An Interview With Julie Drellishak Marketing for Modern Lawyers

Julie Drellishak

Several years ago Reminger Co., LPA was using an advertising agency for marketing-related initiatives. When they decided that they wanted more of an in-house marketing person, Julie Drellishak of Studio Marcom offered up her services. With a broad background in journalism and marketing, Drellishak has worked on the agency side and the client side. She specializes in immersing herself in a business and providing marketing services with a hands-on approach.

With her insight into marketing for large law firms, Drellishak was kind enough to sit down with us to discuss the challenges specific to this niche area.

AALM: What challenges does a marketing director face in a large firm?
Drellishak: Our firm is a seasoned civil litigation firm with a wide client base. Furthermore, we handle transactional work that continues to increase, especially with our thriving estate planning and probate practice. Being smack dab in the middle of the Utica Shale region has also generated a lot of business for us in shale and fracking related matters. All in all, we have 30 practice groups in 12 offices throughout the Midwest. The biggest challenge for me and for any marketing director in a firm of this size and magnitude is to market the firm’s myriad strengths and do so effectively. With a firm that has such a wide array of skill sets this does become difficult, even for the most practiced of marketing professionals.

AALM: How does a marketing person of such a firm make the time to balance the needs of so many lawyers and offices?
Drellishak: Personally, it would be far more difficult if it weren’t for the stewardship and guidance of my two co-chairs, Michelle Sheehan and Richard Rymond. As experienced attorneys who have been with the firm for an exceptional amount of time, they understand the culture and are able to keep me focused on the most critical tasks. To a certain extent, they are gatekeepers. But, they are more so marketing-minded individuals who provide invaluable direction in the execution of our marketing efforts.

This is essential for any good marketing director to be effective in their role. They need to be keyed in with the leadership and the culture of the firm to know where to lead the marketing eye. Regular status meetings – like I have with my co-chairs – provide marketing personnel the opportunity they need to provide updates on current marketing efforts, to prioritize incoming requests from attorneys and to discuss new marketing opportunities.

Through these lines of communication and an open door policy, I gather feedback that is leveraged in making adjustments and/or additions to our plans.

AALM: What recent marketing efforts have been most effective for your firm?
Dresllishak: I have come to believe that a solid, consistent brand message is of the utmost importance; it needs to extend throughout all materials. Our firm underwent a branding effort several years ago. Our tagline is “Results. Period.” That means that we relentlessly pursue the delivery of the best results for our clients in the most efficient manner possible. We are not a silk stocking law firm. We are more like a steel toe work boot firm, if there is such a thing. We are very proud of our 50-year legacy as not only a civil litigation firm, but also as a sophisticated provider of legal services encompassing real estate, corporate, business, tax, estate planning, probate disputes and more.

We recently underwent a web redesign. In that process, we wanted to ensure that our online presence better communicated who we are not just as a whole, but also individually. There are a lot of choices out there when clients are looking for legal counsel … we wanted to make a personal connection with our website. Each attorney provided a personal statement summarizing their own approach to client service. We spotlighted our attorneys throughout our site to provide the user with incremental insight about our attorneys’ unique strengths and talents.

Our print advertising also incorporates a message of “straight talk” directly from our people. Our headlines include quotes from featured attorneys that underscore our value commitment. I want prospects to feel like they really know who they’re hiring. These are brilliant, driven people who are passionate about what they do. You have to get that message across. People remember our ads … some have even cut them out and sent them back to our attorneys!

We also believe in keeping our clients educated on updates in the law through the distribution of Reminger Reports, newsletters and other materials that provide insight and value. I know that these approaches work because I get responses back via email thanking us for the information.

AALM: What tools do you use to get your job done on a daily/weekly/monthly basis?
Drellishak: Lots of elbow grease. The tools are secondary. As an Apple aficionado, I love my Mac laptop and my iPhone, so I couldn’t do without those. I use the full Adobe suite of programs (InDesign, Illustrator, Photoshop, etc.) for my advertising and collateral. I use proprietary email marketing programs for ease of design, CAN-SPAM compliance and analytics. Google offers many tools to help execute and analyze online performance. If I gave you any more detail, I’d have to start charging you … ha.

AALM: Any other advice for our readers?
Drellishak: Because marketing can be considered very subjective, you need to not only be analytical and thoughtful about your approach, but also confident in your execution.