For the latest installment of our LMA Northeast Q&A Positioning Yourself for Success series with industry leaders designed to provide our future leaders with career advice, tips and strategies, we sat down with Philadelphia-based Gina Furia Rubel, the founder and CEO of Furia Rubel Communications, Inc. We asked Gina for her best tips on effectively managing your career, and how to become the best version of your professional self.
How did you get started in legal marketing?
I have always loved proactive communications. In fact, my undergraduate degree is in corporate communications and international business, and I worked as the director of marketing and corporate communications for several technology companies early in my career. I later went to law school and served as a Philadelphia judicial law clerk and became a litigator handling many high-profile and, in some cases, internationally publicized trials. Soon after, I saw an opportunity to capitalize on my two loves, communications and the law. It was a natural fit to launch Furia Rubel, a legal marketing and public relations agency. Now I get to enjoy the best of both worlds.
What do you think is the key for success as a legal marketer today?
The keys for success for legal marketers can be found in my favorite book, The Four Agreements, by Don Miguel Ruiz. He identifies four principles to practice, in essence, agreements to make with yourself, in order to create happiness in your life. These principles apply to every person--personally and professionally – especially those working in the fast-paced, highly-charged legal market. The agreements are:
- Be impeccable with your word.
- Don’t take anything personally.
- Don’t make assumptions.
- Always do your best.
This book was, and remains, my saving grace. It is easy to get sucked into the hectic lifestyle and belief that everything must be done with emergent expediency within law firms. Take a step back and apply these rules – it makes a world of difference.
What is the best career advice that you ever received?
The best career advice I received when going into legal marketing was, “Join the LMA!” I was advised to surround myself with experienced LMA professionals, and to get to know the smartest, most entrenched legal marketers. I was fortunate to be adopted into the LMA community in 2004 when I was invited to speak on legal marketing and ethics at LMA Southeast by Catherine Ruth Felton.
Two years later, Ross Fishman invited me to co-present a QuickStart program at LMA National in Denver. It was there that Nancy Myrland invited me to attend a TweetUp where I got to know and became friends with many of the legal marketers who are still involved today with the LMA Social Media and Digital SIG. I could go on and on naming people in LMA all of whom have contributed to my success, personally and professionally, and many of whom are close personal friends.
What do you wish you could tell your younger professional self?
I would have told myself don’t be afraid to say no. As one of my business mentors, Neen James, taught me early on, “No” is a full sentence. If you are interviewing for an in-house position or you are a strategic service provider and the other party doesn’t want to pay you what you’re worth, don’t be afraid to walk away, say no. If you know instinctually that working with someone is going to be bad business, say no (this applies to business development for law firms and service providers). If the attorney you are working with sets impossible-to-meet expectations of the results they are asking from you, manage their expectations and sometimes that means that you have to say no. If you need to spend time with your family instead of networking at events five nights a week, say no. Your quality of life still matters.
What do you love most about what you do?
Besides the people with whom I work at Furia Rubel, and the brilliant legal marketers with whom we regularly collaborate, my favorite thing about my job is applying strategy and vision to deliver results for our clients. Every time we execute a successful marketing campaign or land a big media story, I get excited.
I also enjoy being able to safeguard our clients’ best interests, and many times that means keeping them out of the spotlight when we handle their reputation management, trial publicity and crisis communications.
Also, at the end of the day, it’s important to have fun. I often hear it said to students that they should pursue careers in areas they love because, “It’s not work if you love what you do.” I left the formal practice of law because I didn’t enjoy the negotiation dance. I am much more suited for proactive, positive and planned communications. Public relations for lawyers and legal service providers, and marketing for lawyers and other professionals are my passions. I am happy doing what I do every day, and while the work can be challenging (and sometimes sad, when we deal with high-profile, highly-publicized litigation matters where individuals have dealt with tragedies), we always know that we are making a difference.