“There are the hands that made us. And then the hands that guide the hands.” Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3

There are but a few movies in my life that so deftly balance abject horror and empathetic peril and heart-tugging poignancy that they reduce me to repeated fits of ugly crying: Dancer in the Dark, E.T., Watership Down, and now … Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 3?!? I did NOT see that coming.

This latest Marvel installment in the lives of Star-Lord Peter Quill’s merry band of space-faring misfits landed in theatres about a month ago. I’m behind. Hell, I’m only halfway through Ant-Man and Wasp: Quantumania on DVD. (It’s not nearly as compelling.) Nonetheless, I will try mightily to avoid spoiler territory while still warning my animal-loving, humanitarian friends that this damn movie is TRIGGERING. But toward good (I hope) ends. Director James Gunn has somehow fashioned a high-flying summer blockbuster from a timely, haunting cautionary tale against the evils of eugenics and animal experimentation. The man swings BIG and it lands (mostly) in a powerful way.

The film centers chiefly around the beloved miscreant Rocket Raccoon – voiced terrifically again by an unrecognizable Bradley Cooper, giving classic film mobster with heart of gold vibes. We finally learn Rocket’s backstory (although fans of the early 80s Rocket Raccoon mini-series by Bill Mantlo will see that Gunn doesn’t stray far from that source material). Told in flashback as the team races to save Rocket’s life after a random attack by literal golden boy Adam Warlock (a pouty Will Poulter, criminally underutilized given the vast potential of THAT trippy godlike character), we bear witness to Rocket’s deeply disturbing origins. He is a sweet, gentle raccoon cub plucked from his pack by the menacing High Evolutionary (Chukwudi Iwuji walking a fine line between outright scenery chewing and method acting tortured madness) and turned into a cyborg killing machine through relentless surgical and emotional abuse and manipulation.

Rocket has an adopted family in the Evolutionary’s HQ – similar cast offs: an otter, a walrus, a bunny … at least I think that last one is a bunny. They love each other, they are kind to each other, and they lift each other up in the most daunting of circumstances. Think the Plague Dogs by way of Frankenstein. Linda Cardellini, per usual, is particularly luminous and warm as the voice of otter Lylla. She offers the film’s central thesis with this line: “There are the hands that made us. And then the hands that guide the hands.” In an era of such ugliness toward all creatures great and small in America, this message of “found family” or “framily” couldn’t be more needed.

When Rocket, still hopeful for a better life, volunteers a scientific insight the Evolutionary has overlooked, Iwuji turns all “no wire hangers” Joan Crawford and things get EVEN uglier. Ain’t that always the way? Sadly, Rocket’s pals bear the brunt of Rocket’s “punishment.” It’s one of the hardest things I’ve witnessed on screen in years. It’s a really tough watch. Be prepared. Is it kid-friendly? Probably not. Is it essential and brave of Gunn and sends a piercing message about how all beings deserve grace and kindness? Darn tootin’. PETA should send screeners of the film to every household in America.

Further note, for those who worry about such things as I do, there is a wonderfully redemptive “button” toward the end of the film, where the menagerie of remaining animals imprisoned by the Evolutionary are all rescued Noah’s Ark style to live the rest of their days in peace and happiness in the Guardians’ Knowhere HQ. I know that’s a spoiler, but it’s the kind of spoiler I like to know going in. So you’re welcome. At the film’s climax, Rocket does get his revenge on the evolutionary but not as you might expect, ultimately delivering the kind of compassion Rocket was never shown. Rocket solemnly intones, “You didn’t want to make things perfect. You just hated the way things are.”

