My Big Break: How Brian Lee cold-called Robert Shapiro and turned him into a co-founder

By Paul Bradley Carr , written on July 30, 2014

From The News Desk

In Pando's "My Big Break" series, we've been asking leading names in the tech industry to share the person who, or opportunity which, lead to the breakthrough moment in the career. Earlier this week, Jason Hirschhorn told me about the lawyer who helped him go from bedroom entrepreneur to the youngest senior exec at MTV Networks.

[Note: The My Big Break series is being sponsored by Braintree's Ignition program, so you'll only see their ads around "My Big Break" pieces. But the series was conceived, commissioned and edited entirely by Pando. Braintree had no input whatsoever in the editorial. For more on our policy towards single sponsor series like this one, see here.]

Today we dig back into the Pando archives for another legal story. Last year, during his PandoMonthly interview, Brian Lee -- co-founder of LegalZoomShoeDazzle, and The Honest Co. -- told Sarah Lacy about the time he decided to cold-call star lawyer Robert Shapiro to ask if he'd be a spokesperson for the then-fledgling LegalZoom.

Lee and his partners knew that asking Americans to trust a company they'd never heard of with their bank information, credit card information, mortgage information... was a non-starter.

"We wanted to put a face to the company. Robert Shapiro at that time, and probably today, was one of the most famous lawyers in the country and so we asked everyone we knew if they knew Robert Shapiro but our networks were pretty small back then, and no one knew him. So what I did was I called 411 information -- this is pre-Google -- and I asked for Robert Shapiro attorney, Century City...

I didn't know this at the time, but he's a workaholic and he answered the phone at 9 o'clock at night... I had my voice message written out, I was going to leave him a voicemail but he picked up and said 'hello.'

I said, 'Hi, I'm calling for Robert Shapiro.'

He said, 'This is Robert Shapiro, how can I help you?'

I said, 'Robert Shapiro the attorney?'

He said, 'Yeah'.

I said, 'My name is Brain Lee and I have a business opportunity I'd like to run by you.'

The first thing he said is, 'I'm not interested'...

I yelled, 'WAIT!'

Lee tells what happened next on the video below. (Spoiler: On Wikipedia, Shapiro is described as a co-founder of LegalZoom.)

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