2021 LMA Hall of Fame Inductees Look Back on Their Careers in Legal Marketing
By LMA International
December 03, 2021 | 7-minute read
Marketing Management and Leadership Content Type Article
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 the Legal Marketing Association. This year’s Hall of Fame inductees are Beth Cuzzone (Goulston Storrs; pictured left) and Erin Corbin Meszaros (Eversheds Sutherland; pictured right). We sat down with them to learn more about their career paths, the experiences that have made the most impact on their careers, their advice for those starting out and more.
Tell us how you got involved in legal marketing. How did your career path lead to where you are today?
Beth Cuzzone (BC): My path, like so many others, was a bit of an unplanned one. I have always been drawn to the business of law and tried to make the most of any opportunity that came my way. When there was a slightly opened door, I explored it. Eventually, I landed in a position that I could align my interests with the success of law firms.
Erin Corbin Meszaros (ECM): I have held almost every position in a law firm except being a lawyer. I studied legal administration in college and anticipated doing something related, but my path wasn’t as straightforward as I had planned.
I had my son when I was a sophomore in college; it added twists and turns to my journey, but allowed me to experience challenges that led me to where I am today. I took a job as a legal secretary, working for a real estate developer and ultimately obtained my real estate license to represent his company. But I missed the legal environment, so I went back to school for a paralegal degree.
I later moved to Atlanta and worked for a partner at Hunton & Williams as a paralegal/legal secretary. This partner challenged me to decide what my future would hold. After only one year of working for him, he pulled me aside and said I needed to go to law school or start working my way toward the management track within a firm. I’m sure he does not realize the pivotal point at which he delivered this message, but I can pinpoint it as the single moment that led me to where I am today.
I had the opportunity to leave his firm and join a large firm as a paralegal supervisor or join a small firm and become its first legal marketer. On the day I had to accept one offer and decline the other, he asked me to share the pros and cons of each job. As I listed them out, he said it was clear that my heart laid with the excitement of the new career opportunity and that I should see what legal marketing was all about. And I did.
What experience in your life, either inside or outside of the workplace, has had a significant impact on your career? What did you learn from it and how have you incorporated what you learned into what you do now?
BC: I grew up with strong women in my life, all of whom had the “go big or go home” attitude. My grandmother, mother, sister and mentor always “owned” whatever they focused on in life. That had a profound impact on me — one I wouldn’t appreciate until much later in my career. I brought that viewpoint, along with enthusiasm, to each day. It forced me to find “white space” and opportunity in my department, firm and industry.
I worked for a managing partner who always asked me the question: “What should we be thinking about that we are not?” The answer to that question drove innovation, risk, differentiators and an entrepreneurial spirit into my goals and objectives each year — not just for the firm, but for my individual plan.
ECM: While working at a couple of small firms in the beginning of my career, I raised my hand to help as often as possible. I assisted with paralegal research and secretarial and receptionist duties, tracked budgets and expenses, ran professional development for several years and supported the HR department. While it was a lot of hours and a lot of learning on the fly, I contribute these activities and assisting others to part of my success.
The perseverance it takes to be a single mom at the same time you are growing in your career is also a significant contributing factor. I have such respect and admiration for those who are single parents, as I know firsthand how hard you have to work and the time commitment you must give to your family and your career to succeed. While you may not have the opportunity to do other jobs in your firm, you can still apply the passion to learn as much as you can by supporting other administrative departments when they are in need of an extra pair of hands.
What advice would you give to those in legal marketing looking to advance their career and grow in the field?
BC: My advice is simple, but not easy. I call it the 2+2 Philosophy: 2 hours/week + 2 career champions = true north.
We spend so much time coaching, training and guiding lawyers to build relationships, network, understand the lens of the client, create a plan for success and follow up. Make time to practice what you preach.
I am an advocate of finding two hours a week to block off on your calendar and devote it to your own path of advancement. I also think it’s imperative to have mentors and sponsors — and LMA is chocked full of them. Make it a priority and find at least two people who can act as a guide, cheerleader or problem solver in you.
ECM: Never stop learning. Things are evolving rapidly in our industry and legal marketing as a career is changing daily. Even at this stage in my career I take courses on a regular basis to learn as much as I can. Don’t be afraid to invest in yourself to learn what you think will be helpful and beneficial, not only to your firm, but to your growth as a leader.
My second piece of advice is to embrace change. Change management is where law firm leaders need the most help and where you can shine no matter your level. Read about effective change management, practice it while implementing projects, understand design thinking to assist with those changes and don’t be afraid of those who resist change.
Finally, master the skill of managing up. As you grow in your career, learning to manage at all levels of your organization makes you a well-rounded individual and allows you to understand every person’s view to make better-informed decisions. I am often asked what I believe is the one skill needed to be a top leader. I always respond: “How influential are you?” Influence is a powerful tool that should not be taken lightly, nor misused, and is something you must master in order to truly have a voice at the table.
What does being inducted into the LMA Hall of Fame mean to you?
BC: Being inducted into the Hall of Fame is a sobering reminder of just how fortunate I have been. Nobody has ever become a hall of famer alone. The support of mentors and sponsors is critical.
ECM: Being inducted into the Hall of Fame is such an honor, as it is a reflection of not only your proven track record, but your colleagues’ opinion of your value. Knowing that your colleagues believe you are enhancing a profession you have dedicated a vast majority of your life to is so rewarding. I think back to those who paved the way for me to be where I am today and I am truly thankful. It is only fair that I provide that same path forward. If I am able to widen that path, just a little bit, I will have succeeded for the next generation.
Beth Cuzzone is the chief strategic growth officer for Goulston & Storrs. In her role, she spends time aligning practice, industry and working group initiatives with the firm’s strategic vision. An integral part of the firm’s leadership, Beth manages a wide range of firm growth activities, and she is part of the team responsible for overseeing firm branding, external communications, client relationship support, legal project management, business development and business analysis.
One of Beth’s essential roles involves creating strategies and processes across the revenue cycle from client acquisition to client retention and growth. Beth is well-known for her first-to-market initiatives and drives integration between all revenue-related functions, including marketing, sales, client service, lateral integration and revenue management. She helps the firm with developing business model disruption, innovation with evolving strategy alignment, next level of client relationship ecosystem strategy development, operational efficiency and excellence improvement, realizing successful external partnerships and data driven growth.
Beth has authored and contributed to many articles, white papers and books, including several American Bar Association books. As an industry leader, Beth is a founding member of the Legal Sales and Service Organization, and she is an advisory board member of the Law Practice Technology & Innovation Institute at Suffolk Law School. She is also a former chapter president of the Legal Marketing Association and co-editor of the industry magazine, Strategies.
Beth holds a green belt in Six Sigma business strategy and is a trained facilitator, a fellow in the College of Law Practice Management, a certified business development coach and accredited Smart Collaboration coach. She has been recognized and awarded throughout.
Erin Corbin Meszaros has more than 25 years of hands-on professional service experience and helps Eversheds Sutherland (US) attorneys turn business strategies into business successes. Through various firm initiatives she develops innovative solutions designed to enhance client satisfaction and increase brand awareness.
Erin works one-on-one with attorneys on their professional and business development opportunities to help integrate and align their individual initiatives with the firm’s overall business objectives. She also guides and supports practice groups and sectors to ensure the firm’s strategic goals are met.
Erin’s career includes numerous successful business initiatives, such as implementing and executing a firm’s five-year strategic plan, implementing and executing a forward thinking client feedback program, initiating and completing a re-branding campaign, conducting an in-depth client relations coaching program and creating a unique customer relationship management (CRM) database course, which effectively increased firm-wide usage.