Jana Gouchev has achieved the unattainable twice. Before founding Gouchev Law Group, a progressive and tech-focused New York firm, Gouchev made the choice to switch careers entirely. As an editorial director at the New York Times, Gouchev knew she had already achieved what many people would consider the dream, but she also knew she was driven to build something bigger.
The law field was calling her, and as she had always done before, Gouchev followed her gut. “I knew I would be a different kind of lawyer, although I didn’t know what that meant exactly,” Gouchev says.
So she went to law school and channeled her ambition and remarkable aptitude for building on her own terms. Now Gouchev stands at the helm of a law firm bearing her name that was voted among the top three law firms in New York City of its size. Indeed, Gouchev Law is a modern law firm that has become known for performance and prestige. The firm now has eleven attorneys and is rapidly growing.
The origins of Gouchev Law can be traced to a single meeting over coffee. After graduating from law school and working in a large firm, Gouchev realized that she had bigger plans. She attended a panel featuring a business lawyer with his own small practice. After the panel, Gouchev asked if she could pick his brain. During their meeting, he said, “Why don’t you do a little bit of work for me? All you really need is a computer to set up your own shop.”
So she did. Gouchev set up shop with a laptop, her cell phone, and coffee in hand. Within months, she hired her first attorney and opened an office in Rockefeller Plaza. Before she knew it, she was running a full-service corporate and intellectual property law firm.
“I am so proud of our growth and evolution. Not only are we able to focus on what we do best, we also get to choose our clients,” she says. It seems that this is the reason Gouchev and her staff are so passionate about the work they do. “The clients we work with are genuinely great, smart people who are open to executing on the counsel they receive.”
Driven by an interest in making big things happen for visionary business leaders, Gouchev focused her energies on working with small companies early on. “My passion is helping companies grow and innovate,” Gouchev says. Soon enough, the firm attracted larger companies as well. Now, Gouchev works with Fortune 500 companies while still maintaining relationships with most of her start-up clients from the early days.
The focus on deep relationships is a hallmark of Gouchev Law because its founder is dedicated to understanding the goals, the operations, and the vision of its partnering companies, from large consulting firms in industries like technology and operations to marketing agencies to retail and beauty giants.
“We strive to do what a lot of other firms don’t,” Gouchev explains. “We really dive into the business practices and understand how they can be used to help make operations more efficient, where gaps in risk can be closed off, where contracts need to be reviewed with a fine-toothed comb and fiercely yet diplomatically negotiated, and where IP can be leveraged and protected.”
Overall, Gouchev has built something impressive: a firm that specializes in doing it all when it comes to a business’s legal needs. Thanks to her experience running a team at a prestigious organization prior to law school, Gouchev had the confidence to take a chance. Had she lacked this background, she says, she may have been much more reticent. Her ambition has since rubbed off on her carefully crafted team.
Gouchev sought to unite a group of diverse and empowered individuals who shared her passion for building meaningful, long-term relationships with clients. She found herself organically hiring a highly diverse staff that is virtually unmatched by any other firm of its size. At least half of the staff at Gouchev Law Group are from diverse backgrounds—a majority of the lawyers are women, people of color, and people part of the LGBT community.
“The people I work with are so smart and so genuine; I feel so lucky to have them represent the firm,” she says. Overall, Gouchev accredits her diverse and highly capable team as the main motivation behind her goal to continue growing her firm.
Recently, Gouchev hired one of her own mentors from her legal internship days doing contract law at MTV. “This was someone who was really hard on her people and I have to say was pretty intimidating at the time,” Gouchev laughs. “But I really admired her and learned so much.” This former mentor, who managed a team of eighty attorneys, decided Gouchev Law was exactly the kind of place she wanted to work. “I look at that as such a testament to where we are.”
Where is Gouchev Law heading? Its founder has built a successful, innovation-based practice that has managed to touch many different areas: large-scale consulting, IP, start-ups, and large companies’ areas of expertise. Gouchev wants the firm to become regarded as a national leader in the legal space—as a tech-focused modern law firm capable of taking businesses to the next level. That original ambition has gotten Gouchev Law to be a leader in its industry, and it’s the reason that it will continue to flourish for years to come.