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Maxine Kozler & Jennifer McGlone of LawChamps: “Embrace Your Customer”

MK: They create businesses that provide utility and value as opposed to chasing trends. As women represent over half the population and the majority of the spending power, they bring their perspective and sensibility to the product and how to present it. LawChamps is the perfect example of this, with co-founder and chief legal officer Jennifer […]

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MK: They create businesses that provide utility and value as opposed to chasing trends. As women represent over half the population and the majority of the spending power, they bring their perspective and sensibility to the product and how to present it.

LawChamps is the perfect example of this, with co-founder and chief legal officer Jennifer McGlone bringing her sensibility and experience to how the consumer is matched with attorneys. What questions are asked, what criteria is needed and how categories are grouped.


As a part of our series about “Why We Need More Women Founders”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Maxi Kozler and Jennifer McGlone.

Maxine Kozler is Co-Managing Director for LDR Ventures and Vice President of Business & Brand Development of LawChamps. She previously led global marketing and PR for brands including: The Beach People, Melissa & Doug Toys and LA LA License. She spent four years in music licensing for EMI Music Publishing. She is an expert specializing in key-influencer acquisition, audience engagement and content marketing for fashion and consumer lifestyle brands. She is a Limited Partner at Belle Capital, which invests exclusively in early stage and emerging female founded and led Companies. She graduated from Boston University School of Communications with a BS degree focusing on Film, Cinema and Video Studies.

Jennifer McGlone brings 20 years of professional experience as legal counsel to Silicon Valley tech. companies — from startups to international market leaders — to launching LawChamps. A native of the San Francisco Bay Area, Jennifer received her B.A. from UC Berkeley and her J.D. from Stanford Law School, on public policy Fellowship studying systemic issues that prevent consumers from fairly accessing the judicial system. She’s excited and energized by the opportunity tech presents to open up the channels of access to legal services for all.

Jennifer and her wife, Dee, met at Stanford and were part of the landmark civil rights litigation, In re Marriage Cases, 43 Cal.4th 757 (Cal. 2004), marrying in 2004 when then-mayor of San Francisco Gavin Newsom began issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples, and then again in 2008 after the California Supreme Court declared access to marriage a fundamental human right, which ultimately led to the United States Supreme Court’s landmark civil rights’ decision Obergefell v. Hodges, 576 U.S. 644 (2015). She has both personal and professional experience with how the legal system changes lives and communities.


Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we dig in, our readers would like to get to know you a bit more. Can you tell us a bit about your “backstory”? What led you to this particular career path?

MK: Spending the first part of my career in the music industry, specifically in publishing and maximizing the intellectual property created by talented artists, prepared me for my work today as a Venture Capital investor and Vice President of Business & Brand Development of LawChamps. When I started my career, my focus was to generate revenue by placing music into films, TV shows and commercials and to keep artists relevant to their existing audience and continuing to build new audiences on behalf of EMI/Capitol Records, Sony, Warner Bros., Beyonce, Jay-Z, Coldplay and classic artists like Sly & the Family Stone and Issac Hayes. I learned not to be a “one hit wonder”, wearing several hats in those industry nascent years on the front lines.

After being asked to review many business plans by friends looking at deals for their celebrity clients, I wrote my first venture capital check to this cool salad cafe called Sweetgreen, which at the time had two locations. Sweetgreen now has over 100 locations and is valued at over 1.6 billion dollars. I kept my eye on the ball on those up-and-comers investing in early stage companies working closely with founders as a mentor. As I continued to bring in professional colleagues to work with these newer companies, we became an investing group, which led to my founding LDR Ventures with my Co-Managing director, Andrew ‘Drew’ Koven. We chose “LDR” as an acronym for: Leader.

Over three years ago, we invested in a company that had a vision to “democratize access to justice” by helping to provide easy to reach and affordable legal representation for the middle class. We led the seed round for this company and in early 2021, LawChamps officially launched. I am proud to be an investor and working inside the company to promote the brand through partnerships and marketing strategies.

JM: When I first went to law school and moved to San Francisco, I’d often go out in the evenings with my father, who is an Irish tenor and pianist. I would be sitting there, listening to my Dad sing, and as soon as people learned I was in law school, I would suddenly be inundated with cocktail napkins with people’s names and numbers. People have legal questions and they simply don’t know how to get help.

I do not know how many times I had to explain, “I do not have your power of attorney because you sign a cocktail napkin; please consult with a licensed lawyer!” I finally decided to do something about those stacks of cocktail napkins: that’s what the LawChamps platform does, connects individuals, families and small business owners with lawyers when they need them, to protect who and what matters most.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began your career?

