Member Spotlight: Kate Stoddard

by Paulo Amaral on November 23, 2014

Kate Stoddard

Our Member Spotlight shines on Kate Stoddard, Director of Practice Development at Kelley Drye & Warren LLP. Kate is relatively new to New York, though not Kelley Drye, having moved to the Big Apple from her firm’s Washington office in January. She quickly joined the Metro LMA chapter and has become visible at a number of our events. Paulo Amaral talked with Kate, who has an MBA from the University of Maryland, to learn more about one of our chapter’s newest members.

Why and how did you get into Legal Marketing?

After I graduated from Georgetown University with a degree in psychology, I started my career in sales for the Corporate Executive Board. It was a great first job, but I realized that the position was not for me and that I wanted to contribute to larger strategic and creative projects. I moved on to a boutique marketing agency in D.C. that served professional services clients, one of which was Kelley Drye. I managed marketing and branding campaigns for a number of years until the opportunity to work directly for Kelley Drye presented itself. [Legal marketing] was not my long-term goal, but it ultimately turned out to be a fantastic opportunity and a great move.

What has been your experience in legal marketing?

People outside of the industry are often surprised and intrigued by the idea of marketing for a law firm. They don’t recognize that it is really a critical part of a law firm’s ability to differentiate itself from others and to develop new business strategically. I think it is important for attorneys to feel like they have a partner in their business development efforts to help them put their best foot forward and set themselves apart in a very competitive environment.

How does marketing a law firm compare to other professional services industries?

Professional services marketing comes down to relationships and that is our focus. Our roles are to help the attorneys nurture existing client relationships and develop opportunities to create new relationships that evolve into business. It’s about attorneys being in the right place, at the right time, with the right experience. And that is the same whether you are working in accounting, banking, or the law. The legal industry certainly has a lot of opportunity to embrace new approaches and technologies, but fundamentally, a lot of these techniques are similar across the different industries.

What differences do you notice between D.C. and New York?

In D.C., our firm, like many, has a regulatory focus, which means that the legal practices and BD activities closely track developments at government agencies and in Congress. The business development approach and cycle is somewhat different in New York where we’re following trends in litigation and handling transactions.

You’ve been in NYC for 10 months. What do you think of it and how has been your transition?

I am definitely a city person. I grew up outside of Philly and went to college in D.C. In fact, I thought I’d be in D.C. forever, until this great opportunity arose when the firm asked me to take a leadership role in New York. Fortunately I also have a nice network of friends and family in New York and New Jersey, so it’s been a very natural transition. I think the city agrees with me and vice versa.

Is there life outside legal marketing?

Yes! I was a member of the Junior League of Washington, and I transferred my membership to the New York Junior League, which is an organization of women committed to promoting volunteerism. It’s been great to get involved in volunteer and fundraising efforts that support the well-being of children and families. I’ve also really enjoyed simply exploring New York City – I’ll pick a neighborhood and spend the day walking around visiting stores and restaurants. I’ve been to several Broadway shows, seen an opera at the Met, and visited the New York Botanical Garden. I also do yoga a few times a week.

How neat! What type of yoga do you do?

Vinyasa

Does your yoga practice influence your life?

Yes. One of the things I really appreciate about yoga is that it focuses on balance: physically, as well as spiritually. That is a theme I appreciate in life. I work very hard at Kelley Drye, and it is important to also spend time with family and friends and other pursuits. It is easy to get sucked into work, but finding this balance of work and personal life is very important to me.

What inspired you to volunteer and give back to the community?

It’s something I’ve always done. I’ve had multiple influences, for example my parents put a high value on helping others and are models through their own volunteer efforts. And when I first went to Georgetown, which has a Jesuit influence, I participated in a pre-orientation week focused on community service. It was a fantastic introduction to D.C., a nice way to meet people, and it set the stage for me to continue volunteering as an adult. I’ve also been involved with the Red Cross and other nonprofits.

Are you a foodie?

I’d like to think so, but not really. I tend to stick to the go-to favorites.

Which are?

I am a Chipotle and pizza junkie, but I definitely also appreciate nice restaurants.

Any particular cuisine?

I like Italian food. I spent a semester abroad in Italy.

Oh! Do you speak Italian?

I can order food and go to the train station – I will put it that way.

Do you have a favorite getaway place?

For many years I’ve been vacationing in Jamestown, RI, a small island across from Newport. It’s a picturesque small town, very quaint and relaxing. I have a lot of family memories and traditions there. We usually spend time there each summer.

Kate, it’s been a pleasure!

Likewise!

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