Today we’d like to introduce you to Stepan S. Khzrtian.
Stepan, please share your story with us. How did you get to where you are today?
So far, my journey seems like a long string of negotiations. Having spent half my life in the success-driven, individualist, liberal bustle of Los Angeles and the other half in the family-and-friends-first, collectivist, conservative setting of Armenia has wired me to see both sides of a story, find the middle ground, and build upon it.
Since my high school years, this tendency has led me to build teams of diverse collaborators for impact. It started with a 5,000-member youth initiative geared toward bringing civic education to Armenian society. We called it HENQ (or “The Base”), as it focused on the basic principles we could all agree upon — so that when society was deeply polarized among the heated rhetoric of the 2008 Armenian Presidential Elections, our initiative rose to bridge the divide and pave way toward constructive dialogue.
Another opportunity came after I delivered a TEDx talk on how bees do not need a visa to travel to flowers and return to their hive to make honey… and neither should youth as they set sail to get world-class education and return to their homeland to work. Working for the Luys (or “Light”) Foundation as Architect for Networks, I forged unlikely partnerships with organizations of different agendas, in order to create competitive jobs in Armenia for globally educated youth to look forward to.
With the guidance of senior colleagues, my friends and I later set up the Center for Excellence in Negotiation: Yerevan NGO to bring negotiation and communication skills training to decision-makers ranging from government officials and police officers to C-suite executives and public activists. The main focus of the trainings, again, was transcending conflict with collaboration. The NGO continues its work through developing curricula and publishing training material for schools and colleges.
And this brings me to my work today, managing LegalLab, an international business and corporate law firm that helps entrepreneurs and non-profit leaders negotiate and close the toughest yet most rewarding deals across borders as they work selflessly toward solving problems.
Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
It’s rarely – if ever – a smooth road, right? And in hindsight, that’s for the better, because those struggles are what make you as a person and professional. “Our problems are our wealth,” I like to say — each problem is an opportunity to grow, and growth leads to wealth along various dimensions.
When it comes to crafting deals among stakeholders with different agendas, one of the main challenges is gaining and maintaining the trust of all sides involved. For these deals to last, they should work for all parties — and when you work toward that goal, it’s very easy to be brushed off as biased: each party may think that you care less about its interests and more about the other parties’ interests. Overcoming that trust barrier requires building relationships, always staying true to your word, and balancing rapport with reason — each of these being a fragile balancing act that can crumble with the slightest misstep.
Once you do get to the end of that tightrope, the view that unravels is well worth the effort, for all involved. It’s that view — that prospect of a fruitful, collaborative future — that turns competitors into business partners with many returns.
Alright – so let’s talk business. Tell us about LegalLab – what should we know?
For over six years now, LegalLab is helping people with awesome ideas turn these into legally sound, beautiful businesses and non-profits, from pre-incorporation all the way to cross-border expansion… and we do so without killing their vibe. Sometimes, lawyers stifle entrepreneurs with legalese and caveats and risk-averse advice; instead, as the founder of one of our clients — Ani Torosyan of DishDivvy, also an interviewee of VoyageLA — described, we roll up our sleeves and plunge right in.
Going beyond the traditional legal services of drafting documents, negotiating contracts, and handling general legal compliance, LegalLab is a legal partner for its client, not just legal counsel. This means being super-available for a quick consult or sending a legal document — whether by phone, email, or text, regardless if it’s a Tuesday, a Saturday, or a holiday.
“A breath of fresh air” is how our clients describe our “Limitless Legal” subscription plans, which deliver a range of unlimited legal services for a flat monthly fee that cover a majority, if not all, of the client’s daily legal needs. That’s why our monthly bills are not dreaded like many other firms’, because our client knows the number at the bottom of the invoice before they get it.
Finally, having offices in California and Armenia and partner firms in nine countries worldwide puts LegalLab in a position to serve businesses and non-profits with cross-border needs, whether it’s expanding to new markets, selling products and services, hiring talent, acquiring assets, or negotiating and closing the toughest international deals.
Is there a characteristic or quality that you feel is essential to success?
Patience is a virtue. If I were to single out one quality, that would be it.
Patience pushes you to not give up — because if it didn’t work out this time, maybe with hard work and a few shifts it’ll work out next time… or the time after that.
Patience allows you to keep a level head — to understand why others do what they do and how they see the situation, which are key to building trust and bridges that last.
Finally, patience helps you make sense of the seemingly senseless — as Steve Jobs said, you can only connect the dots looking backward, and if events don’t make sense now… be patient, one day they will.
- Limitless Legal – Basic Plan: $500/month
- Limitless Legal – Start-up Plan: $1,000/month
- Limitless Legal – General Counsel Plan: $2,000/month
- Address: 330 North Brand Boulevard, Suite 702
Glendale, California 91203
- Website: www.legallab.co
- Phone: 310-299-6796
- Email: email@example.com
- Instagram: instagram.com/legallab
- Facebook: facebook.com/legallabinc
LegalLab, CEN Yerevan, Harout Abrahamyan