Profile by Jonathan Groner, Freelance Writer and Public Relations Consultant
As our region’s co-director of programming, Tahisha Fugate is intensely involved in planning our programs for 2019, including our second annual conference, which is set for November in downtown D.C. This is just one of the many involvements that make Tahisha’s days and weeks busy and interesting.
Tahisha joined the D.C. office of Paul Hastings LLP as a business development manager in September 2018. At Paul Hastings, she works closely with the firm’s global practices that focus on investigations and white-collar criminal defense, complex litigation and arbitration, and securities litigation. She’s responsible for formulating long-term strategies that are aligned with the firm’s overall goals and objectives, developing and growing relationships with current and prospective clients, and raising each practice’s profile in a number of regions in which Paul Hastings maintains offices domestically and internationally.
“Having an opportunity to engage with attorneys and colleagues around the world is pretty awesome. I have colleagues in Hong Kong, London and Paris that I get to work closely with, and I’ve learned a lot from them professionally and culturally,” Tahisha says.
She’s been a legal marketer for over 15 years, holding positions at AmLaw 100 firms in the D.C. area. Determined to progress in her career, Tahisha decided to go back to school to obtain her MBA in organizational management while she was working at McKenna Long & Aldridge.
“That was one of the hardest challenges of my life. I was a single mom of a school-aged kid with a very demanding job. I don’t think I slept for two years. It’s been one of my proudest accomplishments. I am the only person in my family with an MBA,” says Tahisha.
Tahisha’s key to day-to-day success in legal marketing is to take advantage of the opportunities to engage with your lawyers and learn from your colleagues. Tahisha is passionate about the need for diversity and inclusion in the legal profession – and in legal marketing. She serves on the LMA International’s Diversity & Inclusion Committee and has been a strong voice for change in this respect in our profession.
“Although the industry is getting better, we still have a lot of work to do,” she says. “Look around and ask yourself how many African American CMOs are out there? How many successful African American consultants are there in our industry? Very few. We struggle sometimes just to get into the room. We face many of the same challenges as diverse lawyers in law firms.”
Tahisha has worked at several firms since she started in legal marketing in 2003 and has moved up in the profession, but says she’s often struggled with finding a career path at one particular firm.
“I have friends and colleagues who have managed to forge a career path in their firms, advancing in title and responsibilities; however, I haven’t had success in that regard and that’s not unusual among legal marketers of color. Things are getting better but we have work to do in helping legal marketers of color gain the skills and visibility needed to go after those senior-level positions. The onus is also on us to push our own careers, find mentors and stick with them, put ourselves out there speaking, writing, and so on. We can be thought leaders and create a lane for ourselves.”
Tahisha says she’s proud of LMA for having engaged the diversity issue and faced the realities. “I have been raising my hand when it comes to writing and speaking on the issue. People want more information on this subject, and I feel that I can help provide it. I also feel that it’s going to help the integrity of our profession for junior marketers to see more professionals that look like them,” she says.
In her spare time, Tahisha, who has a 16-year-old son and a four-year-old daughter, serves as the Vice President of the Southern Prince George’s County Chapter of Mocha Moms, Inc., a national organization that supports women of color as they journey through all phases of motherhood.