Market Leaders Podcast Episode 72: “Making an Impact in the Short-Term” with Maggie Garden

We place a lot of stock in strong beginnings: the first 100 days of a presidency, the first 10 minutes of a film, the first impression we form when meeting a new person. A strong beginning sets expectations, and solidifies our faith in someone’s competence and capabilities.

In this episode of the Market Leaders Podcast, Maggie Garden, Director of Business Development at Shipman & Goodwin LLP, discusses how she’s positively impacted Shipman’s BD culture just 3 months after stepping into her new role.

Tune in to hear Maggie discuss:

  • Some of the needs she identified when first landing at Shipman
  • Shipman’s structured approach and use of technology to operationalize BD
  • How the BD team proactively breaks down silos between practice groups
  • The learning services initiative and LinkedIn training she spearheaded to help close the BD skills gap among lawyers
  • How the firm integrates education into thought leadership with its client podcast series
  • Maggie’s philosophy of bringing humanity back to business
[00:00:00.170] – Intro

Welcome to the Market Leaders Podcast, where you’ll find valuable marketing and business development insights from innovative thinkers. The podcast series is brought to you by Ackert, the company behind PipelinePlus. Tired of overcomplicated CRM? PipelinePlus is the easiest business development tool you’ll ever use. It helps you organize and focus on your most important relationships with instructional e-learning tutorials, and concrete suggestions from our built in AI. PipelinePlus gives you everything you need to get new business from your existing network. Visit to learn more.

[00:00:36.220] – David Ackert

Hello and welcome back to the Market Leaders Podcast. I’m David Ackert, and today our guest is Maggie Garden, the Director of Business Development at Shipman and Goodwin. Maggie, thanks for being with us.

[00:00:45.980] – Maggie Garden

So happy to be here. Thanks for having me, David.

[00:00:47.910] – David Ackert

So today we’re going to talk about making a short term impact at a law firm. But before we dive into that, I’d love to hear a little bit about you. Tell us about your background.

[00:00:56.510] – Maggie Garden

So for the last 20 years, I’ve been in a marketing and communication type of role. I’ve helped companies with their marketing and strategic planning, corporate communications, client development, that type of thing. My passion is definitely building relationships, fostering those relationships, maintaining them both personally and professionally. At Shipman and Goodwin, I’m their Director of Business Development, and I do work directly with several practice groups at the firm, but I also work on strengthening some of the firm’s strategic and industry partnerships and on a bunch of other marketing and business development projects. It’s been a lot of fun being here. I’m very happy to be part of the team.

[00:01:30.110] – David Ackert

How long have you been at the firm?

[00:01:31.490] – Maggie Garden

Going on three months.

[00:01:32.740] – David Ackert

Okay, so relatively new, but some of the things you talked about really are longterm initiatives. So I’m really curious about this sort of notion of making an impact in the near term. Right, in the first three months that you landed at Shipman, tell us a little bit about some of the needs you identified when you first arrived on the scene.

[00:01:50.780] – Maggie Garden

Sure. I have to say, when I first arrived on the scene, I was very impressed with the marketing and business development team that was already here in place and the support that they provided to the attorneys and the firm as a whole. In fact, I think that’s what attracted me to joining Shipman in the first place is this marketing and business development team. Everybody has this own unique set of skills and talents that they bring to the business development initiatives, and it was really awesome to come to a place like that. At my last job, I was the sole marketing and business development person for that law firm. So coming here and being part of a team was awesome. But I can tell you, as soon as I joined Shipman, I jumped right into a business development initiative that we’re calling the Shipman Learning Series, and that’s about increasing awareness about marketing and business development initiatives. We’re offering our team here helpful tips and hints and best practices on a variety of levels. I think one of the coolest things we’re doing is we’re providing this content using multiple mediums. So there’s something for everybody, whether it’s a webinar, a short video, maybe it’s just an email piece, maybe it’s a podcast. But we know everybody’s super busy. So we’re making sure that we’re providing them these tools in bite size pieces and if they can’t join us in real time, we do have it all stored on the internet so they can view it at their convenience. And we recently just did a learning series all about LinkedIn, how to build a great profile, but then also how to utilize the platform to help build your brand and build your business. So that’s been a lot of fun, kind of integrating education through various efforts.

