LMASW Member Spotlight - Amy Verhulst

Name: Amy Verhulst

Position: 2020 LMA Southwest Region President

Family: Kurt (husband), children Claire and Grant

Hometown: Texas City, Texas

Education: B.A. Mass Communications - Advertising

What was your very first job, how old were you and what was the biggest takeaway from the experience?

I worked part time at an old-fashioned pharmacy with a soda fountain and sandwich board starting at the age of 14. I worked three hours on Saturdays, from 8am-11am, making coffee, sandwiches and malts for customers. I learned the value of connecting with people through small talk and relatable stories. Most of my customers were senior citizens and they loved to talk about their past with me, stories from the good ol’ days over two cups of coffee that cost a whopping $.50 total.

At what point in your life did you realize you wanted to pursue a legal career and why are you passionate about your profession?

I fell into my legal marketing career about five years after graduating from college. I worked with Amy Warmke, my then boss turned mentor, at Ernst & Young during college and the summer after graduation on their signature Entrepreneur of the Year® (EOY) program. Amy and I kept in touch, and she approached me with a Marketing Coordinator position at Andrews Kurth – working for the very same lawyers who supported the EOY program and hosted the program’s infamous post-event party.  At the time, I had never considered a career in legal marketing.  I wasn’t aware that it was an option.  In thinking about the opportunity, it was right in line with my career trajectory. Up until that point, I had worked at a Big 4 accounting firm, the (then) largest venture capital firm based in the southwest US, and for a technology entrepreneur – all in Austin, Texas. Everyone I had reported to and/or worked for had similar traits: they were all C-level executives, in professional services (where time is literally money), performing under pressure, usually type-A personalities, and basically, were super important folks. Why not take a shot at doing marketing for attorneys?  Fifteen years later, I am passionate about my profession, because I have seen the value that legal marketing professionals are able to deliver on all levels: firm-wide, practice and geography specific, down to the individual attorneys. My goal in all that I do is to be a difference maker, and I am presented that opportunity each day at my firm and in my service in leadership to the members of LMA and the LMA Southwest Region.

What time do you typically get up on a workday, and what’s your ideal morning routine to get it off to a great start?

I wake up around 4:15/4:30am, workout at 5:00am, and am out the door with my two children by 7:00am. My morning routine starts the night before with lunches, bags and backpacks packed, clothes laid out for everyone, and the alarm set on my phone. It’s a great day if I can get the dishwasher unloaded, reloaded and started, and a load of laundry in the wash before I wake up the kids. It’s an even better day when I remember to start with a  warm mug of lemon water (followed by a cup of coffee), read my daily Meditations passage, and set out my top five goals for the day.

What’s something about your job that might surprise people?

I am the first FTE focused on marketing and business development at my firm, a 70-attorney law firm with six offices across Texas and in Louisiana and Ohio.  I designed the marketing operations, tools and procedures that we utilize to this day – five years later. I am a department of one with a phenomenal assistant that I share with three other department managers. Together, we provide marketing, business development and communications strategies and services firm-wide.

What’s the greatest personal or professional obstacle you’ve had to overcome, and how did you do it?

One interesting moment that challenged me, was when I presented my marketing status report at a Director’s (Partner’s) meeting at my current firm. One of the directors looked right at me and said, “I do not understand why we pay your salary.” This was immediately after I had quantified my value by explaining what marketing (aka me) had done for the firm in the previous 12 months, including significant initiatives and the ROI received. I also explained how my direct efforts had benefited current and new clients of the firm for over four years to the tune of $12.1 M fees received at the time of this particular meeting.  And still, this director personally did not see the value that I brought to the firm. I had to keep my composure, acknowledge his statement, and restate my value – which I did with grace.

What are your best productivity hacks?

My best productivity hack is old-school, and it has served me well for almost 20 years: every morning, I print out my task list from Outlook tasks. I mark my top five tasks for the day and then denote my top one of the five. I tackle the list in that order. I record notes from phone conversations and anything that pops-up during day on to the backside. At the end of the day, all new tasks are added back into Outlook tasks. This process keeps me organized and ready for the next day.

What’s a leadership skill you’ve learned the hard way?

Delegation is one leadership skill that I honed later I should have.  It’s tough for a type-A person to hand off critical pieces of a project, but as a leader it’s imperative to the success of the team. Delegating implies trust and it empowers your team members to take control and complete the job.

What are some of your hobbies or favorite things to do in your free time?

When I snag a little free time, I typically am hanging out with my family.

Tell us about some of your volunteer efforts in the community and why you support those causes/organizations.

I am a firm believer in utilizing your talents in service and support to others and to support causes near and dear to your heart. I am involved in my church and my children’s schools. Throughout my career, I have served on non-profits boards when called or gently nudged by colleagues. This is a great way to meet others in your community that you otherwise may never have crossed paths with.

You’re taking me out to a business lunch in Houston. Where are we going and what do you recommend I order?

I love Tinyboxwood’s for a soup/salad/sandwich type of lunch. If it’s not sweltering, you can enjoy lunch al fresco in the gardens.  You must order the chocolate chip cookie when you’re there.

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