Laura Leopard is the Founder and CEO of Leopard Solutions, the largest law firm data platform serving the legal industry with actionable intelligence and insights on more than 4,200 law firms worldwide and 7,000 US corporate legal departments.

Laura’s career path is so interesting as you’ll read about in her profile. She started businesses to help sustain her acting career – so becoming an entrepreneur was a necessity for her to pursue her love of acting.

Laura spearheaded Leopard Solutions’ growth and development over the company’s 18-year history and continues to push the envelope designing new systems and data points for their expanding client base.

She began her career as an actress in her hometown of Nashville, Tennessee, and moved to New York to pursue greater opportunities. Laura keeps her hand in the “acting game,” performing with yet another successful entrepreneurial venture, Gotham Radio Theatre, which she founded in 2010.

Learn more about Laura and her career path.

Why did you choose your profession?
It chose me actually. I was an actress and a serial entrepreneur, who was always looking for a side gig that could last to help sustain my acting career. This was perfect. I could do this work from anywhere and still travel with acting jobs. My life changed when I fell in love, got married and wanted to stay more at home. So, my focus changed and I poured my creativity and drive into Leopard Solutions.

What do you love most about what you do?
I love taking a small idea, developing it and then watching it come to life. I love being able to create something new and innovative and then have users love it as well. It gives me great joy.

Tell us about a woman you look up to and why.
I look up to so many. All the firsts, all the women who went before me and stood up to bias and society’s conventions. Conventions that existed to keep them in their place. Florence Nightingale, Susan B. Anthony, Madame Curie, Heddy Lamar, Amelia Earhart, Billie Jean King, Rosa Parks- it took enormous courage for all of them to succeed and to make it easier for all of us that came behind them.

Women confront bias every day in one form or another. We are still teaching men that it is not right to ‘tell us to smile’ so there is still a long way to go. I have confronted sexism, at times even within my own company. These women faced so many obstacles should be revered and remembered. It is up to us all to keep working toward equality in their name. We owe them that debt.

Do you have a mentor?
I don’t have a mentor, but I do have people I look up to. I love everything Apple and was a big Steve Jobs fan. He had his faults but he was unafraid to try anything. People tend to lose that daring as time passes, but he didn’t. He was fearlessly innovative until the end.

We are embarking on a new idea at Leopard Solutions that requires some fearlessness on our part and I couldn’t be happier about it. The chance of failure is always nearby no matter what you do but one thing is for certain, if you don’t try, you fail automatically. I hope I continue to take those risks until my dying day.

Any advice to young women who want to succeed in the workplace?
Do something that makes you happy. If you hate your job, you hate your life. Find something that interests you and that you are either good at or willing to apply what is needed to be ‘good’ at it. Your work takes up enormous space in your life and to dedicate that much time and effort, you must enjoy it. There is nothing worse than hating your job, it can inflict harm in your life in so many ways.

What do you wish you could tell your younger self?
Don’t be afraid, worthwhile things don’t come easily. Be prepared to fight for what you want and be prepared to earn it every step of the way.

What is the best career advice you’ve ever received?
When I was a struggling actress and waiting tables at An American Place in Manhattan, one of our busboys said to me “Why do you work here? You are so smart, you could do so much more.” My answer was pretty telling, ‘because I am an actress….’ It must have sounded like a pretty weak reply because he shook his head in dismay. I knew that he was right, I should be doing something else. I had too many actor friends who were waiting tables at advanced ages and I did not want that to be me.

I ended up starting a small venture with a friend and when that was over, we ended up starting The Leopard List together a few years later. I have had several businesses over the years and while they were not all successful, they taught me something useful each time. I have really put my ‘all’ into Leopard Solutions and it has paid dividends. I can’t say the same for all of my other ventures, so my commitment to its success was an important ingredient. I needed that kick in the pants to put me on the right road.

How do you achieve work/life balance?
I had no balance early on in the company. I was taking sales calls on my honeymoon! (I have a very understanding husband). Getting this company off the ground took a lot of work, and I mean A LOT of work. I am much better about balance now and understand that time off is needed to keep those creative juices flowing!

I even started my own theatre company on the side (Gotham Radio Theatre) and it has brought me a lot of joy. I know it ‘sounds’ like more work but it is a labor of love each time. I have a busy but somewhat balanced life! When not working, I love being at home – the pandemic lockdown has not been as hard for me as being home is such a treat!

Which woman most inspires you and why?
My mother is pretty inspirational. She absolutely radiates goodness, I have never seen anything like it. She is beautiful both inside and out. She acted as the main caregiver for my father for several years before his death and absolutely devoted herself to him. When things got tough, my parents moved into an assisted living facility so that she could have help nearby for him. She was six years younger and in good condition but she moved there to be with him and make sure he had the help he needed.

Instead of feeling sorry for herself, she CHOSE to be happy. She knew it would take a conscious decision and that is what she did. It was remarkable and that decision saved her own well-being and gave my dad the care he needed. She now lives independently but in a senior facility where she paints, dances, has a ton of friends and served as ‘Queen’ for a year. It was a lesson I will always remember. Happiness is a choice.

What do you think is the key for success in a role like yours?
Staying curious is essential in life and in business. What is next? What will we need? What happens when I press this button?? When we stop being curious, we stop growing. There is always something that you don’t know and there is always something new to try and new coming on the horizon. Stay curious and you will stay relevant.

What advice would you give to female entrepreneurs?

Most businesses fail because they never begin. They die as an idea because the first step was never taken. You don’t have to have an MBA to start a business. You don’t have to have 3 floors of office space either. If you believe in your idea, work to make it a reality.

I started all of my ventures with very little money, but some took more than others. I was not wealthy, any seed money came from money I earned elsewhere. You shouldn’t be afraid of taking money when the terms are right, but you don’t need financing to start your idea.

Once you have started your business, be ready to end it if you see there is no future. Failure can be just another stepping stone to success.

I learned lessons from every business I started. Those businesses prepared me for when I landed upon an idea that had real opportunity and staying power.

Learn more about Leopard Solutions.