This article is a great resource for those you know who may be interested in a career in legal marketing.
Do most people start their career thinking: “I’m going to work in legal marketing.”? Probably not! People come into legal marketing from diverse backgrounds; it's part of why our departments are so well-equipped to handle anything that comes our way.
I received my degree from Ithaca College in drama and dance before moving to New York City. After a decade of working in theatre and film, I accidentally got a job in legal marketing after a colleague I met working on a feature film a year earlier was looking for an assistant. Three years later, I am the New York coordinator for Alston & Bird, and my career in legal marketing has completely changed my life. I was able to use my previous experience to great advantage in working with attorneys and to execute all the responsibilities I had early in my legal marketing career.
We all bring different skillsets to the table, and these previous experiences create fantastic opportunities when starting off and can possibly define your entire legal marketing career. Your strengths from your previous experience can transition seamlessly onto new projects and jobs and will help propel you early on. Whether you worked in catering, ran a business, were a high school teacher or are just coming out of college, you still possess skills that can translate to a success career in legal marketing.
Hard skills stay the same regardless of industry, circumstance or people you work with. They can be learned from classes, books or training programs. Use your hard skills in your new career in legal marketing because they don’t change — only the job has changed.
- Are you great at Microsoft Excel and can teach everyone secret tricks about Word or PowerPoint? You will use these skills daily in working with data and in formatting complicated RFPs and presentations.
- Are you able to program or write code and understand technology and the Internet in a way most do not? Your social media savvy and ability to make website updates in the blink of an eye will be great assets to your marketing or PR team.
- Are you an attorney or certified CPA? Do you have your degree in business or communications? You will be uniquely suited to work with large groups of people and data, and be able to understand and formulate strategy and long-term goals.
Soft skills change depending on the job or the type of industry you work in. Soft skills are flexible and often reflect the culture of an organization. These tend to be some of the best ways to use your previous personal skills to excel in legal marketing.
- Are you a fantastic and gifted writer? You will have no trouble writing interesting descriptions about practice groups, pro bono activities, and drafting clear and concise emails to partners.
- Do you love research and enjoy mining for useful data? You will be an asset to the entire team as you work on competitive intelligence reports and pull data to analyze metrics.
- Are your project management skills excellent, and are you able to get things done on time, regardless of unforeseen circumstances? That's great because that’s one of the tenets of what we do in legal marketing. This skill will serve you well in everything you do in this field.
After you have a better understanding of your role in your organization, you will be able to leverage your previous skill set to find your niche or specialty in legal marketing. For example, I came from a TV/film background, so I oversee all photo and video shoots in our office. I enjoy working with attorneys so they are comfortable and conversational in front of the camera. This was something that came easy to me, so it made sense. You have special skills as well; it's simply a matter of tapping into what they are. Perhaps you have a teaching background and would excel in attorney business development training and coaching. Perhaps you’re a natural leader and would like to spearhead a project or initiative that speaks to you and works within your department’s overall goals. Use whatever your experience dictates and find what you can use to thrive in your role within your department. One of the fantastic things about this career is that it is so varied and always changing — we all have so many opportunities to do new things.
As you learn about your organization’s goals and the direction of your department, you will be able to take on more responsibilities. You’re probably already doing this in one regard or another. I have found that this is a great opportunity to work with a mentor or find someone in a senior position who supports your growth and let them know what you are interested in working on. While they may not be able to do anything for you immediately, you have begun to lay the groundwork for your growth within the organization. If you can brainstorm with your team on how to use your skillset to their advantage, even better! Be proactive and make it happen for yourself. The worst that can happen is that the status quo remains the same — for now.
As you grow in legal marketing, you will find many things you love about this work and other things you’d rather move away from. What you bring to the table makes you a great asset to your organization — no one has your unique skill set. As you listen and learn from those around you, you will find opportunities to stand out in your own way. I hope you are empowered to be bold and use every skill and personal asset at your disposal.
Logan Tracey is the business development coordinator at Alston & Bird in New York City. She has been with the firm for almost four years, supporting the real estate group firm-wide. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.