By LMA Staff
The LMA Hall of Fame honors individuals who have demonstrated a history of career achievement, sustained commitment to the advancement of legal marketing and significant contributions to LMA. Read on to learn more about the 2020 Hall of Fame award recipients in an exclusive with this year’s inductees.
What does being inducted into LMA’s Hall of Fame mean to you?
Nathalie Daum (ND): I am deeply honored to receive the LMA Hall of Fame award. My time in LMA and the legal marketing industry have been some of the most rewarding in my life. I am grateful for what LMA — and the people I have met, served with and had the pleasure to mentor — has given back to me.
Despina Kartson (DK): First, I am quite honored to be inducted into the LMA Hall of Fame. It’s very humbling to be in the company of fellow Hall of Famers whom I have respected and admired for many years.
Second, being inducted into the Hall of Fame represents the culmination of my work over the years in the legal marketing profession and a wonderful acknowledgment of the many great colleagues I have worked with. It also marks the accomplishments we have made at some of the best law firms in the world.
Third, it means that my participation in the LMA will continue. As a Hall of Famer, I have a responsibility to continue to support, lead and collaborate with others in our profession.
Adam Severson (AS): LMA has been such an integral part of my career in helping me learn, grow and form life-long friendships. To be recognized for giving back to the organization means the world to me and I couldn’t have done it without so many wonderful colleagues and team members along the way.
How did your career path lead you into legal marketing?
ND: I started my career in product marketing and just couldn’t get excited about why my metal box was better than the competitors. I moved quickly into healthcare marketing and worked in a division that marketed to medical centers, then insurance companies and finally to Wall Street in an effort to explain our model’s benefits. Once the division was bought by another company, I began my own consulting company.
While successful on my own, I truly enjoy working in a team, so I began a search for new opportunities. When I was hired by a law firm, they noted that if I could work with doctors, I could probably work with lawyers. Since then I have never looked back and am truly passionate about what I do.
DK: I have worked as a legal secretary, paralegal, litigation support manager and business developer for service providers. My career path led me to legal marketing because it was the natural extension of a variety of professional roles I’ve held.
AS: I came into the legal business out of college when I was hired by West Group (now Thomson Reuters). Over the years in various roles, I found myself selling marketing and business development tools to law firms. This gave me tremendous insight into what law firms were dealing with and working toward, while also having the ear of in-house counsel and what they wanted from firms. While working with some of the largest law firms in the world as clients, I then took a role in-house, as business development and sales were relatively uncharted territory. Fifteen years later and now at my third firm, I continue to find the legal business intellectually interesting and challenging. I enjoy being around high achievers and helping them succeed.
What experiences have helped you advance your career and get you to where you are today?
ND: I joined the mighty LMA Chicago Local Group shortly after I got my first legal marketing job. From the moment I met the welcoming and generous members of that group, I knew it was going to have a positive impact on my career. Throughout my career, I’ve enjoyed many unique and wonderful opportunities, which are directly related to the network of people and the education I’ve received from LMA.
DK: All of my professional experiences culminate into my role as chief marketing officer. Having worked in the media, in business development and strategy roles, in technology and in legal practice support positions, I have drawn on aspects of every experience to further my career. Working for law firms as well as other industries that serviced laws firms has given me a broad perspective.
AS: Wow, so many really. A couple learnings that stick out to me include:
- Get the voice of the client. Early in my first business development role at a law firm, I performed client feedback interviews. These were a great way to learn more about the clients we served, understand the demands of the in-house legal team, learn more about how we’re meeting — or sometimes not meeting — their expectations and identifying opportunities for growth. These early meetings formed a foundation to ensure the voice of the client is present in everything we do. Now, hundreds of client meetings later, my ability to embrace this skill set and hone in has led to a lot of opportunities for my firm.
- Luck is the intersection of preparation and opportunity. Over my career, I’ve had key moments that led to my growth. These have included being laid off during the recession of 2009, working through a large law firm merger and moving across the country for a new role. Each of these came with challenges, but also opportunities to grow. By continuing to work on strong fundamentals of leadership and walking the walk, each challenge has led to greener pastures.
