From Corporate Law to Vision Care
Three years ago, Jeremy Bornstein decided to leave the safety of his corporate law job to enter the exciting world of start-ups, and he has never looked back.
As the VP of Growth at Boston start-up, 2020 On-site, he has helped expand the company’s innovative eye care services into three major US cities, and grown the customer base to over 300 corporate clients.
We recently spoke to Jeremy for this installment of our lawyers quitting practice series. We learned about his professional journey from law school, to practicing at a big corporate firm, and finally leaving law to follow his passion for management.
The Road to Law School
Like many others, Jeremy’s decision to go to law school was mainly based on uncertainty. With undergraduate degrees in political science and business, Jeremy had worked in management consulting, and software sales. Unsure about what he really wanted to do, he applied to law school, where he quickly got swept up in the corporate world.
After landing a summer job at Cassels Brock & Blackwell, Jeremy stayed there for articles and returned as an associate. However, during this time Jeremy realized that despite the training and learning opportunities available at a big firm, he knew something was missing. He felt he wanted to have a hand in building something.
While working in his transactional practice, Jeremy met dozens of entrepreneurs and investors, piquing his interest to begin exploring other opportunities. After months of searching for the right idea and management company to become a part of, he was presented with the opportunity to join his brother’s start-up company, 2020 On-site. 2020 On-site provides convenient and high quality eye exams through their mobile vision centers, which have an optometrist, a private exam room, and a wide selection of lenses and contacts.
Jeremy found that he really believes in and values the company’s goal to make vision care available to everyone. He saw this as an opportunity to use his skills to positively impact people’s health.
“Instead of helping close transactions for huge companies, I wanted to be able to help grow something and do something that might actually help people.”
After months of flying back and forth to the company’s headquarters in Boston and meeting with members of the board and executive team, Jeremy knew that this was the position he was looking for. After only 10 months of practicing law, Jeremy quit and completely altered his career path.
Taking on a New Role
Currently, Jeremy Bornstein is the VP of Growth at 2020 On-site. His daily responsibilities include team management, building partnerships and developing growth strategies. He tells us that he also does things involving law, such as corporate governance, fundraising and debt financing. His legal background has given him the knowledge to go beyond his job description and take on a wide range of both legal and non-legal responsibilities.
A big part of Jeremy’s position is making connections and marketing. In fact, before launching 2020 On-site in Chicago and Atlanta, Jeremy spent three months in each city building relationships with large clients and supervising the roll-out of the expansions. Although he is modest, we can see that he has become invaluable to the company with his market strategies and his execution.
Jeremy Bornstein outlined some major challenges in transitioning from practicing law to general management.
“I look at Law as a place where there are ebbs and flows. You have sprints and then you have a lot of downtime, whereas general management is much more of a marathon.”
For Jeremy, the legal profession has clear hierarchies where you learn from those senior to you. There is a very clear structure for lawyers, and they never stray beyond their roles. In his new position, he learns from all members of his team and his role is not strictly defined.
“One of the most challenging things I find is because it’s so open, and there isn’t a partner making sure you are getting something done, you have to be very effective at managing your own time.”
Another challenge that Jeremy experienced was suddenly having to manage others. As an associate, he only needed to be responsible for himself, but in a management position he has to be looking out for his entire team.
We asked Jeremy what advice he would give to someone considering leaving practice. The first thing he emphasizes is lawyers looking to get away from practicing law often risk falling into a role that is too similar to their current position. To get away from that, you need to take a risk and do something that you are excited about.
“Make sure that what you’re doing is truly aligned with what you want to do.”
The second piece of advice he offers is take the time to learn everything you can about your industry.
“Learn a lot. If you are going into a general management type position, really invest time in reading books on leadership and management.”
Jeremy’s story shows us that you can always follow your interests and be in control of your future. He recognized that practicing law was not for him very early on, and he had the initiative to get out.