Building a MarTech Career
By Amy Adams
June 17, 2021 | 9 minutes
Technology Management Website Management Social Media and Engagement Communications Software and Platforms Customer Relationship Management (CRM) Content Type Article Additional Options Content Level: Essential
Stories and Advice From Legal Marketing and Technology Leaders
The integration of digital technology and its role in transforming marketing, business development and sales is changing how we operate and deliver service and value to our clients. While digitization began more widely at the beginning of this century, the pace of adoption accelerated significantly during the pandemic. The evolution of technology has given rise to legal marketing technologists who are at the center of the digital transformation.
We spoke with four LMA and ILTA leaders — Nicole Goodwin, Trina Vogel, Tabitha Sinclair and Helena Lawrence — whose careers have been shaped by the marketing technology (MarTech) skills they’ve gained along their respective journeys. Read on to learn more about the emergence of this field and building a career in legal marketing technology.
How did your career path lead you into legal marketing technology?
Nicole Goodwin (NG): I started in legal marketing right out of college at a midsize firm, before legal marketing technology was a role by itself. I held a more generalized marketing role at first, and then an events role.
Being in a firm where each member of the marketing and business development team wore many hats is the reason I ended up in marketing technology (MarTech) today. I gained exposure to the different areas of marketing and business development, and I found that I naturally gravitated toward the projects that now tend to fall under the MarTech umbrella — website, CRM, email marketing, etc. When the firm gave me the opportunity to specialize in MarTech specifically, I had the ability to define that position at the firm because I’d had that experience and knew how my skills could best benefit the team.
Trina Vogel (TV): I was working with a recruiter after I finished my second degree, and she brought up an opportunity on the marketing team at a law firm - a business development position. I wasn’t sure I wanted to go into legal at the time, but I thought the interview would be great experience, at the very least. I found myself drawn to emerging technology and data, so I transitioned into a MarTech role about seven years into my legal marketing career.
Tabitha Sinclair (TS): I came into legal marketing in a non-traditional way. I began working in Jones Walker’s accounting department in 2013 where I enjoyed working with the financial database, data and reports. When the marketing and client development department advertised for a new database specialist position, I jumped at the opportunity to continue expanding my skillset in databases and define a new position for the team. As a result of preparing our firm database for the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and ensuring compliance with other data privacy regulations, I became interested in cybersecurity and am scheduled to receive my master’s in the subject in 2022.
Helena Lawrence (HL): I took the road less traveled and it led me to a career in legal marketing where I leverage marketing technology to inform business decisions and conduct marketing campaigns. I am from Silicon Valley and started my career as an events planner for a high-technology entrepreneurial support organization. I went on to receive my MBA, focusing on marketing. The curriculum at its core was about leveraging technology to inform business and marketing decisions and execute marketing campaigns. I used my business school skills at Booz Allen, a management and IT consulting firm, where I was a strategic communications/management consultant, and then finally I took the fork in the road that led me to legal marketing.
As a legal marketer, doing my job successfully means leveraging technology for a multitude of projects for lead generation, brand awareness, marketing campaigns, legal products, business research and more. Technology has been a theme throughout my life — I grew up in it, worked in it, and took a path into legal marketing. Now all paths are intertwined in legal marketing technology.
What training or experiences have helped you advance your career and get you to where you are today?
TV: The experience I’ve had in various leadership positions within LMA has been so valuable to me in my career. LMA has given me the opportunity to take on challenges that have stretched me and helped me grow professionally and personally. Having that leadership experience and knowing the LMA resources available made the transition from business development to MarTech much less daunting. I’m also grateful for the connections I’ve made — seeking out advice from someone who has experience with a specific platform you’re considering or may be tackling the same technology issue is invaluable.
Helena Lawrence (HL): With my legal marketing technology hat on, I have taken several certification classes via university professional education programs, as well as a few Coursera classes and certifications offered by marketing technology platforms, to expand my current knowledge and take a deeper dive into areas of interest.
For example, I have a PMP certification through the Project Management Institute (PMI). I bring the PMP approach to managing all my work, including marketing technology projects. I am Qualtrics certified and use the platform for client feedback surveying, as well as the analytics for reporting.
