Raymond J. Zolekhian, 29

Robin Hanasab, 29

Hanasab & Zolekhian LLP, Los Angeles, a law firm

Employees: 2

Financials: 2010 revenue of $750,000.

What led you to start your own company?

Zolekhian: I enjoy the entrepreneurial aspect of the practice of law. Whether it be business development or the autonomy to pursue interesting and challenging cases, having your own practice provides you with the freedom to do all of these things.

Where did you get the startup money?

My partner and I both tapped into our savings.

What was the biggest challenge?

Believing in my own abilities was a big challenge, coming from an environment where you have senior attorneys constantly supervising your work. When I first began representing personal injury clients, I would oftentimes defer to more experienced colleagues in the field as to whether or not to take a particular case. That changed when I was approached by a client with a significant injury. Several attorneys advised me to pass on the case because there appeared to be no liability on the part of the defendant. I decided to take the case and after extensive research I was able to obtain a six-figure settlement for my client.

How many hours a day do you put in?

When you have your own practice, the line becomes somewhat blurry as to when the workday begins and ends. I often spend my downtime thinking of new marketing strategies, attending seminars or networking events, or reading up on my field. As far as time spent in the office, that amounts to about nine hours a day.

Does your youth lead to awkward situations?

From my experience, youth is a double-edged sword. There have been times where I have spoken to a potential client over the phone only for them to be surprised by my youth when they meet me in person. More often than not, however, clients like the energy and the hunger that we bring to the table. Our more entrepreneurial clients also sometimes see a little bit of themselves in us and want to provide opportunities for young entrepreneurs to succeed.

Could you ever work for someone else?

I’ll never say never, but at this time I can’t imagine doing anything else.

What do you do to relax?

I’m a lifelong Lakers fan, and enjoy going to concerts. More than anything, I love to spend time with my family and friends.

What led you to start your own company?

Hanasab: When the commercial real estate market halted in 2008, I wanted to create a recession-proof company. At that time, Ray had just left Skadden Arps and I saw an opportunity for us to combine our varying yet extremely complementary skill sets to do something special.

What was the biggest challenge?

The biggest challenge has been and continues to be time management. I am still extremely active in real estate acquisition and management, so it has been a challenge balancing my time. But I’m not complaining.

How many hours a day do you put in?

Depends what you consider “on the clock.” I’m in the office about nine hours a day, but glued to my phone at all other times.

Will you start another company?

As an entrepreneur, I am always open to new business ideas and have them presented to us every so often. We have recently decided to form a real estate management and investment company to provide a service to our clients and colleagues who have been asking us to give them access to real estate opportunities that we have the expertise to identify, acquire and manage.

What do you do to relax?

When I’m not watching the Lakers, I’m playing basketball myself, or spending time with my family and friends.

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