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Industry Insights Blog

Building, Maintaining and Inheriting Marketing Teams: Takeaways from LMA Midwest Program

Kate Harry Shipham

On August 17, I moderated a panel for the LMA Midwest Chapter. The panelists and I discussed effective legal marketing teams and their key success factors when building, maintaining and also inheriting teams. The panel also shared their insights on how great leaders coach their teams, inspire their people, and hire and retain great talent in a market where choice is always available.  

My esteemed panelists, with a combined 45 years of experience, were:

Below are the key takeaways from this program:

  • The most effective legal marketing teams are a combination of great talent, collaborative teamwork, and a system that allows everyone to effectively do their job. Not getting hung up on titles, but focusing more on the work you are doing and services you are providing to the attorneys can help to advance your career exponentially
  • Managing people is hard.  A good manager will adapt their style to each person they manage based on what that person needs to progress and how that person utilizes their manager. Proactively managing people is a fine balance of delegation, supervision and also having a sensitivity chip that keeps you in tune with your team
  • Constant evaluation of your teams’ strengths and weaknesses (both as people and as circumstances change) is essential to adapt to staff who are growing and learning, and also the team as whole in the market at that time.  Hiring people that compliment your style, but also who bring different perspectives and experience to the table makes for a diverse team
  • In hiring great talent into your team, you want to first and foremost be able to relate to the person. A close second to this is to have people who are smart and intellectually curious. These roles are relationship-driven so syncing with each other, and then understanding their appetite for the subject matter, is a great way to culturally test a potential candidate. Many experienced managers admit these factors will be more influential to them than a candidate who, on paper, has the requisite experience because cultural fit and softer skills can just never be overstated
  • Maintaining a happy and successful team is what every manager aspires to.  Assigning roles, targeting goals, and honest and frequent feedback are key factors our panelists emphasized. Additionally, recognizing the need to have fun with your work and enjoy what you’re doing gives that team an edge. In law firms especially, it’s easy to take things overly seriously, and seeing the lighter side and remembering to have fun with your work is great advice
  • One-on-one coaching and instructing is something that great managers always make time for. The coaching relationship builds the more you work together, and managers who dedicate frequent (for e.g., bi-weekly) one-on-one coaching sessions talk about their staff’s individual success and growth as a result
  • The difference between management and leadership: managers typically keep things moving; they tell, instruct, keep the status quo, and take a risk-adverse approach.  Leaders, on the other hand, sell a vision, challenge and test the status quo, and take more risks.  They try to move the long-term strategic direction forward by trying new things and exploring new growth and revenue avenues.

It was a privilege to moderate this program and, as always, we thank our qualified panel who contributed thoughtful and insightful messages to a very engaged audience.  If you would like to continue this conversation, or have any follow up questions, please reach out to me at kate@jjohnsonexecsearch.com.

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