Justin Portaz, Senior Marketing Coordinator, Hogan & Hartson LLP
What is your educational and professional background?
After graduating from high school in southwest Ohio I moved to Madrid, Spain, for my first two years of undergraduate study at the Madrid campus of Saint Louis University. After two years in Spain, I transferred to Georgetown University in Washington, D.C., where I completed my degree in International Business and Marketing.
With regard to my professional background, I spent two summers in college as an intern at GE Aircraft Engines in Cincinnati, Ohio. I worked with their marketing and sales team to negotiate and deliver engine service contracts to airlines in the South Asia/Pacific region. After college I began my legal marketing journey working for a leading international law firm in Washington, D.C.
What were some of the lessons or educational experiences from Georgetown University’s McDonough School of Business that help you with your job today?
Many of my Georgetown professors encouraged their students to think outside the box, and it forced us to find creative solutions to challenging issues. In addition, there was a strong emphasis on teamwork at Georgetown, which helped instill an understanding that we can learn a lot from our peers and co-workers, not just from our professors or bosses. Also, being a school with such an international student body, there was never a shortage of opportunities to meet people from different corners of the globe, which enhanced my understanding and appreciation for the variety of cultural differences in the world. This knowledge has translated well into my work by providing perspective on the ways that we should present the firm to a Japanese client versus a U.S. client versus a European client.
How did you learn about legal marketing?
I was an intern in the marketing department of an international law firm during my senior year of college. Upon graduation I was offered a full-time position. I had no previous legal marketing experience before taking the internship, but quickly realized what a unique field it is.
Tell us about your job? What are your responsibilities?
I currently manage the marketing priorities for Hogan & Hartson’s three California offices (Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Silicon Valley). This includes everything from responding to proposals and putting together pitch materials to planning events and developing strategy for profile-raising initiatives. I also work closely with local organizations; including industry and trade groups, non-profit and pro bono organizations, and leading corporations.
What do you like the most about your job? What do you find challenging?
As cliché as it sounds, I really enjoy the people that I get to work with. I have always been impressed with the quality, intellect, and creativity of our marketing team here at Hogan & Hartson, as well as the strength and diversity of our attorneys.
One of the more challenging aspects of my job is working within our budget to decide which organizations and charities we will be able to support in these delicate economic times. I am proud to say that we have not had to cut our donations, but we have not grown our charitable donations as much as we have in the past.
Understanding that non-profits need support now more than ever, I’ve placed a lot of attention on finding alternative ways to support these important organizations through grass roots programs (that don’t require a budget). I am finding that our employees are willing to get involved in supporting various organizations through volunteer work, financial contributions, and simply spreading the word to friends, family, and colleagues. We know that we can make a difference and there is a strong desire to help, so we don’t want to turn away those in need. That being said, it is vital to think creatively to develop new ways to support the organizations that are important to you and your firm. Writing a check is easy, but developing a program to provide sustainable support makes a larger impact and develops lasting relationships with the incredible people who run these important charities.
I know you are very passionate about charities. Tell us about some of your latest projects? What inspires you to give back to your community?
This year we piloted a clothing drive for business attire to benefit Chrysalis, a tremendous non-profit organization dedicated to helping economically disadvantaged and homeless individuals become self-sufficient through employment opportunities. Through generous donations given by our own employees, as well as those from other law firms and organizations throughout Los Angeles, this event was a huge success, and has become a charitable project that we will continue to run each Spring to benefit Chrysalis.
In addition, each year Hogan & Hartson and the Association of Corporate Counsel of America – Southern California Chapter (“ACCA-SoCal”) host an event called “ACColades: A Salute to Women Who Inspire Us,” where we identify one female entrepreneur or artist and one women from a non-profit, both of whom have made a significant and positive impact on our community. Hogan & Hartson created this event with ACCA-SoCal in 2003, and held our 2009 ACColades event in June at Sony Studios. We honored Barbara Carrasco, a renowned Chicana artist and muralist whose work illustrates the struggles for social justice and the complexities of identity politics. Also honored was Ivory Freeman, an incredible woman who started a small non-profit to inspire young women to realize their dreams by emphasizing the importance of academic performance, self-esteem, self-confidence, and self-sufficiency.
The desire to give back is something that courses through the halls at Hogan & Hartson. It’s not done out of obligation, but rather out of an understanding that we are blessed to be in a position to have the tools and resources to help others in need. Whether you are working on a pro bono matter or planning an event to recognize a non-profit, the hours invested become irrelevant when you experience the overwhelming gratitude that someone has for you recognizing their need, treating them with respect, and helping them take their next step towards their goals. And we see that our efforts are paid forward by those we have been fortunate enough to help.
Tell us about your commitment to health and fitness. I see you are a major runner? How many miles do you run a day/week?
I see it as absolutely essential to find a healthy work/life balance, especially when so much of our work is done sitting in front of a computer. I have run a couple of marathons, but was sidelined with a stress fracture and a knee injury. I’ve recently focused more on soccer and basketball, but still have a passion for running. The voice inside my head is pushing me to start training again, as my goal is to qualify for, and run, the Boston Marathon. That being said, I’m looking to pick my training back up in the coming months. At my peak, I was running between 60 and 80 miles per week.
Do you have other interests?
Without a doubt, international travel is my passion. I love exploring new cultures, meeting new people, and learning their stories. I have been fortunate enough to travel pretty extensively, and have covered most of western Europe, as well as Greece, Hungary, and the Czech Republic. I have also traveled to Uzbekistan, Russia, Thailand, and Australia. Later this year I will be spending a few weeks in Uganda and Rwanda.