Meet Laura Shovlowsky

Laura ShovlowskyLaura Shovlowsky
President
Big Idea Agency

How long have you been in legal marketing?

11 years.

What do you think has changed about the industry or the role as a legal marketer since you started?

I am most excited by the developments during the past few years which include a deeper focus on sales and being more strategic about marketing and business development priorities. There is now a direct line between marketing professionals, incoming revenue and client retention. Not all that long ago, attorneys would recoil if they were compared to salespeople, or if it was suggested that they approach new business with a salespersons mindset.

The next step? I think we are all going to see more in-house "sales people" join the marketing team. Some firms have already moved in this direction. These will be folks who set up meetings with potential clients, attend the meetings and close the deal. They will attend the networking dinners that the attorneys loathe.

What was your path to law firm marketing?

Like many people, it was a circuitous path. I was a senior account executive with a PR and marketing firm representing hotels, restaurants, consumer products and several law firms. One of my law firm clients asked me to join their marketing department. While I was intrigued about the possibility of going in-house (I didn't really know what that meant at the time). I did not want to relocate to San Francisco. I was then recommended for a position with Heller Ehrman's Los Angeles office. It seems to me that few people in this profession sought this career path, it sought them.

What advice would you give to someone who is starting out in law firm marketing?

The first year in a law firm — particularly if you are entering from the "outside" — can be frustrating. Don't give up on the profession or the position until you have stayed at least one year. This is a great profession which is certainly not without its flaws, but rewarding nonetheless.

Tell us about your current position? What are your role and responsibilities?

I am currently with a very progressive law firm called Liner Yankelevitz Sunshine & Regenstreif LLP (LYS&R). I am the first dedicated marketing professional and, as such, am responsible for everything from creating the brand and generating visibility for the firm, to guiding the attorneys on business development initiatives. It is very rewarding to come into a situation like this — you see and feel immediate progress. You know that whatever happens down the road, you are making improvements/changes upon which the firm will continue to build.

What was the transition like going from a global firm to a regional firm?

One of the biggest mindset shifts I have had to make is to consider ALL marketing opportunities to ensure I'm not ignoring one that, while not appropriate for my previous firm, which was global, would be great for LYS&R. There are marketing opportunities that I would never have considered before, but now are on my radar screen.

Also, the resources are different. With a global firm, much of the resources are in-house. With a regional firm, you are responsible for finding, hiring and working with a variety of consultants (if you are fortunate to have a budget to hire this support). It is a completely different relationship. Also, at a global firm you become a specialist and live, eat and breath a very narrow slice of the pie. With a regional firm, you have the opportunity to sharpen or develop a wide range of skill sets. You look at the firm as a whole, not just one or two distinct and separate pieces.

How long have you been in LMA? Have you held any LMA-LA board positions?

I have been involved with LMA since 1998 and have served as the Membership Chair and President.

What have been the most rewarding aspects of being an LMA member?

The camaraderie. I can't stress enough how important it is to cultivate a circle of people whom you can call for advice or a reality check. I have called complete strangers to ask a question — the only commonality was LMA.

What do you do for fun? Do you have any hobbies?

My hobbies include ceramics and boogie boarding, but my true love is softball. I am a certified professional umpire, focusing on high school fast pitch. I also play softball.

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