In parallel to the flashbacks to Rocket’s origin, the Guardians are scrambling in real time to find one MacGuffin after another that will save Rocket’s life. It’s all done in epic, manic, classic rock-soundtracked style – per prior films in the series. Gunn ensemble standby Nathan Fillion has great fun as a stoic, slightly dim, very uncollegial security guard, dressed like the Michelin Man … in creamy yellow. The best comic bits are offered by Guardians Drax (Dave Bautista, a lovely goof throughout), Mantis (Pom Klementieff, who does earnest rage better than anyone), and Nebula (Karen Gillan, who arguably has had the best arc of all in the series, never losing her ill-tempered ferocity but layering in beautiful moments of grudging compassion). At one point, Mantis cuts Nebula to the quick when Nebula has been disparaging Drax’s value as a teammate: “He makes us laugh. And he loves us. How is that a liability?” It’s a wonderful time capsule moment, capturing the dynamic authenticity of this great trio.

The film is far too long – I’m not sure what could have been cut, but a 30-minute shorter run time would have made the flick more of a jet-fueled roller coaster. Chris Pratt just seems worn out as Star-Lord at this point. He appears to have one note – one might call it “smugging” (read: smug mugging). It’s fine. It serves the role, but I think he (and we) need a break.

All in all, go for the incredibly deep message around animal autonomy, stick around for the day-glo shenanigans, enjoy your popcorn, and then have a thoughtful conversation at home about the crucial role we all must play in being better caretakers for all living beings. Bambi ain’t got nothing on Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 3.

Nexl covers #LMA23 … and highlights the critical importance of #community

Thank you, Nexl! “Over a month later, we’re still chatting about the incredible conference hosted by Legal Marketing Association – LMA International this year.

“In Part II of our special edition of This Legal Life, host Ben Chiriboga (Chief Growth Officer at Nexl) sits down with Roy Sexton, Rachel Shields Williams, Betty Burns, Purnima Gupta, Erika Galarneau, and Danielle Lopez!

“We dove into the following:

  1. What was your biggest takeaway from #LMA23?
  2. What does the LMA community mean to you?
  3. How has LMA made an impact on your career in legal marketing?”

Listen Now: https://rss.com/podcasts/thislegallife/984857/

Celebrating John Mola’s birthday in grand style, with a side of #StarTrek!

We had a fun pre-birthday Saturday adventure for John in Toledo. Beyond phenomenal lunch at Souk Mediterranean Kitchen & Bar. And then lovely, educational behind the scenes tour at The Toledo Zoo (pics prohibited alas). And it was 8000 degrees so we were wiped. Nap time 😴

And thank you to Robert Duncan McNeill – Star Trek Voyager’s Lieutenant Tom Paris – for this lovely birthday video message to my hubby. #livelongandprosper #doit


AMPLIFY (at home or office)! The #LMA23 Conference Recordings are now available! Latest and greatest on AI, ChatGPT, DEI, client teams, culture change, martech, ESG, biz dev, and more …

Now that the dust has settled and we’re back at it at our firms and organizations, I’m reflecting on what was extraordinarily created at LMA’s recent 2023 Annual Conference in Hollywood, Florida…abundant COMMUNITY.

Nearly 1,200 of us coming together in person to network, learn ― and sometimes commiserate! True to our conference theme of “Amplify” (our voices, careers, teams, work), the stellar education sessions covered everything from how law firms are or are not using ChatGPT, what works/doesn’t work/needs fixing in the eyes of General Counsel (spoiler alert – they’re FOR using AI!), the crucial value of storytelling and narrative in client connection, how DEI can and must be a pillar of firm culture and evolution, the latest vistas in martech, how to develop and retain talent, and the crucial role of client teams in the engagement and growth continuum among myriad other hot topics.

Couldn’t attend, want to re-watch a session or view a missed session? The #LMA23 Conference Recordings are now available! Check them out here — and note that the bundle includes special sessions like the GC Panel Gameshow Edition, Lifting the Veil: The Marriage of DEI, BD & LegalOps, and more! Log in and get yours now …

ORDER/ACCESS HERE: https://legalmarketing.org/Purchase/2023-lma-annual-conference-recording-bundle-mch?utm_campaign=LMA%20Annual%20Conference%20-%202021&utm_source=hs_email&utm_medium=email&_hsenc=p2ANqtz-8pys0gsTS0Qhw0RWLdYWvsn-yIRGjkEaUBWBO6YyUvim2wcZy9X4XRSzXlOkL2sa4IznMC

Opportunities to celebrate, reflect, opt-in ― and more playlists! LMA June message … #lma23 #lmamkt

Original post here.

