How did you get started in the legal marketing industry?
Like many others in the legal marketing industry, I fell into the industry. I originally wanted to start a career in the arts. I’ve always wanted to work at a museum and after undergraduate I interned at the de Young Museum with the education department. I loved every moment of the experience and quickly learned that my peers were all in graduate school in museum studies or museum education. I wanted to stand out from my peers and an opportunity came up where I had a chance to go to business school. I earned my masters in marketing with the intention of going back to the arts industry. After graduating, finding a job in the arts was much more difficult than I anticipated. So, I worked with a recruiter and ended up in my current position at Donahue Fitzgerald LLP.
What is your favorite part of being a member of LMA?
The people. When I first joined LMA, my first LMA event was attending the annual conference. As someone who was new to the legal marketing industry, I was surprised at how everyone was quick to help each other. It’s an extremely open and supportive community of professionals who genuinely care about the success of their peers.
How has being a member of LMA impacted you in your profession?
The LMA made a tremendous impact in my profession and still is. It’s actually the reason why I’m still in the industry. I consider myself new to the industry after 2.5 years and find there’s still much more for me to learn. The LMA is an invaluable investment in my career as there are so many resources from the SIG groups to the webinars and the annual conferences.
In fact, because I’ve gained so much from LMA, I wanted to give back by volunteering. I’ve gotten so much out of the webinars that volunteering with the LMA Bay’s programming committee was a no brainer for me. It didn’t require an exorbitant amount of time out of my schedule, I learned how to put on webcasts, and I met some amazing people along the way. I’m not getting paid to say this, but if you’re interested in volunteering even if it’s not in the programming committee, let me know! We’re always ready to welcome new volunteers!
What is the greatest challenge that legal marketers are currently facing?
We’ve all probably heard this before, but catching up with other industries especially in the realm of diversity and inclusion. I attended a diversity panel at the Atlanta annual conference and one of the panelists stated that D&I isn’t just nice to do, but that it’s a critical business imperative. I know the legal industry is making headway, but there’s still more we can do.
What is one secret you have about working with attorneys?
We all know attorneys are extremely busy and their schedules are always up in the air from last minute court appearances to major filings, so always have at least two deadlines. Never tell attorneys the real deadline. Provide them with an initial deadline understanding that they may not meet it. Having these extra deadlines definitely saved me a couple times. This is a tip I actually learned from someone within LMA and I’ve passed this advice onto others as well. Proof that we’re all looking out for each other.
What advice would you give to someone new to law firm business development?
Get to know your attorneys. Not only should you understand their practice, but really try to get to know them as people. Like we tell our attorneys to grab coffee, lunch, drinks, dinner with their clients, go for a coffee run or grab lunch with them. You’ll be surprised at what you can learn by simply stepping outside the office.
What projects are you excited about currently?
I recently completed a rebrand project, which included the creation of a new tagline and an updated website. Now we’re looking to create a business development coaching plan to help our attorneys hone their BD skills and equip them with the right tools. I’m hoping they’ll be able to even learn something new about themselves.
What are your favorite things to do outside of work?
Although I’m no longer working in the art industry, it’s still something that I want to keep a part of my life, so I love visiting art museums. I also make it a point to visit at least one art museum when I travel and try to visit all the newest art exhibitions in the city. I also take ceramic classes at my local community center and have been for the past 3 years. Although it’s challenging, it’s a great way to destress and a fun way to engage in making something with my hands. It’s always rewarding when I actually use what I make.
What would people be most surprised to learn about you?
I’m the oldest of four girls. My youngest sister and I are 12 years apart, so there’s never a dull moment in my family.
What book are you currently reading?
I’m currently reading Hanya Yanaghara’s “A Little Lie.” I really love reading fiction as another way to destress, but also enjoy reading nonfiction as well. I’ll alternate between fiction and nonfiction and I’m the type of person who has to finish one book before picking up the next. The last nonfiction book I enjoyed reading was Daniel Coyle’s “Culture Code,” which explores how you build great culture and sustain it in a group. The next fiction book in the queue is Sally Rooney’s “Normal People” and the next nonfiction book is Brene Brown’s “Daring Greatly.”
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Laura Ernde is a San Francisco-based communications consultant. A former legal affairs journalist and State Bar of California communications director, she helps law firms and legal marketing agencies with content strategy and content creation. Connect with her via LinkedIn and Twitter. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
The next program in the LMA Bay Area, Advancing Your Career in Legal Marketing, features insights from speakers Kate Harry Shipham, Principal of KHS People and Clare Ota, Senior Marketing and Business Development Manager at Bryan Cave Leighton Paisner.
Date & Time: Thursday, August 8th from 11:30am - 1:15pm
**VOLUNTEER INFORMATION SESSION 30 MINUTES PRIOR at 11am **
Location: Bar Association of San Francisco