularly with plans and ideas, convincing him that I understood the vision and could contribute to the company’s growth. Despite my unconventional background, I believed I could help turn this side hustle into a real company. The first couple of months were a bit intimidating, as I had to overcome my fear of talking to lawyers and questioning their opinions.
Cameron Harman: It takes a special type to deal with lawyers and legal speak, especially without a legal background. Where do you think your ability to hold your ground and know what you’re talking about comes from? Because you definitely have that.
Zackary Williamson: A few thoughts come to mind. One is the great quote from Socrates: “I may be pretty smart because I know that I know nothing.” I know that I know nothing about law, but I think one of my skills is getting a lot of information, chewing on it for a while, and then understanding what I actually need to know about it. I can take in a lot of information and translate it into what makes sense to me. I categorize it into what I need to know and what I defer to others on. I don’t tell my attorneys how to practice law or what to do.
Point two is that I had to learn that legal is just another part of business, like marketing. It’s just done by slightly more trained professionals. If you think of it like that, it becomes less intimidating. As long as you’re not trying to tell them how to do their job, you can focus on finding ways for the service to solve the customers’ problems. Once I started thinking like that, it made life a whole lot easier. I became less scared to interact with attorneys. They’re great at what they do, and I’m just there to help facilitate them solving our customers’ problems.
Cameron Harman: Your unique perspective is valuable, and it shows a good understanding of business and building a high-quality team with diverse experiences and backgrounds. It’s interesting how Business Legal Management is so different from traditional law firms.
Zackary Williamson: Yeah, it’s about bringing a very old industry into the 21st century. Through the creation of our online platform and integrating project management skills from the software industry into the legal world, we found that the antidote to the biggest problems with legal was actually project management. Some of the biggest concerns people have with lawyers are that they don’t communicate well, talk too long, or don’t get to the point.
So, by integrating project management skills and focusing on communication, we can help bridge that gap and address those concerns. Our goal is to make the legal process more accessible and efficient for our clients while still maintaining the high-quality service they expect from a law firm. This approach allows us to provide an incredible service that stands out in the industry and caters to the needs of our clients in a way that traditional law firms may not.
The old law school adage is, ‘Why say in one word what you can say in two’, but this approach can hinder communication. Another major issue is pricing. Most law firms charge by the hour, and clients don’t know their budget until they receive the bill. This wouldn’t be acceptable in any other aspect of business. The third issue is that the legal industry is still quite old school, and their technology hasn’t advanced much beyond emails.
Cameron Harman: There is so much more potential for growth and modernization in the legal industry.
Zackary Williamson: Exactly, and that’s what we’re trying to do with Business Legal Management. We want to bring the legal industry into the 21st century by using project management skills, providing real-time updates, and utilizing an online platform for better communication. The traditional legal model hasn’t changed in the last years, it’s time for a change. Businesses today need a more efficient and transparent legal service, and that’s what we’re striving to offer. We believe that by modernizing the legal industry and addressing these issues, we can provide a better experience for our clients and help them navigate the complex world of law more effectively.
Cameron Harman: It’s interesting to imagine old school lawyers being dragged into the 21st century, but it’s clear that there’s a need for modernization in the industry.
Zackary Williamson: Absolutely. The traditional legal model is designed to be perfectly inefficient, but by approaching it with a business-minded attitude and integrating project management, we can create a better experience for both our clients and our attorneys. Giving lawyers the chance to have work-life balance and to work on meaningful projects is crucial to getting the best results.
Cameron Harman: It’s been great getting to know you and learning about Business Legal Management. Do you have any closing thoughts?
Zackary Williamson: I’m excited to be part of a growing business and to help solve problems in the business world. It’s important for business leaders not to get too caught up in the details, but to focus on solving problems and adding value. I’m thrilled to be part of Business Legal Management and to bring my skills to the table, even though I don’t have a traditional legal background.
Cameron Harman: Thank you so much for your time, Zack, and for sharing your insights with us.