June is bustin’ out all over

All over the meadow and the hill

Buds’re bustin’ outa bushes

And the rompin’ river pushes

Ev’ry little wheel that wheels beside a mill

— “June is Bustin’ Out All Over,” Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Carousel

These admittedly odd lyrics come from Rodgers and Hammerstein’s musical Carousel, which we theater nerds know is one of the more problematic entries in their canon, for many reasons I won’t bore you with here! But nonetheless, the sentiment of this ditty strikes me as right for this midpoint of the year. New life, sunshine, vibrancy, joy.

June also brings opportunities to celebrate and honor diversity, inclusion and shared history. Juneteenth and Pride celebrations across the world offer opportunities to celebrate and honor heritage, progress and hope. Although, I believe deep in my bones that these conversations and recognitions should never be limited to any given month, it remains important to mark these celebrations. They are too crucial to our collective understanding and growth to confine them by the calendar. With all the vitriol in the world, now is the time to show love, strength and authentic allyship. Reading the news right now can be an emotional and existential affront to many of us. LMA is strongest when we stand together. Make your voices heard and check in on each other. #SayLove #LMA-MRGs

I find myself in a reflective and, yes, celebratory mood at the six-month mark of my LMA presidency. The energy of the #LMA23 conference hasn’t abated. Our hope was to provide an empowering and inclusive experience that amplified our profession and our community. You took those ideas and expanded them in beautiful, inspiring ways — much like a beloved dance remix, taking what makes any song special and reinvigorating it to keep the party going. (If you couldn’t join in person or want to view a session you missed, the #LMA23 Conference Recordings were just made available!)

Speaking of which, it only seemed fitting that I offer another playlist for your summer months. This may be the most eclectic bunch to date, but these are tunes and vibes that get me in a good groove. And, yes, you’ll see I really had Eurovision, Jill Scott,The Wiz, Reba McEntire and Verve Records on the brain, among a number of other standbys, when I put this together. Stream or download on Spotify and iTunes. (Fun fact: I just learned Spotify links expire after seven days. Why? No clue… So, if you’re reading this later and can’t access it, drop me a line and I’ll generate a new link for you.)

By the way, we had a great post-#LMA23 Legal Marketing Coffee Talk chat with our keynote Laura Gassner Otting about her new book, “Wonderhell.” Queen of Miami Athena Dion also joined us to reflect on how much meeting all of you fabulous souls meant to them. If you missed it, you can check out the replay here! We talk a lot about mental health, self-care, living limitlessly and showing support for one another in these challenging times.

Coffee Talk collage_May 2023

I hope you have some self-care/re-energizing summer fun planned. It’s so crucial to take time away, unplug, have shared experiences, decompress and make new discoveries. Work and volunteer commitments will be there when you return and, in fact, will BENEFIT from you recharging and refreshing, bringing bold new ideas to your organizations.

Along those lines, LMA recently launched our Well-Being Pledge so we can commit to the well-being of others and ourselves. And please continue to avail yourselves of the excellent educational offerings through our Shared Interest Groups, Regions and Local Steering Committees. I know they refill my well of ideas and inspire me to do better, more fulfilling work every day.

Looking ahead, there’s still time to participate in the call for content/speakers for some of the regions’ fall meetings. The call for content for the 2024 international annual conference will launch later this month, too — plan now to attend! These are great opportunities for your voices to be heard, to share your ideas with colleagues, and to grow from collaboration. I know in the early days of my time at LMA (and through today) the firms which I have been privileged to support always appreciated the visibility this afforded them (and me!). I don’t say that from a place of ego, but to help connect the dots that your personal and professional growth has a holistic, organic benefit to the organizations you serve.

