Get to know Dawn Sheiker, the Director of Client Relations at Morris James LLP in Delaware.
I am so excited to feature Dawn in this series – I’ve known her for years through the legal marketing industry – she is wise beyond her years, a true leader, wickedly smart, a fierce advocate for the industry and an amazing mom.
What do you love most about what you do?
No day is the same. Legal work can be really rigid. Many lawyers spend (at least the early days of) their careers doing the same things day in and day out. It’s different in the marketing department. Today, we could be responding to an RFP and tomorrow developing a content marketing strategy. I enjoy working in the legal industry but in a position that requires creativity. It almost feels rebellious in a way.
What is the best career advice you’ve ever received?
Must. Should. Nice. What must I do? What should I do? What would be nice if I did it? It’s my roadmap to prioritization that I focus on both at work and at home.
How are you breaking barriers faced by women in your field?
I have a huge personality with a passion for my job. I used to hide from that in an attempt to make myself smaller and more acceptable, which hurt myself and the cause. I don’t do that any longer. I now show up every day as my authentic self. I’m prepared. I’m diligent. I ask hard questions and exchange in difficult dialogues. I no longer lessen myself for the comfortability of others.
What is the best career advice that you ever received?
Never hide mistakes. I was told this by a lawyer in the very early days of my career. Days later, I paper filed a motion with the court and forgot to send the exhibits! I was so afraid that I had ruined the entire case for the firm. Naturally, the thought crossed my mind to hide the mistake. Instead, I immediately spoke with the lawyer who called the court and opposing counsel and had the situation rectified in a matter of moments. I’ve taken this advice with me throughout my career. No mistake is too big to rectify, and being transparent can earn you credibility and loyalty from your colleagues.
What do you think is the key for success as a legal marketer today?
Adaptability. The legal industry is not immune to disruptive innovation. It’s our job to keep pulse of the evolving needs of firm clients and remain nimble and adjust to the changing demands from clients on our lawyers.
What advice would you give to women in your field?
Put your oxygen mask on first. You cannot be successful at anything else if you are running on empty.
How you balance it all?
I don’t make any attempts to maintain work-life balance. That’s a battle lost before it is won. Instead, I work tirelessly to prioritize my professional and personal workload and I practice a lot of self-care.
At work, I’m fiercely focused upon advancing the firm’s goals and bringing in new business. At home, nothing comes before my daughter’s well-being. The only way I can navigate those pressures is to find time for the things that nourish my mind, body and soul. I try to eat well, exercise, listen to music and put my toes in the sand.
What advice you wish you could give to your younger self?
“Slow down you crazy child.” (Billy Joel – Vienna).