As part of a series with leaders in the LMA Northeast designed to provide our Future Leaders with career advice, as well as tips and strategies for becoming their best professional selves, we asked Paula Zirinsky, Global Chief Marketing Officer at K2 Intelligence and current member of the LMA New York Local Steering Committee about her career path and tips for professional success.
What do you think is the key for success as a legal marketer today?
First and foremost you must continually add value to your clients, which when you are in-house at a law firm are your lawyers. Learn and know their practice areas and key clients. Keep up-to-date on issues and news relevant to their practice. If you see an item in the news that would be useful to them, send it along. But when you do, make sure they know why you are sending it and what the dots were that you connected specifically back to them. When your clients know you are interested and knowledgeable about their work, you earn their trust and respect. The more value you add, the more successful you will be.
What is the best career advice that you ever received?
A partner at one of my firms – a woman with children – once told me and an associate who was pregnant at the same time to, “Work as hard as you can when your kids are very small because as they get older they will need you and your time more.” As I have long since learned, this was so true.
What do you love most about what you do?
What I love most about my work is that each day is never the same and presents a new opportunity and something new to learn about. While it is true that legal marketers work really hard and for long hours we can’t lose sight that we are there working behind the scenes doing pitches, research or PR on newsworthy business issues and legal or regulatory developments, which are often high-profile. It’s fun to pick up the business section of a newspaper and see articles that are focused on work you did for partners and practices the week before.
How did you get started in legal marketing?
I was recruited to my first law firm after spending a period of time at a strategic corporate communications boutique where I worked for Daimler-Benz. I transitioned from supporting a few key players in the Daimler C-Suite to more than 100 partners at the firm. News bureau PR was a relatively new concept for law firms at that time but one I was well versed in and something that appealed to the firm. I treated the entire partnership as my clients, creating a menu of opportunities so I could touch them in some way. I was an outsider that took the time to learn what everyone did.
What is your greatest personal achievement?
I’ve had the opportunity to work for some pretty incredible law firms – both big and small. During that time I crossed paths with many who helped me hone my craft, both in law firm communications and marketing/business development, giving time and guidance that was invaluable. I’m a big believer in paying it forward and try to make the time for others who reach out to me to do the same.
I’m also a big believer in giving back to the wider community – for me that has meant the Girl Scout Council of Greater New York. The law firms for which I have worked have always been supportive of my commitment to the Girl Scouts and have helped where they could, be it hosting the girls to sell cookies in their offices or inviting inner city troops to spend a day to learn about different future career paths.
What is your favorite quote?
I have two: First one by Albert Einstein, “If you can’t explain it simply, you don’t understand it well enough.” Followed by Franklin D. Roosevelt who said, “When you reach the end of your rope, tie a knot in it and hang on.”
What has been the key to your success?
I’ve always tried to stay relevant and grow and evolve marketing techniques and communications strategies matched to the business. At one firm I was at I had partners that frequently wrote legal articles but, because they could not speak about their clients or matters, did not reach audiences outside the legal community. I helped them broaden their readership via blogging, social media and push marketing and a new style of writing to their repertoire. And while I have not been at that firm for some time, I still follow them and get just as excited when I see huge views of their posts and provocative topics and headlines. I also stay in touch and drop a note congratulating the writer!