JM: My best story is really not my story; it’s the story of our attorneys. When the pandemic hit, and we were incubating LawChamps, we started reaching out to the solo and small firm attorneys who would become LawChamps members. Across the board, they were all concerned with how to be of service during tough times.

We started hosting a series of virtual meet ups during which people could ask questions in real time and our attorneys would answer. They explained eviction moratoriums, what it meant to be an essential worker, what a furlough was, how to apply for a PPP loan, and more. We then posted those videos and they took off.

That’s the positive side of tech. in action; it can amplify a message and be used to reach those who are traditionally underserved. With our help and our platforms, those attorneys reached thousands of people, for free, out of the goodness of their hearts.

Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

MK: When I was an intern at a recording studio in college I was sitting at the reception desk in the lobby area and was supposed to check in all the musicians, writers, producers and friends for each session. There was a rapper coming in that day with his crew and we were given a heads up that it might be rowdy. As the group came in, and I checked in each person, we got to the last gentleman and I said, “They saved the best for last, you must be ‘Raw Dog.’” The whole room went silent as this very nice gentleman corrected me sweetly and said, “it’s Ray Dog.” I blushed immediately and sincerely apologized. Thankfully, they moved on to their recording without any further incident.

Since that day, I have worked diligently to make sure that I remember people’s names or don’t make any assumptions unless I am absolutely certain. I am also very kind to anyone making a mistake, especially interns, as I was treated with kindness from many people over my career when I did need to be corrected. Constructive criticism is how each of us learn and grow.

JM: My most vivid memory of a mishap is trying to “film” a spot introducing LawChamps when at home during the pandemic. By “film,” I mean my 12-year-old son pointed a smart phone at me and pressed “record.” After we “filmed” twice, I realized I had forgotten to wear any makeup at all, but the picture held steady, which was a real “win.” We used it.

What I learned from this is that it’s alright to be scrappy and just do what needs to be done as best you can in the moment. That’s start-up life in a nutshell: start with what you have on hand and build from there.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?

MK: My husband, Andrew ‘Drew’ Koven, has been the most powerful ally, cheerleader and mentor I could ever ask for in business. He has been able to identify my strengths and helped me to lean into them faster than I could have seen or done myself. There have been many times over in our company LDR Ventures where he has asked me to do things not based on what I have done in the past but what he felt I was capable of doing.

Is there a particular book that made a significant impact on you? Can you share a story or explain why it resonated with you so much?

MK: All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten written by Robert Fulghum

Nothing has changed in life since we were little. The rules and situations might have gotten more complicated, but the basic principles remain the same.

  • Share everything,
  • Play fair,
  • Don’t hit people,
  • Put things back where you found them,
  • Clean up your own mess,
  • Don’t take things that aren’t yours,
  • Say you’re sorry when you hurt somebody.

Fair Play written by Eve Rodsky

Eve clearly lays out the imbalance of the amount of work that men and women generally do in their relationships and parenting. What comes across clearly is how accepted this imbalance is as the woman just has to take on more responsibilities if she wants or needs to take on more in her professional life. I also noticed these patterns in my own career roles and my actions in them. I do see a huge shift generationally, personally and professionally. The way Eve details the imbalance provides perspective and material to make change in all areas of life. She gives you a choice and helps you to really look at delegating.

JM: One of my favorite novels is Beloved by Toni Morrison, which I read in college at UC Berkeley. It is the only novel that I ever cried over while reading it aloud in class: it is just that powerful. It brilliantly tackles the subject of racism and slavery and renders its horrors tangible for the reader, by embedding those horrors within the family narrative. We all have families and loved ones; we all can imagine how horrific it is when those bonds are broken and twisted. By presenting the Black American experience as the experience of one broken family — the story of a mother who murdered her infant daughter to save her from enslavement, only to be revisited by the daughter’s ghost — it forces the reader to experience and yes, cry over, the legacy of slavery in a very immediate way. As we should.

In our country, so many of us shy away from looking at things that are difficult: for too long, too many of us have told ourselves that our system works and that it is a meritocracy, rather than acknowledging that larger forces, such as the legacy of slavery and racism, make our system anything but “equal opportunity.” One of the struggles I face as a lawyer is seeing the promise of “liberty and justice for all” ring hollow when everyday people cannot access basic legal information or legal representation, or when they are swept up into the justice system in an unequal and unjust way at the very beginning. Having the difficult conversations is a start. Please add Beloved, or anything by Toni Morrison, to your reading list.

