Anne Gallagher is out of fashion.
The marketing communications manager for Chicago law firm Jenner & Block admitted as much when she shared an anecdote during the inaugural edition of the Legal Marketing Association’s Strategies Live! webinar, a new offering that features authors of articles in LMA’s Strategies publication discussing the content of the recent issue.
“I was reminded of the importance of relevance yesterday, when a 24-year-old in my department had an adorable dress on,” Gallagher said. “I said to her, ‘That’s such an adorable dress—I would put a belt on it.’ She said ‘A belt? Those went out in, like, the ’90s.’ I realized first-hand that I was not relevant.”
Fashion trends aside, the topic of relevance is itself relevant to Gallagher’s article in the March/April issue of Strategies, in which she explores how legal marketers can build and manage their personal brands. Her advice is to always be learning, particularly from colleagues and other peers.
“You have to ask for feedback about how people perceive you and about your work product from a wide and diverse group of people,” Gallagher said.
That sentiment was echoed by Gina Rubel, president of Philadelphia-based PR and marketing agency Furia Rubel Communications and another contributor to the recent issue of Strategies who participated in the webinar. Rubel said her involvement with LMA is a critical component of her personal brand development.
“It wasn’t until I joined LMA that I felt a part of this greater global community, and a lot of my personal branding comes as a result of the people I’ve had the opportunity to network with,” she said.
Gallagher and Rubel both addressed the challenges they have confronted in their careers as legal marketers, noting that some important lessons can be learned only by making mistakes.
“There are born leaders, but there are also a lot of leadership skills we have to learn,” Rubel said. “As the CEO of my company, I’ve had to learn all sorts of leadership skills by trial and error.”
Gallagher agreed. “Mostly it’s error,” she said. “If you’re going to be successful in this field, you’re going to stumble and fail—be prepared for that, and ask yourself what you can learn from whatever debacle you got yourself into.”
The webinar was moderated by LMA member John Byrne, head of Chicago-based content and marketing firm Glencoe Media Group and co-executive editor of Strategies. He said personal brand and career development in the legal marketing profession is all about continuing education, which takes multiple forms.
“Always be curious, and always be learning,” Byrne said. “There is so much to learn, not just in marketing, but in the legal profession too. Marketing is a craft—it’s not like engineering. Sometimes there’s more than one solution to a problem. It’s not something that can be mapped out with an equation on a whiteboard.”
The participants in the webinar—a recording of which is available here—also shared their views on the evolution of culture and diversity in law firms, and how legal marketers can navigate those changes.
And as for Gallagher’s revelation about her own fashion sense?
“If anyone wants to know what really happened to my belts, you’re going to have to email me,” she joked. “It’s a difficult topic, and I just don’t like to talk about it.”