Nearly a month ago, nearly 1,200 legal marketing professionals gathered in Hollywood, Florida, for #LMA23, and now we’re hitting the highlights (and high notes) with “#LMA23 … the Aftermath LIVE”—Andy Cohen and the Bravo team only wish they could produce a reunion show this juicy and grand!
LMA ‘23 fab keynote speaker – acclaimed best-selling author, catalyst, and executive coach, Laura Gassner Otting – will join us to share her reflections on the event, as well as chat about her background, love of dogs, supportive family, her new book, “Wonderhell,” and… well, any other topic that springs to mind. This is sure to be a joy-filled, funny, candid conversation with host Roy Sexton.
But wait! There’s more! That Greek Goddess, the Queen of Miami, Athena Dion, will be putting in an appearance as well, revisiting that moment this trio stormed the stage in Florida for their definitive, sequin-filled musical statement on the importance of inclusion and community. Don’t miss this episode!
Thank you, Nick! I’m grateful for you and for this lovely opportunity. ✨ Nick writes: “Attention all entrepreneurs, leaders, and marketers! 🔊🎙️ In this week’s podcast episode, I sat down with the remarkable Roy Sexton to explore the fascinating intersection of theatre and business.
“What I found most inspiring about this conversation was Roy’s authenticity and vulnerability as he shared his childhood stories and how they have shaped his leadership style.
“If you’re looking for fresh perspectives and innovative strategies to take your business or career to the next level, you don’t want to miss this episode. Tune in now and join us for a captivating conversation that will leave you inspired and empowered.”
Show description: “Welcome back to another episode of Leadership Lessons podcast, where we explore the intersection of leadership, entrepreneurship, business and life. Today, we have a very special guest with us, Roy Sexton, a leader in legal marketing and a great human being. In this episode, we dive deep into the topic of authenticity in leadership and marketing. Roy shares his insights and experiences on how being authentic can impact the success of your business and leadership style. We discuss the importance of understanding and communicating your values, staying true to yourself and your brand, and how to build trust with your audience. Roy shares his strategies for creating a culture of authenticity within his own organization and how it has positively impacted his team’s performance. And we delve into Roy’s childhood stories and how they have shaped his leadership style and marketing approach.
“This episode is a must-listen for anyone interested in leadership, marketing, or the intersection between theatre and business. John’s insights and experiences are both inspiring and informative, and I’m sure you’ll enjoy our conversation as much as I did.”
Thank you, Jeremy Barker and Above the Law, for this wonderful and thoughtful coverage of Legal Marketing Association – LMA International’s #LMA23, notably our dynamite GC panel, moderated by conference co-chair Jennifer Petrone Dezso with panelists Descartes Systems Group’s Peter V. Nguyen, Bates White Economic Consulting’s Jodi Trulove, and Fender’s Aarash Darroodi. Some great nuggets here for law firm leaders, attorneys, legal marketers, business development pros.
EXCERPT: Nearly 1,200 attendees packed the Diplomat Beach Resort in Hollywood, Florida, late last month for the Legal Marketing Association’s annual gathering.
The agenda was filled with programs exploring niche areas — ESG guidance for firms, the science behind rainmaking, and DEI communications best practices, to name a few.
A keynote by the author Laura Gassner Otting and networking events like an ’80s dance party helped round out the three days of professional offerings (and good vibes).
“The energy and sense of community at this conference was unique, motivating and palpable,” LMA President Roy Sexton wrote on LinkedIn.
One perennial LMA favorite is the general counsel panel, and this year’s drew inspiration from daytime TV.
Presented on a festival-style stage, “How to Win Big at the Legal Marketing Gameshow” saw Jennifer Dezso of Thomson Reuters leading three GCs through a wide-ranging discussion of what law firms are doing right and what they’re getting wrong.
If there was one clear theme throughout the panel, it’s that private practice lawyers who show curiosity about their clients will score big points with general counsel.