[00:03:14.490] – David Ackert

It sounds like one of the first things that you observed was an opportunity to close that business development skills gap among lawyers, which we see at every firm. So I’m not surprised that when you landed at Shipman that was some low hanging fruit in terms of an impact you could have.

[00:03:28.640] – Maggie Garden


[00:03:29.440] – David Ackert

So what was their response to this? I’m curious. I mean, sometimes firms are a little bit slow to take up these kinds of educational initiatives or maybe they are thinking a little bit more traditionally like, “ehhh, business development, I mean, we’ve had a good couple of years, we probably don’t need that so much, or that’s not really something that I’m interested in, etc.” What was the reaction when you started recommending the Learning Services initiative?

[00:03:51.990] – Maggie Garden

So the business development team has been a part of Shipman for many years, the marketing people here, we have people who work on proposals, we have people who do a lot behind the scenes. So when I came on board, I think I was just an extension of that, and I brought a lot of business development experiences. I would say it’s been well received. We’ve worked on it together as a team. Shipman is very…they’re always thinking about ways to better their employees and their teams and especially the attorneys, and I found that so fascinating when I joined Shipman is they do have this structured approach to business development, and it’s great to be a part of it. One of the things that Shipman does on a regular basis is we have these meetings with our associates to discuss their business development plan. So for instance, when attorneys first come on board, we will meet with with them and say “hey, in five years, where would you like to see your practice? What are industry organizations you can be active in?” And we help them with this business development plan of sorts. But not only do we do the plan, but we help them along the way with the steps so that they can achieve their goals. So Shipman has been super. They’ve received everything so well. It’s been a real pleasure for sure.

[00:04:52.960] – David Ackert

It sounds like you were building on some of that structure that had already been put in place by the BD team. So some of that structure includes regular associate meetings to discuss their business development plans. What are some other elements to that structure that helps create this foundation?

[00:05:07.290] – Maggie Garden

So I think they do, I mean, a number of things. I thought the business development meetings were huge because they’re not just meeting with them straight from the get go. They’re meeting with them at year one, but then they’ll meet with them again at year five, and they’ll continue that process. But they also offer a wide variety of ways for these attorneys to get their name out there, to get their practice group out there. And that can be via webinar, via podcast, via marketing collateral, making sure that our attorneys are involved in various industry organizations so that they’re able to get out and meet potential business partners but also engage with existing business partnerships. So there’s such a wide variety of things that we do here. But I find the whole thing to be pretty awesome to have an actual team that helps you do all of those things so the attorneys can focus on what they do best, which is practice law.

[00:05:49.890] – David Ackert

Let’s talk about two of the things that a lot of firms really struggle with when it comes to putting a structure around business development. One is breaking down silos between practice groups and the other is operationalizing business development: really making sure that all of this education and all of this discussion and all of this business plan review and all of these things that are happening backstage, if you will, actually have a front stage effect and result in conversations with clients and prospects. Start with the breaking down silos between practice groups. How does the firm tackle that?

[00:06:22.200] – Maggie Garden

Yeah, no, I think that’s great. I think you’re absolutely right. A lot of law firms and businesses in general struggle with that. I think we work with our lawyers to cross educate internally amongst practice groups and to help everybody at Shipman understand what the other areas of practice do. I mean, I think one of the trends overall is that each of our practice groups can help each other, right? So let’s say, for instance, cannabis. We have a cannabis practice. Obviously with cannabis, you’re going to need the real estate practice involved because there’s zoning. You’re going to need labor and employee relations involved because these people are going to have a staff. We have a variety of ways of educating our team, whether it’s a podcast internally, or sending out marketing collateral, or just really overall encouraging these attorneys to come together from multi practice groups and they can introduce different ways that they can help our clients. So it’s just keeping those lines of communication open and having that open door policy where attorneys can kind of go back and forth between each other’s office, whether that’s virtual or in person at one of our various locations. Just keeping the lines of communication open internally so everybody really is aware of what each practice does and how it can maybe help our clients down the line.

