Stephanie Simpson, marketing events coordinator at Williams Mullen in Richmond, Virginia, and LMA member for two-and-a-half years, was the recipient of this year’s Presidents' Gift, providing her the opportunity to attend the 2015 LMA Annual Conference, which was held in San Diego, California. Here, she gives us the low-down on her tips for future Presidents' Gift applicants as well as her advice for LMA newbies.
Describe your experience at the 2015 LMA Annual Conference.
At first, I was so overwhelmed with the sheer number of people who attended! But I soon realized that we were all in this same specific industry with similar challenges, which made it easy to meet new people. It was amazing how quickly I adapted to speaking to random people at every opportunity — each meal, each break, each session, around the hotel in general.
I also appreciated that there was such a wide selection of sessions to choose from, so I could attend some sessions that would help me with my position or learn about something I may not currently be involved with but was interested in. I found the QuickStart session really helpful; it was a good overview of basic legal marketing concepts and career advice such as finding a mentor and building your network.
What was your biggest takeaway from the entire conference experience?
My biggest takeaway is that the only limit to what you can do in legal marketing is your imagination! Because it’s an evolving industry, specializations are still developing, especially as technology changes. There are opportunities of all shapes and sizes, in every geographic region, for people of all personality types and interests. I’m so excited to be a part of something that is growing and changing with room for my career to grow as well.
Any tips you can share on the Presidents' Gift application process?
My recommendation is to be honest! Start drafting answers to the questions, and for me, the rest came together quickly. The questions really targeted how I felt about the LMA- I knew I was new to the industry, and I wanted the opportunity to learn as much as I could, and the annual conference was a great way to do that. I was lucky that my team was incredibly supportive, and as a result, was instrumental in getting my video done, so I would recommend speaking to colleagues and supervisors about getting involved, and use their creative input and skills!
What advice do you have for new LMA members or future grant recipients?
Just get out there! For new LMA members, go to a meeting, start talking to people, get on a committee. Within my chapter, the same group of people consistently attends meetings, so it’s easy to recognize them and start talking to them. I’ve found it helpful to ask others how they got into the legal marketing industry because there isn’t just one path, and everyone has an interesting story about how they got where they are today.
For future grant recipients, I would recommend they go to each and every event at the annual conference that they’re able to. It’s an overwhelming couple of days, but you never know who you’ll meet or which session will be the most helpful.
What are you looking forward to most as an LMA member?
I recently became the chair of my chapter’s technology and communications committee, so I’m excited about the opportunity to work with other people in my chapter who I may not know well, to be more involved in the chapter and its communications, and to work in an area of legal marketing that I don’t handle as part of my current position.
As part of the Presidents' Gift grant program, LMA selects one legal marketing and business development industry professional to receive complimentary annual conference registration as well as admittance to a pre-conference program of their choosing. Submissions for next year’s award, which grants 2016 LMA Annual Conference attendance, are due Nov. 30.