Past President Compendium: Succeeding

One of our initiatives for the new Midwest Region is the Past Leader Initiative, where we’ll be featuring insights each quarter from former LMA Chapter leaders. This quarter, we asked past LMA leaders to share the best advice they ever received about succeeding in the industry. From diplomacy and ownership to learning and curiosity, here are 13 pieces of the best advice past LMA leaders have ever received about succeeding in their roles.

  • Come prepared. When you want to roll out a new initiative, come to the table with data to support your position, consider the constituencies that will be affected, ensure you've thought through and documented the process, and articulate the benefits succinctly. In addition to this, think through the various objections that could present themselves and develop a response. You may not need all of this ammunition, but it will ensure you effectively communicate the idea and will have a greater likelihood of obtaining buy in.
    Adam Severson, Baker Donelson
  • Follow the same advice we give to our lawyers about what will drive their perceived value. If we are not actively anticipating how we are building relationships, depositing value in every interaction, and anticipating the challenges they have; it's hard for us to have integrity or build the level of trust to get our lawyers to follow us.
    - Alycia Sutor, Growth Play
  • Never undervalue your confidence. Taking on a leadership role in a firm can be intimidating, but lawyers have to respect you in order to take your advice and act on it. Make sure your words are direct and your presence is undeniable.
    - Jeff Dennis, Kegler Brown
  • Always remember that the attorneys at your firm are your clients. You should give them the same excellent client service the firm gives to its clients and provide value every time you interact with the attorneys. Whether it is suggesting a new marketing idea, providing insight on their business development plans, or just offering a listening ear when they need some feedback, make sure each and every interaction is a positive one.
    - Liz Boehm, Benesch
  • Get to know the people you work with, lawyers and staff alike.  Developing personal relationships helps build a solid support structure for succeeding in legal marketing.
    - Georgene Davison, Thompson Hine
  • Always remember who owns the firm. Pick your battles wisely and get early buy-in with a few active rainmakers. Having someone in your corner goes along way when introducing new initiatives or changing old habits.
    - Jeanne Kostelnik, Gallagher Sharp
  • Be a lifelong student. Put yourself in situations every day to learn something new. Be curious, which will put you in a position to be of value to your firm and attorneys. Whether it’s something I picked up at the annual conference, from a mentor, article, webinar or even a chat in an LMA SIG – these tidbits have helped me add flavor to a conversation, be someone’s go-to person, or lead a discussion. It always elevates my credibility to be in the know about trends, market changes, or the industry in general.
    - Jennifer Shankleton, Brouse McDowell
  • The legal industry is incredibly unique for many reasons. The first thing I encourage anyone entering the exciting world of legal marketing to do is simple: get involved in LMA. I mean REALLY get involved. Start going to chapter events, network with colleagues from area law firms, get a better understanding for how the legal world operates. As with anything else in life, you’ll get out of it exactly what you put into it, so go forth and dive into the many resources that LMA has to offer.
    - Jill Clark, Bricker & Eckler
  • Get involved, stay involved. Take advantage of all of the resources (programming, networking and mentorship programs) that LMA offers to really learn your craft. Get involved in a committee, the board, etc. Your involvement in LMA is often the way to network yourself to your next job.
    - Joy Long, Ostrow, Reisen, Berk & Abrams
  • Don’t fake it – if you’re unclear about something an attorney said or direction for a project, ask questions. Attorneys are smart and can quickly tell when you don’t know or are unsure and you will lose their trust, which is very hard to gain back.
    - Kelly Klopotek, Gray Plant Mooty
  • Be intellectually curious about the law and what lawyers do. When you have questions about that, ask the lawyers because they are happy to share more about what they do.
    - Leslie Delfs, Fish & Richardson
  • Don’t try to boil the ocean. Take small successes and use these to build momentum.
    - Mark Elliott, Eastman & Smith
  • Always be diplomatic. No matter how much a certain attorney and/or situation may bother you and you want to be brutally honest with the person responsible, take a deep breath and figure out the best way to handle the situation to the satisfaction of that person. They will certainly remember it.
    - Rich Marsolais, Jaffe
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