[00:07:29.090] – David Ackert

I think beyond even just open door policy, which almost suggests more of a passive organic approach, sometimes people don’t necessarily step through those open doors. It sounds like your BD team is really driving those conversations and that’s really key to efficacy from what we see.

[00:07:43.360] – Maggie Garden


[00:07:44.100] – David Ackert

So let’s talk about the other: operationalizing business development. How do we ensure that all of this talk actually results in action and that the BD team has some visibility on that?

[00:07:53.620] – Maggie Garden

Yeah, I think technology, it’s kind of funny, we were joking about this prior to the call about how technology is really great until it’s not. But I think there’s a number of different technology tools that we utilize to help us with these efforts. But one of the things I will say when it comes to technology is it’s not necessarily the platforms themselves. I think we’ve seen some of our greatest successes when we utilize these tools to their maximum benefits. And what I mean by that is we actually use analytics to connect the dots. So it’s not just about putting out great content or having the technology in order to do so, although that is important. I think it’s also seeing who’s reading the content, who’s watching the content, and using that information to make sure that we’re making business contacts and we’re building relationships prior to…So if we have a webinar, we can pull these analytics to see who attended the webinar, who submitted questions, and then that can follow up into additional phone calls, emails, or even sometimes additional content. So I think one of the biggest things that I’ve seen as of late with technology is just making sure you’re utilizing the full potential of that technology and then having the follow up afterwards.

[00:08:56.900] – David Ackert

Yeah, this notion of inbound marketing and lead generation are relatively new in the legal field, although they’ve been around in other industries for a long time. But it’s exciting when firms start to understand that engagement with the thought leadership is absolutely a marker for some sort of proactive outreach. And we’ve talked to some firms that are like, “oh well, yes, but we look at that data, we aren’t necessarily going to do anything with that data because we don’t want to be too forward.” And then other firms have a more progressive perspective where they say, “actually these are invitations for conversations and we act accordingly.”

[00:09:30.070] – Maggie Garden

Yeah, I would think if you’re attending a webinar, you have interest in the content, right? You have an interest in the topic. So I think following up with somebody who’s asked a question, I mean, they put it out there they have an interest and they have a need. And even if it’s as simple as picking up the phone afterwards and giving that person a call and opening up the lines of communication, people remember that. So I think the follow up is a really key point to seeing whether or not the technology platform is beneficial.

[00:09:54.730] – David Ackert

You are so right. And yet, getting lawyers to pick up that phone and make that call is easier said than done in many cases, right? And no matter what data you put in front of them and say, “but look, they actually asked a question, they attended this webinar, they’re interested in your subject matter, this is going to be a pretty easy opportunity to initiate contact,” there certainly are skeptics that will resist. I wonder, what philosophy do you share with them or try to help them kind of adopt in order to make these interactions a little bit more natural and perhaps a little more palatable?

