Member Spotlight: Jaron Rubenstein Founder & President – Rubenstein Technology Group

by Sander Coxe on September 18, 2014

Rubenstein

Our Member Spotlight focuses on a relatively new LMA member – Jaron Rubenstein, the Founder & President of Rubenstein Technology Group. RubensteinTech partners with leading creative firms to build sophisticated websites and software for web and mobile platforms across the legal, real estate, non-profit, technology, and financial services sectors. RubensteinTech works with quite a few Am Law 100 and local NY firms.

Jaron joined the NYLMA in October last year and jumped in with both feet – he now co-chairs the Technology Committee with Sean Dillon and spoke in July at the Social Media SIG event held, ironically, at Rubenstein Associates (no relation). Here, he speaks with Alexander Coxe.

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Welcome to the LMA sir. We are glad to have you and we appreciate your courage in submitting to our “spotlight.”

I have to confess, I am a little nervous after reading Kelly MacKinnon’s Q&A from the last issue. I’m a bit of a workaholic and a nerd at heart – and have never coached a professional sports team – so I hope I don’t disappoint. Kelly Mack is a tough act to follow.

You’re doing great. So where did you grow up?

I was born in Brooklyn and we moved to Long Island when I was six.

Oh no, you aren’t an Islanders fan like MacKinnon are you?

No, not especially.

Good to know. So, I have to start with a tip of the cap to you as an entrepreneur. I admire anybody who can articulate a vision and see it through. How did you start out in your career and what brought you to the legal space? 

I am a software engineer by training and I have a real passion for technology and design. I started RubensteinTech in 2001 to be the technology partner of choice to top design firms and we are now about 20 people in downtown Manhattan. We have worked in other sectors – for tech startups, publishing, real estate, financial services – and a handful of years ago we did our first project for a major law firm client – Morrison & Foerster. We saw that many law firms were underserved in the market, stuck with somewhat outdated web and mobile design and technology, and based on our experiences working with other kinds of clients we saw an opportunity to more fully support marketing teams at these firms and to help advance their branding and design. We are very focused on the legal marketing sector now and our team feels like we are having a positive impact.

What did you do before you started your own company?

My first job out of school was with Lockheed Martin, writing the software that programmed engine controls for 737s. It was a great experience on so many levels. 

Very interesting. And a bit different from what you do now, yes?

I can tell you that web development is a lot less stressful than working on flight critical software systems. Nobody is going to die if you make a mistake, and you get to see the results of your work much more quickly!

Ha! Where did you get all that fancy training?

I studied both Computer Science and Psychology at Binghamton University combining the two to focus on what we now call “User Experience” design and development – we used to call it Human Factors and Human-Computer Interaction. It was serendipitous that I graduated just as the first .COM Boom was taking off, and had some great experiences working for and building software for startups.

Now that you are circulating in the legal space, do you get asked if you are related to the Rubensteins of Rubenstein PR?

Yes, most recently at the NYLMA Social Media SIG event last week, which was held at Rubenstein PR’s office! I’m not related to Rubenstein PR… as it turns out, Rubenstein is a popular name in legal. I got to meet Norm Rubenstein of Zeughauser Group at the LMA Conference in Orlando, but as far as we could dig, we are not related either. 

There is another Rubenstein on your website? Is he family?

Yes, my brother Scott joined us five 5 years ago as our Director of Client Services. Scott’s way more fun than me – you should feature him next month! I’m also lucky to have two great friends from Binghamton on our management team, we’ve worked together for more than 15 years and truly love what we do.

What’s the best thing about running your own shop and being an entrepreneur?

My 7 year old likes to say “your job is great because you have no boss!” I haven’t had the heart yet to tell him that’s because I have about 50 bosses!

Honestly, my favorite part of the work is helping to working with our clients to learn about their specific challenges and figure out how to augment and optimize their efforts with technology. I’m lucky to work with a management team and world-class engineering talent that simply don’t exist elsewhere in the industry. We’re all lucky to have access to New York-caliber talent. It’s really exciting for me to work with clients, partners, and teammates while doing new, exciting things that others said couldn’t be done. Solving problems with elegance.

What is the toughest thing about it?

While I love it, the 24/7 nature of it – it never stops – can be a challenge.

I would also say that simply keeping pace with technology change is probably the hardest thing we have to do. The pace of change just keeps increasing. The work is generally getting more interesting and exciting but even as an engineer it can be difficult to keep pace with technology. All that said, I love what we do and between mobile, tablet, and wearables I think we all have our work cut out for us in the coming years.

What would you be doing if you weren’t in your current job?

I think I can safely say that this is my dream job.

That’s a great thing to be able to say. What’s your dream project?

Rubenstein Jaron Rubenstein

We’ve had a few. The holy grail is the client that has the business need to differentiate themselves in the marketplace, and the organizational appetite and budget to make it happen. We’re actually working on a couple of projects like that now. Anytime the client has the appetite and the business need and the budget to take their project to the next level, and do something new and innovative that hasn’t been done before – that is pure joy.

Where do you live?

I moved out of Park Slope a couple of years ago, and I’m a Jersey guy now. I live in a fantastic town called Westfield with my wife, 9 year old daughter, and 7 year old son.

Nice town, how do you like suburbia?

I LOVE my town but I could do without the commute on most days. 

I hear the word “engineer,” and my cro-magnon brain assumes you have built – or they have built –some kind of amazing treehouse or structure? Have you?

Unfortunately not. I’m definitely a nerd at heart. I wrote a mobile App to teach my children how to play Chess, but no treehouses. My children have been to [our company’s corporate] data center so many times on weekends that my son asked me if they call it the “Da-da Center” because that’s where his father goes. I’m a huge fan and promoter of the World Maker Faire New York held every September at the NY Hall of Science – I highly recommend that to folks who want to foster a love of invention, creation, and engineering and join the Maker Movement.

How do you relax? Do you have some favorite TV shows? Music? Activity?

I like all kinds of music but I am most at home listening to rock and jazz. I do have a few TV shows that make time for – I love Boardwalk Empire, Homeland, and Law & Order SVU.

Rubenstein Jaron Rubenstein

I love the outdoors and always have. I’m an Eagle Scout and grew up hiking and camping… the highlight of my year is usually our annual family camping trip to the Catskills – lake fishing, boating, tent camping – the real deal. Nothing beats upstate New York, and it’s off the grid.

So these kids have an engineer/Eagle Scout for a father. It’s a safe bet they came out of the womb able to set up the tents no?

Yeah, they’ve got that down. We build these incredible box ovens together and bake cornbread and brownies at the campsite… you should join us.

My last harassing personal question – what’s your favorite food?

I’m a bit of NYC Delicatessen aficionado. My friends say I have an unhealthy focus on condiments and sauces if you must know. In fact, my colleagues gave me giant restaurant condiment dispenser as a gift last year. I am still not sure if it is joke. Give me a monstrous Corned Beef and Pastrami with a gallon of Russian dressing and you’ll get me every time.

Do you like to cook?

I love to cook, but these days that mostly means breakfast on the weekends and grilling in the summer. In the ‘burbs!

Jaron thanks so much making time for this. It’s been great to get to know you a little better and a hearty congratulations on all your success!

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