Yolanda Cartusciello is a partner with the consulting firm PP&C Consulting where she coaches and trains individual lawyers and works with practices and industry groups to develop deeper client relationships. Previously, she served in senior marketing and practice management leadership roles in major law firms, including Debevoise & Plimpton and Cleary Gottlieb. As part of our Positioning Yourself for Success series, we asked Yolanda for her advice on how to build a strong professional brand, the best career advice she’s ever received and how she got her big break in legal marketing.
Any advice on how to build a strong professional brand?
I think the most important part of a legal marketing “brand” is the ability to demonstrate an understanding of what lawyers actually do for a living. This is critical and it is beyond simply understanding the term “joint venture” or “arbitration.” So read the Wall Street Journal or the Financial Times every day. Read the legal trades every day. Once you’re able to effectively speak to the issues clients are facing and the ways in which lawyers are addressing those issues, you can then layer on your ability to help lawyers and firms market and develop business more effectively than the competition. Believe me, if you do all of that, your brand will exponentially grow.
What is the best career advice that you ever received?
I worked for a partner who once told me that my job was to sit and think for a meaningful period of time every day. If that meant closing my door and pretending I wasn’t in there, or hiding in the library of going outside and walking, then that’s what he expected of me. Getting through the to-do list was important, but not as important as simply stopping everything else and spending some time brainstorming, decompressing or just being mindful. It’s always been very helpful advice.
What do you love most about what you do?
I love interacting with bright minds. It sparks my creativity and intellect in interesting ways. I love that every assignment brings a different challenge and demands different solutions.
How did you get started in legal marketing?
Like many people in legal marketing, I didn’t grow up thinking that I would become a legal marketer. I started working in the accounting department of a law firm during summer breaks while I was in college. That led to an offer to be a case manager (paralegal), which led to other paralegal management positions. Eventually I found myself at a firm that challenged me to try something different in the communications department (that’s what they called marketing and business development when I began). I was thrilled. It was incredibly hard work, and I felt like we were creating it all as we evolved as a firm. I really enjoyed it and I’ve never looked back.
What woman most inspires you and why?
My mother, without question, was the woman who most shaped and inspired me. My mother was one of those people that you could hand a bag of random disparate items and she’d be able to turn them into something, usually something really cool. In my mother’s hands, bits of twine and three paper clips became the object that I needed to complete the diorama, food ingredients became gourmet meals, and seven children became loving responsible adults. And all this she did with little more than her imagination. But most importantly, everyone loved her – not because she demanded it, but simply because people couldn’t help it. She’s been gone for several years, but she still inspires me every day.