Jessica T. Ornsby is the founder of A+O Law Group, a Washington, DC based litigation law firm. Jessica received her J.D. and LL.M. from Georgetown University and uses her legal experience to serve families and individuals facing legal difficulties related to family law, landlord-tenant and business matters.
- CEO Hack: Point system. I give each activity a point and my target is close to five points a day
- CEO Nugget: Always remember a CEO isn't an employee
- CEO Defined: Be a visionary
Do you want to learn effective ways to build relationships, generate sales, and grow your business from successful entrepreneurs, startups, and CEOs without listening to a long, long, long interview? If so, you’ve come to the right place, Gresham Harkless values your time and is ready to share with you precisely the information you’re in search of. This is the I am CEO podcast.
Gresham Harkless 0:29
Hello, hello. Hello, this is Gresh from the I am CEO podcast and I have a very special guest on the show today. I have JESSICA ORNSBYI of A+O Law Group. Jessica, It's awesome to have you on the show.
JESSICA ORNSBYI 0:39
It's so great to be here.
Gresham Harkless 0:41
No problem. Super excited to have you on and before we jumped in, I want to read a little bit more about Jessica to hear about all the awesome things that she's doing. And Jessica is the founder of A+O Law Group, a Washington, DC based litigation law firm. Jessica received her J.D. and LL.M. from Georgetown University and uses her legal experience to serve families and individuals facing legal difficulties related to family law, landlord-tenant and business matters. Jessica, are you ready to speak to the IAMCEO community?
JESSICA ORNSBYI 1:10
Gresham Harkless 1:11
Awesome. Let's do it. So to kick everything off, I wanted to rewind the clock a little bit here a little bit more about how you got started. Could you take us through your CEO story, and we'll let you get started your business?
JESSICA ORNSBYI 1:20
Yeah, so I decided to start in a log group after I graduated law school, and started working at a big firm. And in many ways, it was sort of this perfect job. A lot of law students hoped to get that type of job, but I was miserable. And I couldn't figure out why. And what I realized was that even though I was making a decent salary and was in the sort of like, upper echelon of the legal community, I wasn't serving my community, I was not representing clients that looked like me. And I wasn't representing people who had issues that I could relate to. And so I said, Well, let me create a piece of the pie that I want to eat. And so I decided to start my practice.
Gresham Harkless 2:04
Nice, absolutely love that and appreciate that. I think that's in true entrepreneurial form. And so many times we're not sure, and what we see problems, and we're not sure exactly how to solve those problems, but I think is a true entrepreneur that says, hey, you know, this five doesn't represent exactly what I wanted to. So let me recreate the pie. Let me change up the recipe and create something that becomes exactly what I wanted to be. Exactly. Nice. So I wanted to drill down a little bit deeper here a little bit more about a no longer Could you take us through exactly how you serve the clients you work with.
JESSICA ORNSBYI 2:34
So I represent clients and mostly Family Law limited in business, as you stated. And I help clients who really in many ways in some of the most difficult parts of their life. And it's either through mediation, on negotiations, or through actually representing them in a court case. And what's really great about the technology that's available to us like zoom is I can meet clients where they are without costing them additional money, making them travel here or there. So if they have a cell phone, we can hop on a video call, if you have iPhone, I can hop on a FaceTime call with you so that you have that personal connection even though we're not physically face to face. I use mostly or exclusively electronic portals so that clients are able to easily communicate with me and send documents and if we have mediation done virtually, or you can do it in person, so I just tried to come up with creative and cost effective ways to meet the needs of my clients.
Gresham Harkless 3:39
Yeah, absolutely love that. You know, except I'm an Android guy. So except for that but I love that you're able to kind of take care of and connect with the clients you know in in leverage this technology because I think especially I'm also in the DC, Maryland, Virginia area. The traffic situation is not always ideal. To be able to get to and from and warp speed really with a leveraging the technology we have at our disposal is definitely something that's a huge advantage.
JESSICA ORNSBYI 4:06
Yes, I do not envy people who have long commutes. I do not want to make my clients have to travel an hour to or from to get to my office.
Gresham Harkless 4:18
Yeah, absolutely. And you you covered the DC, Maryland and Virginia as far as like people you're able to serve as well, too.
JESSICA ORNSBYI 4:24
So right now DC and Maryland at the end of the year, Virginia as well.
Gresham Harkless 4:28
Okay, perfect. We're definitely excited about that and being able to kind of serve this whole entire kind of, I guess you call it somewhat of a tri state area, even though DC still working on that. So I now wanted to ask you for what I call your secret sauce and this could be for you or your organization or combination of both. But what do you feel kind of sets you apart and makes you unique?