I follow the thought leadership of people and organizations outside the legal marketing industry to bring ideas, approaches and tools back to my work. For example, I read the Chief Marketing Technologies by Scott Brinker, the National Institute for Social Media (NISM) and Innovation Leader.
TS: I have been lucky to have mentors at my firm in our accounting department and marketing and client development department. They gave me knowledge but have also guided me on my journey to be more confident in my role. My leadership encourages out-of-the-box thinking that has enabled me to see all of the different pieces in MarTech and align my training initiatives around them. Vendor and association webinars and lunch and learns have opened a network to connect with like-minded individuals who also provide input and examples of things that do (and don’t) work for them.
What is the most challenging part of being a legal marketing technologist and how do you approach overcoming your challenge?
NG: I think there can be a struggle to clearly define the role of the marketing technologist, as it relates to your team and the firm. Because of this, it’s important to be clear, in order to set expectations for others. The role requires stronger communication skills than you may expect, both because you often serve as the bridge between IT and marketing — two different departments with different priorities and processes — and also because the burden is typically on you to take complex processes or issues and distill them for an audience that needs to know why it matters to them and their work.
TV: Attorney adoption and buy-in of new — and even existing — technologies is important to manage. I think one of the most effective (and challenging) approaches is to work with our attorneys one-on-one to turn them into believers.
TS: Resistance to change has been the most challenging part of working in the legal technology space. It is difficult to promote the great things technology can do for an individual attorney or a practice group and then to be met with hesitations and frustrations. I work with attorneys and my colleagues to overcome their technology fears by illustrating what’s in it for them and highlighting all the features that can make any job easier. However, I also find that talking things out with those willing to communicate their technology frustrations is a good start in completing objectives.
What trends do you see in legal marketing technology and why do you see it as a trend?
HL: I believe virtual event platforms are here to stay. During the pandemic we proved they work, and I believe going forward we will have hybrid events that have virtual and in-person options.
For example, I think there will be different event offering packages, such as an option for content only (virtual) and an option for networking and content (in person, including on demand recording of the event). Conferences may also expand their offerings by providing virtual elements in advance of the event, or as a follow-up to enhance participant value and engagement.
Past activities that were in-person may get a third element that has a virtual component. For example, my friend became president of her law school alumni association and said they historically had two in-person board meetings. She plans to bring a third board meeting this year that is virtual.
TS: I see the Internet of Behaviors and automation as two of the biggest trends. We are finally leveraging analytics to determine what efforts are working and what we can do to improve. A lot of this stems from being able to see the full picture of our contacts: what alerts are they opening, what pages are they viewing, what events or seminars are they attending, etc. After almost 20 plus years, we are finally using automation to get the intelligence we need for our business development efforts. This is especially important as adoption has always been a hurdle we have not been able to scale.
What is your favorite marketing technology tool and why?
HL: I am having fun playing with the virtual collaboration platform Miro. You do not have to be in the same room to use a whiteboard to strategize. Now you can do it virtually in tandem or at different times in the same space. It is also a great way to run virtual trainings, create mockups, draw pictures, and create layouts and project plans.
TS: Right now it is Power BI. Through this platform we can pull intelligence from multiple databases and create one narrative that tells the story of our matters and clients, in visual format, to be shared to our attorneys. The output is concise and easily consumable.
What advice would you give to those looking to advance their career in legal marketing?
NG: With my marketing technology hat on, I’d say be endlessly curious, which can also apply to other areas of marketing and client development. Technology evolves quickly, so don’t discount a new tool, process or trend just because you don’t see an immediate use case.
Be curious about the systems and processes you already have, and be curious about what exists outside of your current orbit — both at your firm and in the larger legal world. Be willing to do the work to make yourself the subject matter expert on your area, and then continuously seek out thought leadership and training to ensure you stay the subject matter expert. Don’t wait for someone to tell you what you need to learn — find it yourself!
TV: Take advantage of all that LMA has to offer. Join the SIGs. Find a mentor. Read Strategies & Voices. Make connections with those in similar roles at other firms and offer to help others. Lastly, know that it’s ok to make mistakes and learn from them.