[00:10:30.980] – Maggie Garden

Yeah, I think it really comes back to bringing humanity back to business. I think sometimes we overthink and put way too much thought on finding the perfect pitch, or the perfect plan, or the perfect email. When it comes to engaging a client or retaining an existing relationship, don’t get me wrong, I think a well executed plan has its place, certainly lends itself to successful outcomes. But I’ve always found success in building and maintaining relationships and it’s that component of humanity. Yes, we all have our various professions, right? Business development, lawyers, HR representatives, IT professionals. But we’re all human beings first. And I think sometimes that gets lost in the business world. And if you form that solid relationship with a client, it’s only going to be beneficial, right? So if you have those difficult conversations but you have the foundation there, it’s going to make those bumps in the road a little bit easier to get through and easier to navigate. For instance, I still remember the first client I ever brought in. I met her at a conference. It took me over a year before I ever saw the first referral. But I can tell you she was my client for 16 years after that, and she moved from company to company and everywhere she went, she gave me the business. And I still kept the business at her existing companies because I had relationships there. And I do have a client facing role in Shipman as well, I’m not just behind the scenes in business development. I’m not licensed to practice law. And I can’t always cite case law on a whim. But I can tell you where my clients kids are going to college in the fall, or the names of their pets, or their favorite football team. These things matter. Connections matter. And I’ve always approached business that people won’t always remember what you say, but they’re always going to remember how you make them feel. So if you can make a client feel engaged and important from the very beginning. That’s only going to help you in that long term relationship.

[00:12:13.370] – David Ackert

All of these are really wise words and I love the sentiment behind it. I’m just going to circle back to this and maybe put a little bit of a finer point on it because it sounds to me like that comes naturally to you. You’re good at making people feel a certain way, right? You have a warm demeanor. You totally understand this notion of bringing humanity back to business. You speak about it in such an articulate way. We’ve all worked with lawyers who just aren’t wired that way. They’re more technical in the way they think and the way they speak. And it’s very difficult to get them out of that mode and into this more kind of emotionally intelligent, EQ oriented way of being. I wonder how you’ve been successful in coaching those kinds of lawyers or working with them so that they can start to adopt some of the philosophy that you just shared with us.

[00:13:02.010] – Maggie Garden

Yeah, I would agree with you also to your point that you initially made is that not everybody is going to be comfortable in that environment, and I think it’s important to recognize that some people might be better at an email than they would be a phone call. You don’t want to force something on somebody that’s going to make them uncomfortable because it’s not going to be good for either side of the conversation. Whether it’s written, or whether it’s over the phone, you want to make sure that the person is comfortable. So what we try to do as a business development team is to kind of share them the benefits of networking, the benefits of building relationships. But you’re still going to have those people that are like, “you know what, I’m really good at the law and I’m going to focus on the law.” So we just make sure that within our various practice groups, we do have attorneys that want to go to the networking events, that want to pick up the phone call. That are really good in that client forward facing role, and we have them involved in webinars and podcasts and doing that type of thing or going to the events and saying hello. And for the people that are a little bit more comfortable with being behind the scenes, or comfortable with electronic communication, we make sure to work with them on what they’re comfortable with and at building their success in a way that they’re comfortable. Because it’s not going to go well if you’re not doing something that you’re comfortable with. So we just try to pull their strengths based on what’s best for them and we go from there.

[00:14:11.520] – David Ackert

Sounds like you take a very inclusive approach and you meet people where they are.

[00:14:15.520] – Maggie Garden

It’s important, I think, in order to be successful. Authenticity, you know?

[00:14:19.010] – David Ackert

Way to bring humanity back to business Maggie

[00:14:21.350] – Maggie Garden

Haha, exactly.

[00:14:22.930] – David Ackert

So I’m just curious, you’re three months into this job, what’s that been like, what’s that transition been like? And have there been any challenges inherent to the process for you?

[00:14:31.840] – Maggie Garden

Yeah, I mean I came from a much smaller size firm. And yeah, there was a little bit of an intimidation factor when I came here. I was super excited to start, but a few weeks in I kind of had this little bit of a panic mode where I was like, “I don’t know what I’m doing, I don’t know all the practice areas, I don’t know all the people.” And that caused a little bit of anxiety for me and I just kind of took a moment and took a breath and I realized 16 years ago when I started the other job, I didn’t know the people and didn’t know the practice either. And there was a time where I really feared making mistakes. And I think mistakes certainly are something I strive to do on a regular basis now. It doesn’t intimidate me anymore. I think I’ve come to realize that mistakes and air quotes “failure” is where there’s like a huge opportunity for growth and these are the things that can push you past your comfort zone and some pretty incredible things can happen from them. You can learn and you can grow in ways that you wouldn’t if you stayed in that comfort zone.  So I kind of leaned into that anxiety, if you will, or that unknown. And I’m not calling any of my mistakes missteps, I’m calling it a Cha Cha. That’s been my new motto, is, a Cha Cha. And I’m growing and I’m learning and I’m in a place where I feel really safe to do that because I have people around me that are supporting me and helping me through the process. So I would say lean into the discomfort and realize that you’re going to grow and really great things are going to come out of it. So I’m not living by fear and I’m living by learning and by growing, and I’m feeling pretty good about it.