Peter Nguyen, GC of the Descartes Systems Group, described curiosity as the key differentiator in evaluating the law firms he works with.
“I want to have that engagement,” he said. “I want you to really understand — want to understand — what it is about my business that you can help us with.”
This curiosity is often central to the value law firms provide.
That’s because general counsel aren’t looking to just get answers to legal questions. They want guidance based on an organization’s unique goals and circumstances.
“Sometimes lawyers are a little hesitant to actually weigh in and give an opinion on what you should do,” said Jodi Trulove, general counsel at Bates White LLC. “We want you to tell us what you think we should do, but you have to understand us first.”
For law firms looking to demonstrate this trait to potential clients, the RFP process provides one big opportunity.
Fender’s general counsel, Aarash Darroodi, described receiving template-based RFP responses from law firms — an approach he called “fundamentally a mistake.”
Instead, he would like to see a law firm respond to an RFP with an offer to come look at the company’s operations in-depth, gaining a better picture of his organization before a proposal is prepared.
Thank you, Tasneem K. Khokha, Alycia Sutor, Debbie Knupp, Holly Barocio, and GrowthPlay 💕 … I am honored by this inclusion, but even more touched that this is my mom‘s mantra carrying on. Thank you for all you give to our community. Your hearts and brains and beautiful intentions inspire us all. Love you very much!
Fate brings people together at just the right time and just the right moment. Laura Gassner Otting is such a gift. This message below had me beautifully gobsmacked. I’m honored and touched – but more importantly I love how she sees our Legal Marketing Association – LMA International community. These are special souls and her message will mean the world to all.
This past week I keynoted one of the most fantastic events ever. It was the Legal Marketing Association’s annual conference, and while you might think that an association conference could never be exciting or even surprise you… you’d be wrong. Dead wrong.
And here’s why.
Roy Sexton is the chair of the association, and Roy knew his members, and he knew what his members needed: an emotional release, unbridled joy, and amplification of their truest selves after a long few years of taking it on the chin. And, he decided to give them exactly what they needed in the form rainbows, sequins, wigs, and platform heels.
Yes, my friends, there was a drag queen duet to start a conference of 1100 legal marketers. Because why not, right?
My call time for the stage was 9am. At 8:15am the doors opened. All 1100 of the legal marketers in attendance filed in and found their seats. (My parents, who had never seen me speak, were also there and filed in alongside the attendees.) People were subdued, back together for the first time in years, an early morning after late night travel, and while they were excited to see each other, there was a palpable nervousness in the air.
At 8:30am, the room went dark, and Roy, backstage and bejeweled from head to toe in a rainbow-sequined tuxedo tails and silver shirt and pants started singing the opening bars to Born This Way by Lady Gaga. The audience started clapping in time as he came out from behind the curtain and performed the first part of the song.
But, wait! There’s more!
As he began to belt out the chorus, Athena Dion, The Greek Goddess, strode out to join him, and together they sang. The audience was on their feet. The room was pumping. The audience sang and danced as they worked the room like a runway.
Regardless of where you stand on the nonsense fight going on about drag queens — I mean, let’s face it, with the existential climate crisis and rampant mass shootings, don’t we have bigger fish to fry?!? — you can’t help but fall in love with love.
(By the way, if this week’s newsletter offends you, feel free to show yourself out here by unsubscribing. It’s cool.)
Roy wanted to open this conference — the first time they were all back together in three years — with a message: a welcome mat laid out wide, love for all, amplification for every one of us.
Here’s what I know to be true this week: There are million billion miles between being loved and being seen. (Tweet this.)
So many of us feel unseen. Even if we feel loved, we stand nervously on edge, worrying about whether of not people will love the real us when we show them who we really are. Roy blew the doors off of that notion, inviting the entire audience in to his world, and showing them that they could invite him into theirs.
Oh, and, from now on, I’m going to insist in my rider that a drag queen opens every keynote for me.
