Recently, I sat down with Wiley Rein’s CMO Alina Gorokhovsky to discuss her illustrious legal marketing career. She offered the following insights and advice.
Alina didn’t set out on a path to lead strategic growth through marketing and business development initiatives for law firms as she graduated from business school. Rather, she worked for British Petroleum (BP) in London and was invited to sit on the company’s teams negotiating complex, high-profile, international deals. She found herself increasingly being pitched by many large law firms. In shaping and vetting proposals, she recalls seeing the good, the bad, and the ugly. While at BP, she was recruited by Baker & McKenzie to help steer the firm’s expansion into the former Soviet Union, providing support with business development strategy and launching a wide range of new client initiatives in Russia, Ukraine, Kazakhstan, and Azerbaijan. Returning to the United States in 2002, Alina discovered that legal marketing had evolved into one of the fastest growing industries, and she joined the ranks of the trailblazers we know today.
After nine years at McKenna Long & Aldridge LLP, where she was the firm’s first Chief Strategy Officer, Alina decided to form a consulting firm and was working with a wide range of clients within and beyond the legal sector, including the World Bank/IFC, the State of Colorado, the Washington, D.C. Economic Development Partnership, and several law firms—including Wiley Rein. Alina was invited to join Wiley Rein as CMO in May 2014 after a short few months consulting with the firm. Alina says it quickly became clear that Wiley Rein’s focused, cutting-edge practice areas and culture made it an attractive choice not only for her, but for summer associates, laterals and partners alike. Now, with her team of 14 intact, her priority projects include a website refresh, implementation of new CRM systems, and strategic business development efforts.
Alina relays that she has always enjoyed working with smart people, so law firms were a logical fit. The keys to her success have been in building great teams and constantly knowing the answer to one question—what value does my firm deliver? From there, she builds marketing and business development teams that execute strategic, innovative programs that move the needle and continue to build the credibility of marketing in the business of law.
Alina doesn’t hesitate to name what she considers her most prized professional accomplishment—it is seeing so many of the young professionals she has worked with through the years ascend the ranks of law firm marketing organizations as well as LMA leadership. “The industry has come so far,” she says, because of smart, driven and dedicated professionals who execute and show value every day. Alina stresses the importance of having and being mentors—people who will allow you to experiment and make mistakes in order to grow. She tells LMA members, “Fail, but do it quickly. All great leaders have at least one big failure in their past.” She also urges LMA members to have passions outside of legal marketing, saying that outside activities can be an incredible source of inspiration and innovation to your day-to-day practice.
When asked if she has read any good books lately, Alina confessed to being completely addicted to audio books. She is revisiting classics like “To Kill A Mockingbird” and nonfiction stories presented in novelistic style like “The Devil in the White City.” She also contributed to the book, “The Responsive City,” by Stephen Goldsmith and Susan Crawford. The book is a guide to civic engagement and governance in the digital age that will help leaders link important breakthroughs in technology and data analytics with age-old lessons of small-group community input to create more agile, competitive, and economically resilient cities.
By Michelle McWinney, Navigate Recruiting, for the September/October 2014 issue of the Capital Ideas Newsletter.