Now excuse me while I jam out to my latest, wacky, Day-Glo playlist and watch the geraniums bloom on my patio!

Love you!

Roy Sexton Signature_2



President, 2023 LMA International Board of Directors

Roy E. Sexton
Director of Marketing
Clark Hill

Save the Date! #LMA24 I April 3-5 I San Diego


“So many people felt like there was really a place for them this year to go.” LISI’s All The Things podcast recaps #LMA23

My goodness! Thank you, Jessica Horowitz and Robyn Addis! You’ve brought me to happy tears. Love you both!

LISTEN HERE: https://www.legalisi.com/news/one-more-thing-takeaways-from-lma23-conference-with-jessica-horowitz-torkin-manes-llp/


Jessica: It’s just amazing. I also think the energy and just the people and the inclusion, the variety of content that was shared, and the best practices, there was so much. And I know a lot of people say that the best part of a conference is the networking, but it really, really was. The conference just felt so energizing and vibrant and electric. For me, the highlight of the conference was Roy opening up the show to Miss Athena Dion singing Born This Way. I will just… I’ll never forget how powerful and impactful and beautiful that moment was.

Robyn: So I think that Roy deserves such an amazing shout-out because both just because of his presence and because of starting the conference that way and so many just little things that he and the conference planning committee put together, it felt… You said the word, it felt incredibly inclusive. And the proof is in the pudding, reportedly 40% of the attendees were first-time attendees. So that means that to me, the data nerd in me, the takeaway is that so many people felt like there was really a place for them this year to go. And there’s a lot coming out of COVID and the numbers changing and industry trends, a lot of that stuff. But still that really percolates to the top, in my opinion, 40% of the people brand new, reportedly across the board, the energy was just top level the entire time. Everybody was super excited to be there. So I got to tell Roy, you did an amazing, amazing thing.

Thank you, Crain’s Detroit! You are well-represented in our dining room!

A dear friend gave me great advice yesterday. We don’t have to give our trophies back. What she meant by that was that we don’t have to feel some need to repay recognition by pursuing the next great thing. She also suggested we don’t have to carry our trophies around with us everywhere we go (literally or figuratively) as that can burden us and prevent us from seeing/grabbing the next opportunity right in our midst.

That’s why these babies are going in the dining room. Lol. Because why not? Thank you, Crain’s Detroit Business, for both of these wonderful recognitions over the past couple of years. Really means the world to me. Back in my 20s, reading the print edition religiously, and studying lists like this, I wondered if one day I might be on one, let alone two! So thank you.

Thanks again to the organizations that allow me to be my best authentic self and contribute in ways that Crain’s deemed worthy of recognition: Clark Hill Law, Ronald McDonald House Charities Ann Arbor, Mosaic Youth Theatre of Detroit, and Legal Marketing Association – LMA International. Grateful for the opportunity to serve and create. Thank you, Tanner Friedman’s Joel K. Epstein and Matt Friedman and colleague Leslie Smithson for deftly helping navigate the submissions processes.

Finally, lest you think I am not humble enough, Hudson is duly unimpressed. He is far more interested in the sprinkler guy tromping around in his beloved yard this afternoon. It has NOT been a quiet Saturday! I think he believes he’s a ferocious lion – but his “roar” is more like the incessant rat-a-tat of a cap gun. Woof!

Laura Gassner Otting and Athena Dion joined Rob and me on Legal Marketing Coffee Talk to discuss #LMA23, authenticity, advocacy, and framily … and how #dragisnotdangerous

ICYMI – catch the replay here: https://fb.watch/kDGjJaum8Y/?mibextid=v7YzmG

Fab guests Laura Gassner Otting and Athena Dion joined Rob Kates and me to relive a bit of #LMA23. But quickly (sequins notwithstanding) the conversation turned toward authenticity and advocacy and framily. …

Learning that wonderhell isn’t a destination but a journey; that once you’ve achieved your goal living in a place of “how can I top that?” is doing yourself a disservice; that achievement is about what you learn about yourself and others in the process; that taking the pause after is ok and good because your next adventure will come naturally and organically through; and more.