I’m not sure I gave this its proper due last week. I had a *bit* going on with Legal Marketing Association – LMA International’s #LMA23 annual conference – drag queens, sequins, stellar keynote Laura Gassner Otting, and off-the-chain content and networking with THE best legal marketing pros in the business. Last week was, well, epic. And I will be on Cloud 9 for months/years to come as a result.
Still, being named one of this year’s “Notable Leaders in Marketing” by Crains Detroit Business is truly one of the honors of my life. 20 some years ago I remember sitting down and reading the paper edition of Crain’s every week and looking at lists like this with admiration and wondering if I would ever make it on to one of them. So this recognition really means the world to me, and particularly to be acknowledged in the broader category of marketing, regardless of industry supported, feels truly special.
Sexton manages a staff of 12 marketing professionals, a seven-figure marketing budget and two public relations firms at Clark Hill Law. There, he is also responsible for internal and external communications and social media content. His efforts to ramp up video marketing through social media helped increase online video views to 500,000 in 2021 and more than 750,000 in 2022.
“Roy’s enthusiasm for his work and community shows through in the way he embraces any activity he engages in,” said Detroit Regional Partnership President and Maureen Donohue Krauss.
Further, Sexton has championed and executed the firm’s Simply Smarter branding campaign and new website launch, for which Clark Hill received the 2022 Best Marketing Campaign award from the London-based Managing Partners’ Forum.
His many community and corporate service efforts include serving on the governance committee for the Mosaic Youth Theatre of Detroit board and his work as chair of the marketing committee for Ronald McDonald House Charities Ann Arbor. Sexton also served as a governor-appointed member of the Michigan Council of Labor and Economic Growth.
From the original show description: “If you’ll be at the conference, come by The LMA23 / Kates Media: Video Studio, Booth 100 in the Marketplace, and watch this live event. If you can’t make it to the conference, watch us on the LMA Facebook, LinkedIn or YouTube channels.
“Be part of our studio audience, get a chance to be on the show and meet the Legal Marketing Coffee Talk gang, Rob Kates, Jessica Aries, Tahisha Fugate, Andrew Laver, and moi.
“And… If you can’t make it to the live show, we’ll be bringing you #LMA23 highlights live on your favorite social media channel throughout the conference. See you from Florida!”
Thank you, Robert Clarke and Elevate, for the lovely chat and this interview write-up. I enjoyed our conversation immensely ✨
“Roy Sexton on Teams, Leadership and Learning: ‘You’re only as good as the rest of the cast. Bad actors are the ones who only worry about themselves, whereas good performers think: How can I help the entire cast be good? The audience experiences the entire show, not just one performer – not just the lead. It’s the same in business…’ #elevateelite #leadership #learning Click image for more.”
Thank you, Beth Little Bell, for joining Rob and me today! You are such an authentic soul with a keen eye toward story-telling and culture building. #LMAmkt is truly fortunate to have you in our community. Appreciated how you painted a clear picture of the life of the solo marketer as brand and culture builder and how you use social media, community engagement, and thought leadership to support the DeFur Voran team.
And that team LOVES you – I don’t think in the history of the show we have EVER had so many of a marketer’s attorneys watch and express their heartfelt appreciation. You are clearly doing something right! Congrats on that new grandbaby, and thanks for all you do for Wabash College as well. Thanks one more time to Greg Castanias for connecting us.
Show description: Roy’s guest on our October 6 show was Elizabeth Bell, who leads marketing efforts for DeFur Voran LLP. She has also worked in the legal space as a law firm administrator and paralegal. Spoiler alert: she, like Roy, is a Hoosier AND has a storied background with his alma mater Wabash College. (And she just may have attended Wabash’s fierce rival school DePauw University … so sparks may fly!)
Beth is currently building a marketing program at her firm, and can speak to the opportunities and challenges facing the solo marketer. Roy and Beth unpack how one can leverage servant leadership to help support a small firm on its growth journey and how to build out the resources needed to “do all the things” required for effective law firm marketing and business development when you are a mighty team of ONE!