Do you have a favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Do you have a story about how that was relevant in your life or your work?

MK: “Nothing is wasted in God’s economy.” I tell this to young women all the time when we discuss careers and life choices especially around your first jobs out of college.

What I mean when I repeat this phrase is that everything you do counts and it will be noticed. If you show excellence in your work, it will be noticed. If you show that you are putting effort and care into work that we all know is tedious and monotonous, it will really be noticed.

Everything you do, everywhere you work and how your treat everyone counts. At some point in your life you, sooner or later, it will all come into play. Nothing is a wasted experience, you learn from everything.

Now in hindsight, I can see how my career path all tied together to get me to this place where I can assess if someone has long lasting value as a product, a brand and a vision. Early on in my music career I worked with older artists. I was able to help introduce them and their work to both their contemporaries and younger generations by placing their songs in Disney films and watching what happened when they voiced characters on edgy TV shows. At the time I wanted to work with the cooler, younger artists, but I learned a lot more from taking great artists and help introduce them to the next generations.

JM: The quote I’ve shared most often with my team as we build LawChamps comes from a story my great-grandmother shared with me: “Crazy Henry Ford just buzzed the toll road again!”

When my great-grandmother was a girl growing up in Detroit, in the horse and buggy age, the toll keeper would complain that Henry Ford would ‘buzz” the toll road without paying because he had no money, testing out his “crazy contraptions.” The toll keeper got exasperated, the townspeople all talked about it. Of course, we all know now that Henry Ford was undeterred.

I always tell my team not to be afraid to dream big, be scrappy and just and “buzz the toll road,” because sometimes that’s what you need to do to change the world.

Can you describe how you or your organization is making a significant social impact?

MK: I do everything I possibly can each and every day to give as much time, attention and capital to female founders and founders of color as well as empowering other women at my stage of their lives and career to also invest in these valuable groups of talent.

JM: There’s a reason people spend years in law school — laws are messy, complicated, subject to interpretation, and hard to understand. There are just some situations in life you shouldn’t handle on your own, and that includes handling your own legal problems.

I often think about how lawyers help people in eviction cases. Study after study has shown that Black, LatinX and female renters are disproportionately evicted. When people go to eviction court without a lawyer, they lose 90% of the time. With a lawyer by their side, they win 90% of cases. Traditionally. 90% of landlords have attorneys, while only 10% of tenants do. This creates a power imbalance that makes many tenants feel hopeless, and encourages them to accept untenable circumstances, take whatever deal is offered, move out upon demand, etc. Lawyers help us become a more fair and equal society.

Can you tell us a story about a particular individual who was impacted or helped by your cause?

JM: During the earliest days of the COVID-pandemic, our phones were ringing off the hook with people needing help. I remember one woman — a single mother — called and was crying because her landlord had started a series of loud construction projects all around her unit in an effort to get her to move out. She was working from home, and would lose her job if she couldn’t work from home successfully.

What I did for this particular woman was point her to our resources directory, where she could read up on her rights and find sample letters to use to send to her landlord. We also spoke about what she would do next, and when she would need to consult an attorney. I explained we could connect her to one near her, and that our service was free to consumers. I remember when she stopped crying, and how her voice sounded hopeful when we hung up, because she had a solid plan of action. That type of day is what LawChamps is all about.

Are there three things the community/society/politicians can do to help you address the root of the problem you are trying to solve?

JM: I firmly believe that just as we need better access to quality education, to quality medical care, we need access to the law and legal representation for everyone. If we are going to make “liberty and justice for all” anything other than aspirational, we need to make sure people have the ability to consult with an attorney, at least to an extent commensurate with the potential consequences of not doing so (e.g., if someone is going to lose their house, their children, their job, their health benefits, their businesses, then a one-on-one consultation with an attorney is in order).

Many people don’t get legal help when they need it most; estimates are that between 62 to 87 percent of adults have a legal issue that goes untended each year. And it probably goes without saying, but the easiest way to and lose your rights is to try to “go it alone.” We need to get more legal education, direct legal services, and alternative legal services into the hands of everyday people. Any innovations that move the profession in that direction should be nurtured and embraced. If we are going to have a more “just” society, it starts with opening up the channels of access.

How have you used your success to make the world a better place?

MK: I do the best I can everyday to give as much time, attention and capital to female founders and founders of color as well as empowering other women at my stage of their lives and career to also invest in these valuable groups of talent.