Yes, we talked about Florida and how #dragisnotdangerous but also how this moment has revealed the good (and sometimes the disappointing) in those around us. We learned that “you don’t have to give your trophies back” after achievement. They’re yours. You earned them. Don’t feel an apologetic need to put them back in the universe. And that sometimes after achievement, a fulfilling path can be helping others then find theirs. And, oh, sometimes “rage and greed” (and borrowed couture) are the only spark one needs to go to that next level!

Shout outs during the show to Megan McKeon, Jennifer Petrone Dezso, Lee Ashby Watts, Danna Tauber, Rich Bracken, Jessica Aries, Holly Amatangelo, Lisa McDonald Kamen, Kevin Iredell, Jessica Haarsgaard, Susie Sexton, and more!

Video also available here on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/posts/kates-media_lma23-legalmarketingcoffeetalk-legalmarketing-activity-7062550244747534336-Nare?utm_source=share&utm_medium=member_ios

Keep on amplifying! Thank you, Edward Lovatt and Passle, for this lovely recap of #LMA23

Thank you, Edward Lovatt and Passle! This is lovely and so kind.

Read more herehttps://blog.passle.net/post/102if0y/keep-on-amplifying-recap-of-lma-annual-conference-2023

EXCERPT: The Legal Marketing Association – LMA Mid-Atlantic Region had a casual catch up today to recap on the brilliant conference nearly a month ago. Chris Fritsch of CLIENTSFirst led the panel of Tahisha Fugate of Axinn, Veltrop & Harkrider LLP, Bobbie Conklin of Steptoe & Johnson PLLC, and Jason Levin of Ready, Set, Launch, LLC. There was also a brief cameo from Roy Sexton, current President of the Legal Marketing Association – LMA International.

The panel and Roy kicked off by all agreeing that the Legal Marketing Association’s Annual Conference in Hollywood, Florida was a HUGE success. Attendees included many first-time conference goers, and the panel all concurred with Tahisha when she described the conference as an inclusive experience with something for everyone.

The conference focused on so many topics under the umbrella of Legal Marketing. Sessions were interactive, engaging, and provided practical advice on how to implement marketing and business development strategies.

The highlight of the conference might have been Roy on stage during the opening remarks. His energy and the atmosphere he created was something that continued throughout the entire conference. Jason was keen to point out that there is something special about LMA, the amount of support everyone has for each other and the encouragement for the new attendees to get stuck in.

Read more herehttps://blog.passle.net/post/102if0y/keep-on-amplifying-recap-of-lma-annual-conference-2023

#KeepingFamiliesClose … Thank you, Ronald McDonald House Charities Ann Arbor for allowing me six wonderful years of board service!

#KeepingFamiliesClose … Thank you, Ronald McDonald House Charities Ann Arbor CEO (and dear friend!) Kim Kelly for tapping me on the shoulder six years ago (tempus fugit!) to serve on this incredible board and to support this beautiful mission. I was deeply honored then … as I am now on my last day of board service. 🥹 Term limits, people!

I’ve learned and grown so much from this experience, one I will treasure all my days. It was a privilege to serve alongside such brilliant, caring, vibrant community members. And to work with such a marvelous and creative operational team. Too many to list here – plus, I’m sure they’ll be glad to never be tagged again in a million posts from me! But the growth and evolution has been remarkable and heartening to witness.

And special shout outs to the two incredible board presidents under whom I was honored to serve: Loree Collett (now emeritus – boo yah!) and John Zdanowski. I studied and observed everything you did and learned so much from you. Thank you for “seeing” me and for your grace, enthusiasm, kindness over all my ideas – be they big, small, terrible, indulgent, or just plain silly. And to incoming prez Mayuri Guntupalli, you are such a bright light with such deep insight and thoughtfulness. Can’t wait to cheer you and Kim and the board and the team on from the cheap seats! Go get ‘em!