Legal Marketing Coffee Talk is brought to you by: By Aries and Kates Media: Video Production.
Thrilled to be moderating the opening session of this essential #legalmarketing boot camp. Thank you, LMA Northeast Region, Michelle Upchurch Murray, Jennifer Manton, Deborah Scaringi for your leadership here in bringing this to our Legal Marketing Association – LMA International members.
SESSION DESCRIPTION: We are privileged to work in a dynamic, rapidly evolving industry. The legal marketing and business development profession has a multiplicity of career paths and opportunities. Since hustle is our middle name as legal marketers, our own needs sometimes get lost in the shuffle of being in service to others. Being intentional about aligning your talents, desires, interests, and aspirations is more crucial than ever to continued success.
Please join us for a candid, lively conversation with leading lights in our industry on how they themselves shaped their careers amidst an ever changing landscape. We will highlight the career tracks available to you – business development, technologist, marketing and digital strategy, events, branding, coaching, consulting, and so much more – as well as projects you should pursue to maximize your visibility and impact. We will cover the importance of your own personal branding, how to stay relevant and known in this industry, and the importance of leaning on this LMA community to enrich your career.
Moderator – Roy Sexton, Director of Marketing, Clark Hill Law
Robyn Addis, Chief Marketing and Business Development Officer, Legal Internet Solutions Incorporated
Michael Coston, CEO, Coston Consulting
Melissa Ertek, Chief Development Officer, Winston & Strawn LLP
Audra Triplett, Senior Manager, Business Development & Marketing, Foley & Lardner LLP
Thank you, Sheila Pursglove, Joel K. Epstein, Brian Cox, Brad Thompson, and crew! Front page above the fold TWO WEEKS in a row? It’s the hair, isn’t it? Tell me it’s the hair. In all seriousness, thank you for the kindness, friendship, and support – it means the world.
Roy Sexton leads Clark Hill Law’s marketing, branding, and communications efforts in collaboration with the firm’s team of marketing and business development professionals. He has nearly 20 years of experience in marketing, communications, business development, and strategic planning.
Sexton is passionate about problem solving, facilitating business growth, crafting communications strategy, and enhancing law firm culture. He works closely with the marketing team to advance the firm’s digital and social media presence and external engagement, using multi-channel distribution and data collection. This enables the team to quantify results and use those results to produce thoughtfully and strategically organized content for clients and prospects. He also advises attorneys on marketing and business development strategy by curating relationships among external publications and media outlets and creating the appropriate platforms and opportunities for attorneys to promote their knowledge and practice.
A resident of Saline, Sexton has been heavily involved regionally and nationally in the Legal Marketing Association – LMA International (LMA) as a board member, content expert, and presenter. He will serve as the LMA’s president in 2023. In addition, Sexton is a published author of two books: “ReelRoyReviews,” Volumes 1 and 2.
What would surprise people about your job?
People still seem pleasantly surprised that I have a global focus. Clark Hill is a huge firm with an international footprint, and, while Michigan will always be home, my responsibilities span the U.S., Mexico, and Ireland. And my fab boss Susan Ahern, our CMBDO, is based in Dublin. I’ve learned to become quite savvy about time zones!
What’s your favorite law-related TV show?
I always say “The Good Wife.” The trials and tribulations of Alan Cumming’s character in particular. In a law firm, no two days are the same when you hold a marketing role. It’s thrilling and sometimes comical how your work runs the gamut from the sublime to, well, I won’t finish that sentence.
If you could trade places with someone for a day, who would that be?
Weird as this is to type, I’d trade places with my mom Susie Sexton (who recently passed) so she could have a good chance to say goodbye. She left this world rather abruptly (heart attack), and, having sheltered away for months and months because of COVID, I don’t know that she got a chance to reconnect with people she loved before she vanished. I don’t mean all that to seem as dour as it reads, but I wish she’d had one truly happy day before she was gone.