JM: We should give serious thought to the right to counsel being a right that extends beyond when you are facing serious criminal charges and jail time. So many people face legal issues that have long-lasting, serious life consequences if they are not handled correctly — people lose their homes, custody of their children, their jobs, their health benefits, their credit and businesses they spent years building. We need to be willing to invest in legal care for everyone, in all these areas, if we are going to make real, lasting, positive change.

If we do not empower people to get legal help when they need it most, then we are signing-off on a system that doesn’t change: where the power imbalances that already exist in our society are perpetuated. Our legal system was designed to be a check and balance against the more egregious social injustices, but in order for that promise to be realized, people who face injustice need adequate legal representation.

If we do not empower people to get legal help when they need it most, then we are signing-off on a system that doesn’t change: where the power imbalances that already exist in our society are perpetuated. Our legal system was designed to be a check and balance against the more egregious social injustices, but in order for that promise to be realized, people who face injustice need adequate legal representation.

Let’s now jump to the primary focus of our interview. According to this EY report, only about 20 percent of funded companies have women founders. This reflects great historical progress, but it also shows that more work still has to be done to empower women to create companies. In your opinion and experience what is currently holding back women from founding companies?

MK: There is nothing holding back women from creating companies. In fac,t they are starting and running more companies than men. These are viable companies that will run for many years. However, what is holding women back from founding companies that will be funded by venture capital, private equity and angel investors is the bias and unconscious bias that women are less likely to have a big vision and take the chances needed to make the kind of return on investment that their male counterparts tell investors they will make.

Women can build companies that will result in a 10x to 40x return on investment. However, many are creating companies that could make a great 5x to 10x return on investment without burning through millions of dollars to try and figure out a way to make incredibly large returns.

JM: [Do you want to answer this or simply let Maxi?]

Can you share with our readers what you are doing to help empower women to become founders?

MK: : As an investor the number one thing I can do is invest in women founders and co-founder. LawChamps is one of those investment with a strong and experienced female co-founder in Jennifer McGlone. We invested capital and other resources into LawChamps to make sure it had the support it needed to not only provide access to legal representation for all, but have the mentorship it needed.

On a daily basis, I advise female founders of startup companies, I speak with your women in college that are planning to start their own businesses. I work with the Black Girls Making Millions Academy founded by Mahisha Dellinger.

I also work with other women investors on an event we call Women Who Invest. We host evenings in NY, LA and SF for women who are interested in starting to fund female founders. We go through the basics of Angel Investing and have several female founders present to the group.

There is so much one can do from being part of accelerators, incubators, speaking on panels, advising, consulting and mentoring. Founders of all kinds need mentors as much as they need capital.

This might be intuitive to you but I think it will be helpful to spell this out. Can you share a few reasons why more women should become founders?

MK: They create businesses that provide utility and value as opposed to chasing trends. As women represent over half the population and the majority of the spending power, they bring their perspective and sensibility to the product and how to present it.

LawChamps is the perfect example of this, with co-founder and chief legal officer Jennifer McGlone bringing her sensibility and experience to how the consumer is matched with attorneys. What questions are asked, what criteria is needed and how categories are grouped.

How do you define “Leadership”? Can you explain what you mean or give an example?

JM: What I try to do as a leader is find people who share my belief and commitment to what we are trying to achieve, then I trust them to give it their all and I rely on their professional judgment. I stand as a resource and thought partner for my team, but they are the experts in their respective fields. It’s their commitment and energy that is our most valuable resource, and that’s the resource I try to nurture and appreciate most as a leader.

What are your “5 things I wish someone told me when I first started” and why. Please share a story or example for each.

JM: I wish someone would have hammered these lessons home for me:

  1. Resilience & Perseverance — sometimes, running a business is about staying alive until you find what works;
  2. Agility — be willing to question your basic assumptions and don’t be afraid to pivot;
  3. Execution — you’ll never change the world unless you are willing to roll up your sleeves and do the work;
  4. Embrace Your Customer — they will tell you what they want and need; it’s your job to listen and empower them; and
  5. Teamwork — success as a leader is setting up the team to succeed with or without you.

Here is the main question of our interview. Can you please share 5 things that can be done or should be done to help empower more women to become founders? If you can, please share an example or story for each.

MK:

1. Invest in female founders with capital and mentorship.

When the Me Too movement hit a few years back, I realized that we had been investing in female founders already. We asked ourselves why we were doing this. The female founders were easily coachable, they came to your with proven concepts and knew exactly the type of help they needed. They needed operational help as much as capital and they were willing to ask for it. Female founders use their investors well for all the additional resources they can provide.

