Episode 14

Being a Business-Minded Lawyer: Kathy Zhu, Co-founder, CEO & GC @Streamline AI

Episode summary

Introduction: 0:00 

  • Introducing Kathy Zhu, Co-founder, CEO & GC at Streamline AI, her legal background, and her passion for scuba-diving.

Becoming an in-house counsel: 1:30 

  • Coming from a family without experience in the legal profession. 
  • Studying both Biology and English in college. 
  • Realizing she had a drive to help people and deciding to pursue law school. 
  • Encountering business law in Law School and deciding in-house counsel was the right path.

Persevering during life pivots: 3:45

  • Immigrating from China at the age of 6 and learning how to adapt. 
  • Moving from locations that spanned from Australia to the UK to the United States. 
  • Overcoming challenges and cultural differences in each move to become resilient. 
  • Gaining a global perspective.

Taking a leap of faith and building a start-up: 5:24 

  • Transitioning from Doordash to building her own company took courage.
  • Identifying a recurring problem she faced as an in-house counsel and striving to fix it.
  • Building Streamline AI to manage the chaos and bring visibility into the legal department.
  • Teaching herself how to design on Figma and coming up with a product blueprint. 
  • Teaming up with a technical co-founder to build and execute on the vision. 

Identifying the right co-founder: 8:05 

  • Meeting Streamline AI’s co-founder Julian.
  • Identifying a common problem, which they each personally identified with from different perspectives.
  • Meeting of the minds to help solve this problem.

Transitioning to CEO of Streamline AI: 10:16 

  • Working as a business-minded in-house counsel prepared Kathy to be CEO. 
  • Wearing multiple hats on the job enables business-minded lawyers to succeed in entrepreneurship.
  • How struggles in life gave Kathy the perspective to persevere through challenges and to prioritize Streamline AI.

Learning about leadership from scuba diving: 18:01 

  • What scuba diving taught Kathy about being a leader.
  • Learning to stay calm when dealing with pressure.
  • Overcoming your fears becomes easier the more you face them head-on.

Leveraging law experience in product development: 22:53 

  • Seeing the world through the users’ eyes.
  • Capitalizing on Kathy’s experience from her in-house roles and baking that into the product.
  • Combining her lived experience with her co-founder’s technical experience. 
  • Listening to customers for product feedback and recommendations. 

Advice for legal tech buyers on where to start: 26:55 

  • How to go about procuring and evaluating legal tech software.
  • Encouraging customers to do their homework.

Embracing new technology in law: 30:14

  • Ensuring legal teams do not get left behind with technology. 
  • Studying the “Tech Adoption Lifestyle” and identifying where you fall.
  • Making a conscious decision to embrace technology or be aware of changes happening in the landscape. 

Breaking the mindset of resisting change: 33:49 

  • Identifying what your internal dialog is telling you. 
  • Acknowledging that change is already happening. 
  • Directing the flow of change, and being the CEO of your own life.
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Tyler Finn
Head of Community & Growth, SpotDraft
Kathy M. Zhu
Co-Founder, CEO & GC, Streamline AI

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