By Bobbie Conklin, business development manager at Steptoe & Johnson PLLC
Kelley Goes is chief client development officer at Jackson Kelly in West Virginia, where she manages a team of legal marketers across the firm’s regional footprint. In this interview, she addresses why she chooses to be a Legal Marketing Association member (#WhyILMA), providing insight on the benefits of LMA and how its resources have helped her balance the demands of her legal marketing role and her robust law practice.
Why did you decide to join the Legal Marketing Association?
The available resources at the LMA site and activities are impressive. Since our marketing shop is small and the scope of “legal marketing” can be broad, the access to LMA materials is helpful in addressing larger, more long-term projects, even when we are swept up in the more mundane day-to-day tasks for lawyers.
You’ve been involved with a number of professional organizations. What sets LMA apart?
The quality of the materials and the focus on content. Many professional organizations default to networking. With LMA, the networking is actually part of the content. LMA also fosters a sense of collaboration that is pleasant and helpful.
As you are in your first position as a legal marketing professional, can you talk about the differences in your previous positions and the legal marketing arena?
Ordinarily when you are in charge of a department or an organization, you are in charge. Legal marketing is slightly different. Marketing is actually ancillary to the practice of law, and yet lawyers are essential to the process. And, let us be clear, lawyers are trained to analyze and shred every concept. Having said that, I think that once the foundation is established for a course of action or marketing decisions, lawyers are happy to turn over this stuff to anyone else. The key is “making your case” up front with “evidence,” and this is an excellent exercise.
You are located in West Virginia, which is a fairly small market for the legal industry. How have you used your LMA membership in this market?
The video presentations and the chat boards have been really helpful – especially during COVID-19. For starters, it’s just nice to have a peer group. Since I am new to LMA, I am looking forward to leveraging networking opportunities to continue to meet fellow legal marketers.
During the pandemic, how has LMA been professionally beneficial to you?
I don’t have to begin without resources. I generally know what it is that I want to accomplish, and LMA has members and resources to get me started with planning and implementation.
You’ve been a client, you’ve been a lawyer, and you’ve been a legal marketer. What have you learned in your past roles that prepared you for this position?
I can keep everyone’s point of view in mind when crafting communications. The key to marketing is communication. And the key to successful marketing is communicating how you are going to solve someone’s problem. I can relate to the problems that clients have. I also can relate to the types of pressure that lawyers are under, and we work hard to make sure that we are not wasting lawyers’ time. Also, I’ve been practicing for 25 years, and I try to use all of that experience to get lawyers started on marketing early and naturally. Finally, I understand the business case on both ends of the transaction. I know how law firms make money, and I know what it’s like to have to find a budget for legal bills.
How do you balance your responsibilities as a practicing lawyer and a legal marketer?
There’s no balance. Some days, it’s all marketing, some days it’s all practice – and some of those days get quite long.
What advice would you give to your younger self as it relates to your career?
Take more vacations. Really. The work will still be there. I went back to Dallas a few years ago – which is where my legal career began – and I have to say that I was quite proud of younger Kelley for just loading up a car and heading down to the Big D to work at Big Law. I hope older and “wiser” Kelley keeps taking those risks, ignoring all of the skyscrapers and traffic, and focusing on interesting challenges.
When you aren’t working, what do you enjoy doing?
I have two teenaged daughters, so if I am not working, odds are I am ferrying one or both to practices, events, etc. When they are not making me absolutely crazy, I enjoy activities with them or just getting their perspective on life. All too soon, we will be empty nesters. When it’s just me, the dog and I hang out and needlepoint. When my husband and I can get away, my happy place is hiking in Scotland, followed by a wee dram (Scotch Wiskey).