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Interview conducted by Judith Zahid and Kiersta Halseth
1.) As the founder of your own legal marketing company, Tursi Law Marketing Management, and the co-founder and national chair of the Women in Law Empowerment Forum (WILEF), what does your typical day entail or should we ask, what doesn't it entail?
I work from my home but I maintain the same schedule as I did when I was in house as the equivalent of a Chief Marketing Officer (that title wasn't part of firm management at the time I served in the capacity) in law firms. I am in my office by 9:30 a.m. I generally spend the morning answering emails that have accumulated from midnight on. Then I turn my attention to WILEF and work on matters relating thereto for the balance of the day and sometimes well into the evening. As of January 1, 2011, I will no longer be involved in the world of legal marketing. I am turning my full attention to WILEF.
2.) In May of 2007, WILEF East held its first program, and in 2009, you took WILEF to a national platform with the creation of WILEF West. In a sense, WILEF is your baby. For those who are not familiar with WILEF, can you better explain its mission and why it's important not only to you but to female attorneys across the nation?
For many years, I watched as women in law firms struggled to get noticed and to be empowered to build books of business, get credit for that business and, if they so desired, become firm leaders. I wrote WILEF's mission statement which reads in part: Our vision is to create a dialogue for the purpose of educating women in law firms on how to become leaders in the workplace and in the community by building, exercising and implementing a strong sense of empowerment. My personal mission is that WILEF will be the catalyst that creates empowered and successful women lawyers.
3.) You have been characterized as "the guardian angel" to women in the legal profession, and in 1997 you were awarded the ABA Law Practice Management Section "Golden Hammer Award" which recognizes individuals in the legal profession who have been instrumental in helping women in law attain their goals and break the glass ceiling. But early on in your career, you dabbled in fashion and restaurant marketing, so at what age did you decide the legal profession was right for you? Did you have an "ah ha" moment?
I did leave the legal profession for a short time to as you said "dabble" in fashion and restaurant marketing, but it soon became clear to me (and maybe this was my "ah ha" moment) that the legal profession was in need of my talents in marketing and business development. You know fashion and restaurant marketing is not all that different than legal marketing. Fashion promotes a product-clothes; restaurants promote food and ambiance and lawyers promote their services. Believe it or not, there have been many times when I used my fashion/restaurant marketing techniques to create business development plans for lawyers.
4.) As a mentor and "guardian angel" to female attorneys across the nation, did you have a mentor or mentors as you started making your way?
Absolutely. I had two fantastic men (both chairs of the firms where I was the head of marketing) and several women, two of whom were instrumental in getting me involved in women in law issues.
5.) If you could describe your career path in one word, what would it be?
6.) If you had it to do all over again, would you change your career path? If so, what would you have wanted to do instead?
I am living my dream and that dream is the reality of founding WILEF.
7.) What is the most frequent question (and respective answer) you receive from your female colleagues?
Where does all your energy come from? I am energized by loving my life and what I do for others. I love to give of myself.
8.) How about your male colleagues?
Same question. Same answer.
9.) As a frequently-quoted and sought-after speaker and published author on subjects focusing on strategic planning, marketing, client relationship management, public relations, attorney retention, law firm leadership, and women in law issues, what is the most rewarding part of your job?
Well, I would have to say that at present, the commentary I receive from people who are involved in WILEF and who attend WILEF events is so rewarding. I am proud of all that WILEF has achieved and I will continue to make WILEF in to the "go to" forum for women in law firms and Corporate America.
10.) Any specific goals (either personal or professional) for the coming year?
Getting WILEF Chicago up and running; celebrating WILEF's Fifth Anniversary; and launching WILEF's Certification Project. I'd like to describe in a nutshell what the Certification Project entails. WILEF will invite law firms to participate in an annual Gold Standard Certification directed towards publicly recognizing and broadly publicizing eligible law firms that have integrated significant numbers of women into the highest leadership positions within the firm. Certification will be awarded to the firms whose responses indicate that women have attained the highest level of leadership and compensation. I believe that this type of recognition is long overdue.