[00:15:52.660] – David Ackert

Embrace the Cha Cha.

[00:15:54.470] – Maggie Garden

Embrace the Cha Cha.

[00:15:55.810] – David Ackert

So that’s really good advice, frankly, for someone who’s been in a role for decades or someone who’s just coming into a role. I’ve been running this company for over 20 years and I have the Cha Cha, and the Foxtrot, and nine other steps and missteps that I make every day. So I appreciate that counterintuitive perspective that you bring in terms of just really leaning into that anxiety and recognizing that there’s going to be a silver lining if you just stick through it.

[00:16:22.190] – Maggie Garden

Absolutely. You know we’re all, and like I said, it comes back to that humanity piece, we’re all humans first, right? We’re all going to have that time where we’re uncomfortable or wherever it is that we’re coming from, just stick with the path and know you’re going to be better for it.

[00:16:34.400] – David Ackert

Yeah, that’s right. I want to end with a question, and maybe it’s just building on what you shared, but as you know, there’s been a lot of movement in our industry. A lot of people are switching jobs, there’s been a lot of poaching, a lot of recruiting, both on the lawyer side, but on the legal marketer side as well. What recommendation would you have for someone who is landing in a new role, especially a new leadership role at a firm? What should they be thinking about within the first 90 days or so to set themselves up for success?

[00:17:00.360] – Maggie Garden

Yeah, it’s really interesting that you ask that question because when I was interviewing with Shipman, I had the same one. Like, what would your advice be if I landed at Shipman and if I took this job? Because I think with the Great Resignation then it was the Great Reshuffle, I don’t even know what they’re calling it now, but there’s still that flux out there. And I’ll never forget one of the managing partners said to me, “I don’t expect you to bring in a million dollars worth of business in your first six months or even your first year. I expect you to come and get to know everybody, get to know the people, get to know the practice areas.” And again, it got me thinking, like, right, get to know the humans, what makes them tick, not just professionally, but personally. So build your team, build your relationships, and foster those things and grow that way. So that would be my advice because I think it’s been very successful. I feel like I’ve landed very softly here and very comfortably here by immediately seeking out inter-office relationships with everybody at the firm, from the very top managing partner, but also to the individuals that help me out on IT to the wonderful team that I have, just to build those relationships and learn about the people that you’re working with and learn about what makes them grow personally and professionally, and it’s all going to be fine from there.

[00:18:09.980] – David Ackert

So that’s really two tips. The first tip, if you are transitioning into a leadership role at a new firm, is: be prepared during the interview to answer the question, “what are you going to do in the first 90 days?” And the second tip is: to build internal relationships so that you have a strong foundation for long term success.

[00:18:27.620] – Maggie Garden

Absolutely. Relationships, I feel like it always comes back to that, whether it’s your client relationships, your inter-office relationships, or even the relationship you have with yourself. But I think that’s a really good place to put focus when you’re joining a new place.

[00:18:39.100] – David Ackert

Yeah. Well, we so appreciate you sharing your thoughts with us Maggie, it’s been an absolute pleasure, and I wish you continued success at Shipman and really appreciate you being on the podcast today.

[00:18:48.810] – Maggie Garden

Thanks, David. I’m a huge fan of the podcast series, so, I was so happy to be here and thank you so much for having me.

[00:18:53.880] – Outro

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