- Give before you get. It’s important to give of yourself and your experience without knowing if that will be reciprocated. I say to my team and my family that “sharing is caring.” This holds true when working with lawyers in client development. They should proactively offer value adds to their clients or provide meaningful introductions to colleagues for new work opportunities. I also have taken this to heart in my volunteerism for the LMA. This giving will undoubtedly be returned in spades.
What advice would you give to those looking to advance their career?
ND: I strongly believe that you get what you give, and recommend becoming involved in the leadership of this great organization. You will benefit for years from the relationships and experiences. And more broadly — aim high, always deliver and become an excellent communicator.
DK: I think it’s important to show initiative and be proactive, including suggesting ideas that you are willing to lead. Demonstrate your creativity and the value that you bring to your firm. Be a strong team player — that means sometimes being a leader and sometimes being a great collaborator.
AS: As mentioned in my Hall of Fame acceptance speech, my advice is to:
- Find the good. Our roles are stressful and filled with a variety of personalities. That’s what makes it exciting, not miserable! And assume good intent when working with others.
- Work hard; play hard. Nothing has ever been achieved by phoning it in. Hold yourself to high standards and others will follow suit. But you can’t do that without an opportunity to enjoy one another and laugh.
- Find balance. This is up to you; know what gives you joy and then make time for it. For me, it’s time with family and friends, travel, wine and cooking, exercise and my dog Napa — she brings me so much joy!
- Close the SAY-DO gap. Do what you say you’re going to do. Period. Every time.
- Team work makes the dream work. We’re all on the same team. Let’s work together.
Nathalie Daum is the director of business development and marketing at Dickinson Wright PLLC. Dickinson Wright has over 475 attorneys in 18 offices across the United States and Canada. She is responsible for the strategic business development and marketing for all offices, and for the firm’s Industries Division. Nathalie is also charged with developing and implementing focused client relations initiatives.
Daum is a seasoned legal marketer who helps cultivate and grow new and existing business relationships through an integrated approach of client-focused strategic marketing and business development initiatives.
Daum brings 20 years of legal marketing experience and has led the strategic business development and marketing at several previous law firms, including Lewis and Roca (Phoenix), Quarles & Brady (Phoenix) and Gordon Silver (Las Vegas). She has experience with developing and implementing business development, client relations, social media and thought leadership initiatives, as well as leading several lawyer training programs. Daum earned her bachelor’s degree from the University of Illinois, Chicago campus. She served as president of LMA in 2004 and as president of the LMA Southwest Region for three years. Daum is a frequent speaker at industry events, including LMA events, bar associations and Association of Legal Administrator chapter events.
Despina Kartson has extensive experience spearheading global business development and marketing and communications initiatives, including strategic planning, practice and client development, public relations, design services, and internal, external and digital communications. She leads BakerHostetler’s firm-wide business development and marketing department, and works closely with firm leadership to develop and implement targeted business development and marketing strategies.
For nearly two decades, Kartson has served as the head of marketing for numerous large, international law firms, including Jones Day, Morgan Lewis, and Latham & Watkins. She played an instrumental role in setting the strategic direction and overseeing the operational implementation of the firms’ client development, marketing and communications programs. Additionally, she led firm rebranding and website projects and worked closely with firm leadership on the combination of two firms.
Adam Severson is the chief marketing and business development officer at Baker Donelson in Nashville, Tennessee. He is responsible for the strategic direction and execution of the firm's business development and marketing initiatives, and collaborates with the firm's lawyers and professional staff to maintain a client focus, increase marketplace awareness and facilitate cross-office and cross-practice collaboration. Severson is very active in LMA and is a former president of the association. He also served three years on the LMA Board of Directors. Adam has received several industry awards, including recognition as the No. 1 Business Development & Marketing team by Marketing the Law Firm and as CMO of the Year by the Nashville Business Journal. He speaks internationally on law firm strategy, marketing and business development, technology and competitive intelligence. Severson is a Fellow in the College of Law Practice Management, an honorary organization that recognizes distinguished law practice management professionals. Prior to joining Baker Donelson, he held similar roles at two Am Law 100 firms.