JESSICA ORNSBYI 4:49
So I guess what sets me apart and what makes me unique, I think is the accessibility and the relatability of me as a practitioner. To my clients. So there are a lot of attorneys out there. And there are a lot of family law attorneys in particular. But I have been in the shoes of my clients, many times, I have a blended family, I've been married and divorced, I have a very interesting share custody situation, I can give my clients advice that's not only based on case law or legal analysis, but also from a personal perspective. So I've had situations where I'm telling the judge, Look, I know you're saying you're going to do that. But that doesn't make sense. And here's why. And I can tell them why I also am very flexible, because being at home with children, I understand that my clients also have things that they have to do at home after work and before work. So I always try to make sure that I'm available to them at times that make sense for them and their families. And I also am very, very organized, you know, I'm constantly making sure that my practice prioritizes things appropriately. And we're taking care of everything that needs to be done. And in terms of accessibility, I think that's reflected in how I market and how I share information. It's, I don't think that the law should feel so disconnected from the community. So I use my social media to share information, and to show like, Hey, I'm a real person, and the law, it applies to you. And it's something that you should be thinking about, and you should have a lawyer, if you need a lawyer in your area, reach out to me, you know, just making sure that people know that lawyers are not just like the stuffy people who live in like under a rock or something. No. Yeah, that was a little, a little long winded. But
Gresham Harkless 6:56
no, I mean, I think is definitely a huge thing. And I appreciate that, because I don't know if you find this, you know, when you work with your clients, especially in most situations, but definitely I imagine in legal situations where you feel like you're kind of by yourself. And I think when you're able to obviously, you know, build those connections, those relationships, you know, talk about the humaneness of business, and even law, which I think sometimes we overlook, it helps provide that opportunity to connect. But I think too, as you kind of talked about, it helps someone know that they're not always alone, and then the only person in the world that maybe went through some type of experience, as you're able to kind of speak to that it sounds like,
JESSICA ORNSBYI 7:30
exactly, I am a big proponent of creating safe spaces. And I know that safe spaces has come up a lot in our community in general. But talking about legal issues should also be a safe space. And so I try to use my social media as a place where you can come and get answers and ask questions and not feel judged, and see that there are other people who are dealing with similar issues. So you don't feel so isolated.
Gresham Harkless 7:56
Yeah, absolutely. And I think that, um, even to like, once you sometimes hear about those situations, and you hear how somebody was able to kind of, I guess overcome it or get through it, that helps you also know that there is sometimes light at the end of the tunnel during difficult situations sometimes.
JESSICA ORNSBYI 8:12
Gresham Harkless 8:14
Awesome. Awesome. Awesome. So I wanted to switch gears a little bit. And I want to ask you for what I call a CEO hack. So this could be like an app, a book or a habit that you have. But what's something that makes you more effective and efficient.
JESSICA ORNSBYI 8:26
A couple of years ago, I adopted this sort of five point method. And I give each activity a point. And my goal is to get to five points a day. And I include not just professional tasks, but also personal tasks that make me more effective as a professional. And so for example, I might have working out that's one point. So that's, that's significant. My new workout, that's a big deal. I'm onboarding a new client, having a consultation, different things. But I will make sure that I get as close to five points that day as possible. Because when you're the CEO of a company, you don't have someone on top of you making sure that you get your tasks done. And the only people who are really holding you accountable for yourself and your clients when they think you aren't doing your job. So by adopting this point system, I'm able to have sort of a rounded day.
Gresham Harkless 9:25
Awesome. So now I'm going to ask you for what I call a CEO nugget. And this could be a word of wisdom or a piece of advice. It might be something you would tell a client or if you happen to a time machine, you might tell your younger business self.
