Q&A: Meet Linda LaBrie, Class of 2015
Linda LaBrie, Owner and President of LaBrie Consulting, was one of the first in-house legal marketers in the U.S. to conduct client feedback interviews and to use that feedback to help law firms tailor their services to fit their clients’ needs and expectations. Her work has contributed significantly to the advancement of client relationship and service management in the legal profession.
In 1991, when marketing and branding were still foreign concepts in much of the legal community, Linda successfully helped two Boston-area law firms establish comprehensive marketing and business development programs. Through a combination of lawyer education and sheer determination, she was able to establish many of the best practices in marketing and branding that still are in use today.
At every step of her career, Linda has contributed to the advancement of law practice management through comprehensive lecturing, involvement in LMA, and mentoring of young marketing professionals.
Where were you born and raised?
Born in Pawtucket, RI; raised in Central Falls and Cumberland, RI
What’s your favorite thing to do away from work?
Too much to choose from! I’m a foodie so definitely cooking and eating (with my no. 1 taster, David); daily exercise (spin, yoga or golf); beaching it with the family and friends; a good murder mystery; and, of course, being “MIMI” to Zoe and Lili. Enjoying an occasional extra-dry Grey Goose martini, stirred not shaken, with three olives makes for a perfect ending!
What achievement outside of work makes you most proud?
In June, I’m celebrating 45 years of marriage to David, my love and best friend, who helped me create two amazing daughters and craft a great life!
Did you choose your career or did it choose you?
I’ve actually had four different careers: (1) higher education — teaching and administration; (2) banking — T&D/marketing/operations; (3) legal marketing — in-house for three firms; and (4) client feedback consultant and business development coach for professional services firms. I definitely chose my first and last careers; my banking and legal careers found me.
Who was your mentor and what made him or her so influential?
My mentor was an amazing woman named Frankie Wellins. She was the Director of the college’s Career Development Office where I interned while a graduate student. She was my mom’s age; I was her daughter’s age. Over many years, she helped me navigate the unchartered journey of “doing it all” — professional career, motherhood, dual-career marriage, volunteerism and my budding entrepreneurial spirit. When I struggled with a failure (too many to list!), Frankie would say “essential character building opportunities, my dear.” Frankie died last year, but I try to honor her “unconditional support” in my daily mentoring/coaching of professional women also trying to “do it all.”
While Frankie’s mentoring throughout my diverse career was critical and steadfast, I’d like to give a “shout-out” to career advocates – individuals who use their power, presence and personal relationships – and take the time – to help advance others’ careers and businesses. Unlike “behind the scenes” mentoring, advocacy requires leaping from the personal to the public domain. Being an advocate can be risky and takes courage to put your own reputation on the line for another’s benefit. For me, Elonide Semmes holds that position, having helped me acquire my first major client (in 2000), thus launching my highly rewarding consulting practice. As with Frankie, I learned well from Elonide and have personally advocated for many colleagues over the years. For your long-term support, friendship and wisdom, I thank you Elonide!
What is the most vivid moment or experience in your career?
Back in the early ’80s, I decided to leave the higher education sector and join the corporate world. I got a senior position in Training & Development with Fleet Bank, a new and exciting HR opportunity with a powerful and growing RI company. The move more than doubled my salary and I was quite excited for my young family and myself. The two years I spent there were dark and the most personally difficult and professionally challenging of any period in my 43-year career. But, it honed my character, nurtured my professional values, developed a much needed business perspective and greatly expanded my skills and expertise. A real life and career changer! I stayed for two years because my mentor told me “stick it out — this will be your ticket to ride” and it was. My first law firm hired me largely because I had direct experience with and a keen understanding of the tough and demanding “eat what you kill” culture of Fleet Bank, that law firm’s no. 1 client.
Of the law-related projects or initiatives you’ve worked on in the past year or so, what has you the most excited or shows the most promise?
A former BD coaching client left the law firm to join the in-house ranks of the firm’s no. 1 client — as GC of one of its portfolio companies. An exciting move for her, and most satisfying for me, when she reached out to hire me to “coach” her in this new position, helping her navigate very unchartered waters. Then she retained me to coach one of her in-house senior attorneys and has asked me to help her improve communication/team-building/collaboration within the legal department. This reinforces the proven power of deep, strong and genuine relationships with your clients and it offers me the chance to leverage 25 years of legal experience to help improve the inner workings of a major corporate legal department.
What is the most engaging law-related thing you’re doing right now?
I’ve just begun working with a small group of newly-minted women partners in a 400+ attorney firm who have banded together to form a new practice targeted to small to mid-sized businesses (with an emphasis on women-owned), providing any service that might be needed, from start-up to sale and anything in between, including litigation, IP, real estate, commercial law, and employment matters. The combination of individual BD coaching (of each member of the group) and strategic business planning for this niche practice promises to be professionally challenging and personally rewarding.
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