Founder Friday Feature: Camila Lopez, CEO and Co-Founder, People Clerk

What inspired you to start your company?

Because I’m an attorney, I’m also my friends’ and family members’ go-to resource for any legal questions they may have, and that has really opened my eyes to how difficult it is to find resources for pedestrian legal problems like security deposits, car accidents, or contracts. Of course, I like being able to share my area of expertise with others, but this pattern was clearly indicative of a much bigger problem, and I wanted to help solve that. Legal issues are complex, and seeking counsel is often prohibitively expensive, despite the fact that there is an entire court system built to handle the small claims of the people. So, I set out to build a platform that would lower those barriers and empower everyday individuals to actually use their court system by educating them on how to represent themselves and streamlining the process through technology. People Clerk is the result of that.

Who are your cofounders, and what makes you a great team?

My Co-Founder, Gustavo Lozano, is also the CTO of People Clerk and the mind behind our tech-powered platform. Gustavo’s background is in software engineering and product management, so he’s been able to write, conceptualize, and manage our software while I provide the legal foundation for the content and services our platform provides. Our skill sets are highly complementary; my legal knowledge informs what kinds of structures need to be built, and his tech knowledge inspires new ways to serve our clients.

How is People Clerk making a difference?

We’re on a mission to close the gap between people and the courts, creating a more accessible legal system for people of all social, economic, and cultural backgrounds. The first way we actually carry out our mission is by directly facilitating small claims court lawsuits. On our platform, we put the process in plain language and help prospective litigants orient themselves. So far, we’ve helped thousands of people successfully make their way through the small claims process, which is exceptional because most of our users have no other recourse and might otherwise have given up on their suit entirely. We give them the confidence and peace of mind they need to present their case, and that sort of personal development is invaluable.

What are some of the challenges you have faced?

We launched People Clerk in March of 2020, and had no idea that the pandemic was coming or how it would affect us. Specifically, COVID meant that all of the courts were shut down, which severely impacted our ability to help our clients with their cases. Even the courts themselves weren’t entirely clear on how to proceed, so we were forced to be flexible. Once the courts were able to adapt to pandemic guidelines, many of them began offering virtual hearings, which had never been done before. This was a huge win for accessibility, and made getting time in front of a judge possible for many who would otherwise have no way to do so.

What is your biggest win? 

My biggest win doesn’t actually feel like one big win, but rather, a series of simple, everyday wins. It’s seeing that a client who was once disoriented has now won their lawsuit, working alongside a world-class team, collaborating in a vast and fascinating industry, and building a company where helping people help themselves is at the core.

Who is your role model?

Justice Sonia Sotomayor. I read My Beloved World and was truly just blown away by the path her life has taken and all that she’s achieved. Especially as a Latina in the field of law, the heights that she’s reached just really resonate with and inspire me.

What do you wish you had known before starting your company?

I wish I had really known the definition of the word focus. We all think we understand what focus is and how to achieve it, but as founders, with so many tasks competing for our attention, it’s so vital to understand that focus is a singular noun — otherwise, it would be foci. It’s impossible to turn those multiple spinning plates into one objective without the ability to prioritize. The biggest takeaway from my time with People Clerk has been to prioritize specific tasks so that I can execute what needs to be done faster and get back to my other plates before they stop spinning.

What is your CEO superpower?

I don’t think that CEOs inherently have special abilities that set them apart, rather the power of a CEO comes from the superpowers they’re able to foster and uplift in others. So, for me, I think that power comes from our company culture. I started People Clerk with a mission, and that mission has attracted some of the most brilliant minds I’ve ever witnessed. Our culture is electric, and it’s what keeps me excited about what we do every day.

What else do you want people to know?

The one thing I would tell aspiring entrepreneurs is to build what makes you happy. Sure, that high-level idea you have might be lucrative, and it might even net you a comfortable exit, but even the earliest founder exits take time, and you’ll never see any of that come to fruition if you burn out beforehand. If you chase the idea that makes you happy, you’ll be able to put the whole of your effort into it, which can take your ideas much further. Plus, you might just look up one day and realize you’ve been lucky enough to live your dream, regardless of whether an exit is anywhere on the horizon.

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G&W Team

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