JESSICA ORNSBYI 9:38
So if I were to go back and talk to Jessica A few years ago, I would tell her to remember that a CEO is not an employee. And sometimes when we as entrepreneurs say that we want to start a business we forget that we have to shift our our thinking from that of an employee to that other CEO And if you were to walk into a target, for example, there's a CEO of target, but you're not going to necessarily see the CEO in the store, they're not necessarily going to be checking you out at your cash register. But that person, you can bet knows what needs to be done in order for that transaction take place, and what the store should look like. And as the CEO, you need to sometimes relinquish control and duties and responsibilities to other people who can put your plan in action, do a good job. And so that you can sit sort of at the high level, and make sure that everyone has the resources that they need. But if you're stuck in the employee mode, you're going to be trying to do all the transactions, you're going to get worn out, because the store is going to be dirty, because you can't also be the cashier and loss prevention. And you know, you can't do everything. You have to be comfortable delegating tasks, and I burned myself out or was on the brink of burning, burning myself out, because I was trying to do everything. And investing in staff is truly an investment in your company. A lot of times people think if you're paying people money, it's like this dollar in dollar out, I think I'm well not dollar in dollar out the dollar as $1 loss. That's not necessarily the case, I made way more money having staff than when it was just me. You're able to be more effective, your clients are happier, you're not able to answer every call, if you're busy, you want to get to that point. And so you should invest in your company by investing in people. And being able to provide jobs for your community is a beautiful thing to do as well.
Gresham Harkless 11:44
I wanted to ask you my absolute favorite question, which you kind of touched on, which is the definition of what it means to be a CEO. So we're hoping to have different, quote unquote, CEOs on the show. So Jessica, what does being a CEO mean to you?
JESSICA ORNSBYI 12:00
So me, being a CEO, is to be a visionary. And so that doesn't always mean I'm the one implementing, but a CEO, I think, if you are a visionary, and you're putting all the pieces together, that means you're finding the pieces, you're being careful about what pieces you're putting together, and curating your vision and putting something that's unique and valuable into the marketplace. And your vision is going to grow and it's going to evolve as the society changes, its political environment changes, and you as the CEO, you're going to keep molding those pieces and making sure that you have the appropriate parts there. And to me, that's what being a CEO is, of the legal profession can seem very sort of just stationary. But as the visionary of my practice, I've been able to show myself and other lawyers actually, that you don't have to mark it a certain way, you don't have to practice a certain way. And to make practicing law new and exciting for myself and for clients and for future attorneys as well.
Gresham Harkless 13:20
Nice, absolutely love that. I love that vision, that vision piece that you kind of spoke to, even when we were talking about kind of the target example. But if not even more, I love the idea of curation that you kind of talked about in bringing those pieces together so that it creates that vision for us. And I think so many times, as you we talked about before and the nugget we get caught in trying to execute every single piece of the curation and the vision that we have. But when we're able to kind of take a step back and to kind of understand maybe what all the pieces are doing, but not necessarily be executing on each and every piece. That's truly when things go to a different level.
JESSICA ORNSBYI 13:55
Yes, I find it exciting when a staff member says hey, like when they're teaching me something, Hey, did you know we could do this better? Like great? Yeah, I get, I could easily get bogged down in the weeds. And my to do list can stretch from here till forever. But if you are investing in your people, they will make you better as well.
Gresham Harkless 14:21
Yeah, absolutely. And it starts to, to spill out in so many different levels, obviously, interaction with the clients, but also interactions with team members as well too. And again, takes everything to another level.
JESSICA ORNSBYI 14:31
Gresham Harkless 14:32
Awesome. Awesome. Well, Jessica, I truly appreciate that. I appreciate your time even more. What I wanted to do is pass you the mic so to speak, just to see if there's anything additional you can let our readers and listeners know and of course, how best they can get a hold of you and find out about all the things you're working on.
JESSICA ORNSBYI 14:46
Sure, um, maybe one additional nugget is to not let fear of failure stop you from pursuing whatever it is is on that's on your heart. There's a reason why it's on your heart. your spiritual, there's a reason why God placed it on your heart. And do not let fear stop you. There are so many resources and so many people who are willing to share information and to help mentor you. mentorship is so important. So once you're in a position to be a mentor, please do. But if you're in this position of mentee, there's so many people who are wanting to help you. And if there's one person who is kind of a shady, forget them and find the other 10 people who are going to stand in your corner and cheer for you. And so you can find me on Instagram, it is dmv_lawyer. I'm also on Twitter at the same name. I don't tweet a lot yet. But you can find me there. And also on Facebook, Jessica Ornsby, and you can shoot me an email anytime firstname.lastname@example.org.
Gresham Harkless 15:53
Awesome, awesome. Awesome. I appreciate that, Jessica. And we will have the links and information in the show notes, just so that everybody can follow up with you as well. But I appreciate you appreciate that last nugget as well, too. I think so many times. You know, we can get so bogged down with things and we forget that there's people out there that want to help us out. There's people that we want to help out as well too, and getting the opportunity to kind of create that that win win situation is phenomenal. So I appreciate you for reminding us that appreciate your time as well and I hope you have a great rest of the day.
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