2. Encourage other women to write checks to female founders.

As the conversation continued, I saw that my then small group of female investor friends felt the same, so we started holding events to help women in all walks of life get comfortable with and have access to writing checks to female founders to support them and their businesses. We have been able to not only help the actual founders and companies raise money, but to create entire new groups of women who are out there investing and providing connections and resources to these companies.

We call the events, Women Who Invest, because we are providing so much more than capital.

Our last event before the pandemic in Oct 2019 showcased founders like Bella Hughes of Shaka Tea to received exposure and funding in its early stage of business, author Eve Rodsky to talk about her book Fair Play and Goldman Sachs Launch fund to discuss how they are committed to helping female founders as they get past those early stages.

3. Continue to profile female founders.

It is the best role modeling you can have to see someone else not only succeed, but to try to make a vision happen, whether it is in business, sports, creative endeavors, etc. I feel that for some time we do need to highlight someone as a ‘Female CEO’. The more this is seen and is commonplace the faster we will be able to drop the label ‘female’ and just write CEO.

4. Mentor and advise at the high school and college level for female students to think about starting their own business.

I work with students at Cal Poly university in many of the majors and schools to have a very broad view of their careers and to understand that they can try at any point to make a shift or pivot in their vision. They are not bound by any one decision they make.

5. Work with existing female entrepreneurs to profile them as role models for starting a business, growing one and then paying it forward to other female entrepreneurs.

Most female founders I know say that once they have an opportunity to take financial gains from their business, one of the first things they are going to do is invest in other female founders. A great example of this is Alexa Von Tobel, Founding Partner, Inspired VC. She created this fund after she sold her fintech company LearnVest to Northwestern Mutual.

You are both people of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good for the greatest number of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger.

MK: Legal Care, Self Care, and Education: The legal system needs to be changed in a dramatic but methodical way. Chief Legal Officer and Co-founder of LawChamps Jennifer McGlone has shone me this better than anyone could. After 20 years practicing law, she is now changing the law by providing access to justice on her platform. She is enabling anyone to be connected to legal representation and for attorneys to reach the clients that would never otherwise be able to find an attorney who is looking for help to navigate a system that is setup so that the average person doesn’t have a chance to succeed if not properly represented.

The legal system is too complex for the average person to navigate through, so we need to make sure that the population of this country and this world can find the champions and allies they need to help them through some of life’s toughest challenges.

The general public needs a legal education for life. Legal Care is self care. From getting married, creating a business, drawing up a will to buying a house there are those exciting life events we need to prepare for legally. Then there are the ones we hope never happen, divorce, child custody, conservatorship for aging parents and those facing the criminal system.

It would be of the greatest benefit to society if the general public were educated and assisted on how they needed to take care of their lives and families through legal self care.

JM: We should give serious thought to the right to counsel being a right that extends beyond when you are facing serious criminal charges and jail time. So many people face legal issues that have long-lasting, serious life consequences if they are not handled correctly — people lose their homes, custody of their children, their jobs, their health benefits, their credit and businesses they spent years building. We need to be willing to invest in legal care for everyone, in all these areas, if we are going to make real, lasting, positive change.

If we do not empower people to get legal help when they need it most, then we are signing-off on a system that doesn’t change: where the power imbalances that already exist in our society are perpetuated. Our legal system was designed to be a check and balance against the more egregious social injustices, but in order for that promise to be realized, people who face injustice need adequate legal representation.

We are very blessed that some very prominent names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US with whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this if we tag them.

MK: Right now that person would be Diane von Furstenberg. She has been a strong and powerful woman in business and society for decades now. She is unapologetic about her ambition and femininity. And she has not even come close to slowing down. In fact, she is only ramping up her legacy now to empower young girls and women of all kinds to own their dreams and make them happen. She took chances on Rent the Runway and works with amazing young female founders like Daniella Pierson of the Newsette. Diane tirelessly campaigns with her podcast, countless interviews and ever touchpoint for her own company to share her life lessons with no hold back on the truth about life and how she has lived it.

JM: Michelle Obama. She grew up in the South Side of Chicago and she understands the value of representation, including legal representation, and how transformative it can be for individuals and communities. Michelle Obama is the type of lawyer, and the type of person, we want to partner with as we build LawChamps. My favorite quote of hers is “Success isn’t about how much money you make. It’s about the difference you make in people’s lives.”

How can our readers further follow your work online?

MK: www.ldrventures.com — sign up for our newsletter

https://www.linkedin.com/in/maxine-kozler-koven-7573633/

JM: You can find us on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn

Thank you for these fantastic insights. We greatly appreciate the time you spent on this.

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