In this installment of Women Who Wow, learn more about Diana Lauritson, a legal marketer and volunteer leader in the Legal Marketing Association.
Diana has had a versatile career and spent several years working in government and public affairs before entering the legal industry.
In addition to legal, her background in business development, marketing, communications, and community relations encompasses a variety of industries and areas, including higher education, management consulting, trade associations, and nonprofits. She is passionate about diversity, equity, inclusion, civic engagement and alternative dispute resolution.
Why did you choose your profession?
I don’t think any of us choose legal marketing and business development. In some ways, I think this profession chose us.
I know this has been expressed many times in our industry, but most of us don’t know this industry exists, especially out of college. We usually just apply for a job and get it, and then we are entrenched in this whole new world that we learn to realize is a very lucrative industry.
For me, I felt like legal marketing combined many of my skill sets in business, law, business development and marketing. I found fulfillment in that, and it has kept me here for the past decade.
Any advice to young women about succeeding in the workplace?
I have a few things to share with women who want to succeed in the workplace. Growing up, I was always a female who raised her hand when she had an answer.
At times, I felt like I got the reaction of, “oh, her again,” but I didn’t let it dissuade me from continuously raising my hand. I had no problem sitting at the front of the class. I knew I stood out as a woman of color, and I knew that it made me a target for naysayers: those who thought I should shut up, or those who thought I was a know-it all. I didn’t for one moment not raise my hand, and for good or for bad, I learned that raising my hand meant that I WOULD be heard. Whether people liked me or not for it, you were going to hear my perspective.
Given my background growing up in poverty, being a multiracial woman, or even being abused throughout my life in various ways, I still raised my hand. What I want to say to women who want to exceed in the workplace is:
- You matter – I don’t care what people say. You are important and you have a voice, no matter where you came from or where you find yourself now.
- If you believe you deserve a raise – ask for it. Women don’t do this as often as they should, and as a hiring manager, I’ve learned that there is a lot more leeway than you think. You are worth it, and you should ask. Don’t be afraid to counter. We need to close the wage gap, and we deserve it.
- Don’t be afraid of being called names. There is one name in particular that I think a lot of women get called, but I won’t say it. You all know. Being a strong and capable woman who excels in her job is all the reason you need to speak your mind. Who cares what people call you? Difficult? Let your work speak for itself.
How are you breaking barriers faced by women in your field?
As a woman of color, I am making a statement just by being in this industry. When I first became a legal marketer, I looked around and no one looked like me. I want to change that.
I became a member of the Legal Marketing Association (LMA) and held various leadership positions before eventually becoming a member of the international board this year. I want people of color in LMA to see themselves in me. I want them to know that they have a home, that there is a place for us in this industry, and I want them to be aware that this industry exists. You are welcome here, and you can contribute so much. I’m willing to serve as a resource and a mentor to anyone who needs one. There is a need for diverse perspectives in this industry. Our clients want it, and it should be a given regardless.
What do you think is the key for success in a role like yours?
You have to have thick skin. This profession is not for the faint of heart. Dealing with lawyers of various personalities every day can wear on you. Especially when regardless of who you report to, the lawyers seem to hold the sacred place at the top of the totem pole.
The politics of a law firm is something many newbies don’t expect or understand. Just be strong, remember that being a lawyer does not give anyone the entitlement to put you down or make you feel less than. You are a revenue generator as well, as good friends in LMA have been evangelizing, and you deserve respect.
I think the pandemic has taught us a lot of things. Namely, it has humanized us. We’ve seen people who we work with in their most intimate environments. Through virtual calls we’ve had insight into how they decorate, how their homes looks; we’ve seen their children and their pets; we’ve seen people without makeup or in leisure wear. It has given us some enlightenment into how our colleagues are as people, and not just how they are in the office. The pandemic has also shown us how virtual our world really is.Many law firms have realized that people can be just as much, if not more, productive in a remote setting as they were in person. I think this scares a lot of law firms, as they have been holding on to the idea that we are better off working in the office and communicating face to face.I don’t disagree that there are benefits to interacting with colleagues on a day-to-day basis, but I also understand why so many law firm staff are relocating to firms that have a remote or hybrid work environment. Where is the benefit in hiding in your office all day with a mask due to the pandemic, as it negates the reason for being in person in the first place? I do believe that meeting with people in person helps to build relationships, but for many legal marketers, their lawyers are located all over the country, so location means less to how we conduct business, much in the way that lawyers have clients all over the country and internationally.I would also say that the pandemic has been teaching me to be more compassionate. We are living in a time where no one alive has ever experienced a global pandemic, and so there is this feeling that we are all in this together. I know it sounds so cliche, but I have to remind myself that this situation brings out emotions in everyone that affects their workplace demeanors. This is a scary time, and we are all affected by it and react to it differently.I think the biggest lesson I am learning is to be more compassionate. Our mental health affects our work and our ability to collaborate with others. I have to constantly remind myself of this because as much as I want to understand where folks are coming from and how it affects the work they do, I want them to exhibit the same compassion towards me.