What do you do to relax?
My inner introvert shines on days off. Admittedly, I have to get through any and all chores first. I also eat the things I don’t much like on my plate first too. But once I’m free and clear, it’s pajamas, comic books, bad pop music, playing with our fur baby Hudson, having a quiet dinner with my husband, and watching some escapist TV.
What other career path might you have chosen?
I have a master’s degree in theatre and thought for a while that I would get a Ph.D. and go into academia. But I wanted to eat. I still wonder what would have happened if I’d tried the “chuck it all and audition for Broadway/Hollywood” route also. But I have such a happy and fulfilling life that I have zero regrets.
What would you say to your 16-year-old self?
Enjoy the moments with people you might not know you will see again. We are always all so enmeshed in petty dramas or accomplishing some task or rushing off to the next event that we miss the moments that matter. I wish I’d curbed my rampant collecting habits (books, movies, music, toys) early on and put more energy into collecting experiences. And I wish I’d enjoyed being skinny! I was so self-conscious back then about not looking like a Men’s Health model, and I should have just appreciated being me!
Favorite local hangouts?
Seva Ann Arbor has become our “Cheers.” We are vegetarians and still a bit cautious about getting out and about too many places. The food is glorious but it’s the staff who have made us feel so welcome and loved. Every Saturday night – and sometimes Fridays too. I also am a bit obsessed with Target, and I love Vault of Midnight (comic book shop). I really need to get a life!
Oh, I’m such a menace on all social media apps. And I still love iTunes/Apple Music (lord, I’m a dinosaur). And Layout is a great little app for simple photo collages.
I’m a gay man raised in the ’80s: Madonna, Janet Jackson, Tori Amos, Cher, Whitney Houston, George Michael, New Order, Kylie Minogue, Annie Lennox, k.d. lang … basically any and all dance pop with a slight edge to it. And that sensibility continues: Taylor Swift, Britney Spears, Dua Lipa, Lizzo, Miley Cyrus, Katy Perry … well, you get the gist.
What is your happiest childhood memory?
I didn’t have many birthday parties. I am an only child, but it just wasn’t something we did. My birthday is December 28, which coincided with my parents’ wedding anniversary. Smack dab in the middle of the holidays, not super conducive to adding another gathering to the mix. But I remember one (of two) childhood parties where my parents, grandparents, and a couple of friends all gathered in our dining room for cake and ice cream. And it was all just quiet and loving and warm. I had a wonderful childhood, and have so many memories but that one sticks out right now as I just turned 50!
What is your most treasured material possession?
When he died, my grandfather Roy Duncan left me his mother’s college ring with “1900” (her graduation year) emblazoned across it. He wore it every day of his life, and I’ve worn it every day of my life since he passed in 1983. In fact, my fingers are so fat now I can’t remove it even if I wanted to. And I don’t! I just think it’s a beautiful reminder of legacy.
What do you wish someone would invent?
Something that makes everyone less reactionary and adversarial over the smallest things. As I age, I just find it harder and harder to understand why people point out flaws, undercut others, argue to prove a point … it’s just so much time wasted. And when I’m being ugly or receiving ugliness, I just feel it as tension in my chest, and I don’t know why people want to walk around like that.
What has been your favorite year so far and why?
2000 – the year I met my husband. It was also a very tough year – I came out to my parents (didn’t go well … like spectacularly so) and John ended up getting a foreign assignment in Japan just months after we met. But it was a year that brought him into my life, it was a year that taught me resilience, and it was a year that set me on a path to genuine happiness.
What’s the most awe-inspiring place you’ve ever been?
Tokyo, Japan when I was in high school. The U.S. Senate had a program in the ‘80s with Youth for Understanding where they sent two “youth ambassadors” from each state to Japan for the summer. I’d never been anywhere. To be immersed in such a vibrant, dynamic, bustling environment with so much to see and try and do, it was overwhelming in all the best ways. A transformative summer. I still feel electricity in my bones when I’m in big city like that.
If you could have one super power, what would it be?
Help everyone be a bit kinder. It’s easy and lazy to be mean. It takes a little effort to show appreciation. But is so much more rewarding.
What’s one thing you would like to learn to do?
Play the piano. Not ever gonna happen. I’ve tried a few times. I don’t have the discipline. But I wish I could accompany myself as a singer. Would save money!
What is something most people don’t know about you?
I wrote a column for our hometown paper in high school. It was called “AdoleSENSE” and was about my experience in small town America. I also wrote the occasional feature story, and the longer they were, the more money I got. I could write a LOT … which bought me more comic books. I also won the national PTA Reflections writing contest three (or four?) years in a row in elementary school.
If you could have dinner with three people, past or present, who would they be?
Jennifer Garner, Wanda Sykes, Melissa McCarthy, Kate McKinnon, Mindy Kaling, Kelly Ripa, Parker Posey, Aidy Bryant, and Jane Fonda. Yes, I know that is triple the requested number. This answer has evolved for me over the years. Now I just want to have dinner with nice people who will make me laugh or inspire me.
What’s the best advice you ever received?
From my boss Susan Ahern: “Take the pause. Not everything has to be rushed. Pick up the phone before the e-mails escalate. You don’t need to feel pressured to entertain or make everyone laugh. Just be.” It’s a paraphrased compilation of thoughts, but her advice has been transformative.
Favorite place to spend money?
Seva Ann Arbor, Target, Vault of Midnight … and Amazon.com! Heaven help me.
What is your motto?
“It’s okay to not be okay.” Something more recent, but I have a lapel pin with that thought and I wear it frequently. As much to remind myself as anyone else!
Which living person do you most admire?
My dad Don Sexton has been through a lot the past couple of years. He retired, lost my mom, began a new relationship with a wonderful soul, transformed his home (still working on that), travels, and has remained buoyant and resilient throughout. I admire how he has embraced life when others might have crumbled. It’s kept me from crumbling myself just to observe!
What do you consider to be your greatest achievement?
Staying true to myself. I’m odd. Some have called me quirky. But (mostly) I’ve not twisted myself into some unrecognizable version of Roy to get ahead or to be liked. At least I hope that’s the case!
What is the most unusual thing you have done?
I don’t know if this qualifies, but my husband John Mola is a fan of the singing group 98 Degrees. Over the years, we’ve seen them multiple times as they’ve devolved into a career of casino performing. Consequently, their meet and greets are pretty affordable, and we’ve gotten to the point of affirmative facial recognition from them when we show up! Jeff Timmons even follows me on Twitter. Ah, we’ve arrived!
We are all grateful for YOU and for all you are doing for our profession and industry. EXCERPT:
“I’m Roy Sexton, Director of Marketing for Clark Hill Law and I am also the 2023 international President of the Legal Marketing Association – LMA International. I am thankful for a group of humans I met early on when I joined the Legal Marketing Association. Gina Furia Rubel, Nancy Leyes Myrland, Heather Morse-Geller, Gail Porter Lamarche, Lindsay Griffiths, and Laura Toledo
“We’ve all kind of now moved on and gone our separate ways in some respects, but that was the core group. I tell this story quite a bit. I was at the Orlando LMA annual conference and shy and nervous, which nobody believes, and feeling very insecure and I was lurking around the pool. Nothing good usually comes from that. And they were all there as a social media special interest group, having a meetup.
“And Gina saw me and she said, ‘Come over here. Who are you?’ And sometimes I cry when I say this because she just wrapped me in love and got to know me during the course of that afternoon. And they became my mentors and my friends, and they have been with me ever since, supporting me, giving me hard truth, and helping show me the way through this profession.
“And I had always had a fairly serendipitous career until I met them. And it really locked in that I like what I do, I like who I support, and I will always credit them for the mentoring they provided me early on, the way they adopted me and the way they’ve looked out for me ever since.”