Furia Rubel’s philosophy of leading by example has paid dividends for the esteemed strategic marketing and PR agency as well as for an always-growing array of law firm clients, most of them in the vast mid-sized market. Jennifer Simpson Carr spent most of her career in-house at law firms before joining Furia Rubel at the start of 2020 as its director of business development. Carr says the women-owned agency’s ongoing success is rooted in a holistic approach to client service along with a strong internal culture deeply committed to diversity. Carr embodies the agency’s spirit of continuous professional improvement, serving as the producer of its award-winning “On Record PR” podcast and completing an executive education program at Columbia University during the pandemic.
Lawdragon: Can you describe for our readers the types of services Furia Rubel provides?
Jennifer Simpson Carr: Furia Rubel is a full-service agency that supports legal industry clients including law firms, legal technology and alternative dispute resolution providers, industry associations, and public interest agencies. We provide strategic communications planning, public relations, crisis planning and management, marketing, business development support, content marketing, reputation management and social media services. With more than 20 years in business, Furia Rubel was the first niche legal public relations agency in Pennsylvania and remains one of only a handful of legal marketing agencies owned and operated by a licensed attorney and woman. Clients tell us they appreciate our legal and ethics expertise as they feel an added level of efficiency and protection, especially when dealing with legal issues, compliance issues, regulated industries and high-risk businesses.
Most of our legal industry clients are mid-sized law firms. The agency’s focus is to support clients in achieving their business objectives, including revenue goals and recruitment. That is why our strategic plans and ongoing support are grounded in data. Clients tell us they appreciate our commitment to determine meaningful and measurable tactics and how we collaborate with their in-house teams to implement plans that deliver results. In-house marketing teams also appreciate using these metrics to demonstrate value to their attorneys and other stake holders within their firms.
Our team understands the day-to-day pressures and issues that attorneys and business professionals face. We understand that part of our job is to make our clients’ business lives easier and to provide support and resources that they don’t otherwise have in-house.
LD: What are some aspects about this work that you find professionally satisfying?
JSC: There are many things I find professionally satisfying about working in legal marketing strategy. It is exciting to be part of a women-owned certified organization that values the individuals as much as the team. We combine our passions, interests and expertise on client teams to leverage each other’s strengths and bring the best we can to our work.
I appreciate the diversity of our legal marketing community and the clients our agency serves. We support clients across the U.S. and in the Caribbean and work with law firms and companies with offices globally. We also work with lawyers and professionals with vast and different backgrounds that represent five generations and myriad practice areas and industries.
We also are faced with new challenges regularly. For instance, like everyone, we had to learn to pivot and provide expert communications support for all of our clients during the pandemic and times of civil unrest – learning about new regulations, issues and obstacles along the way – while facing the same challenges as many of our clients did during the first global pandemic in modern history.
Another thing I really love is that our agency culture is to lead by example. That means that if we are recommending that a client adopt new technologies or try new tactics, we will have tested them on our agency first. An example of this is our award-winning podcast, “On Record PR,” for which I serve as the producer and a guest host. We know that podcasts work to support a law firm’s public relations, business development and recruiting efforts – that’s because we do it ourselves. We approached it with a strategic plan and measurable objectives. Now, entering our third year of podcasting, working on it is something I get to deeply enjoy.
LD: Are there any trends you are seeing in your area of consulting?
JSC: One of the trends that I expect to drive significant change within the legal services space is the industry’s shift toward desegmentation; taking an approach toward a more collaborative ecosystem. I believe you can ask professionals at any law firm, in any department, and one of the most common hurdles for success that they would cite is teams working in “silos.” The trend toward fostering a firm culture in which all departments, positions and executives – including practice and industry groups – come together to engage in open dialogue about challenges and opportunities can facilitate conversations that drive greater efficiency, innovation, client-service and value. Such efforts will be industry-changing as more and more law firms adapt to an integrated approach.
LD: Can you tell us more about the podcast?
JSC: We launched On Record PR in March 2020, just as we began to feel the initial impact of the global pandemic. Our hosts go on record with industry leaders – such as private practice attorneys and in-house counsel, legal business professionals, C-suite executives, journalists, the occasional athlete and other experts – to discuss topics that impact our listeners both professionally and personally and that help support business success.
Our primary listener base is comprised of mid-market law firms, corporate in-house counsel, professional services organizations and individuals interested in legal and legaltech issues, especially legal innovation. We focus on the issues that affect the industry, including internal and external communications, crisis communications, DE&I [Diversity, Equity and Inclusion], ESG [Environmental, Social, Governance] and strategy. As of October 2021, we have released more than 85 episodes and have listeners in 22 countries. As we enter our third season, I am honored that the podcast has been recognized for three awards in the areas of corporate communications, public relations, and diversity, equity & inclusion.
Through the podcasting process, I have had the opportunity to foster relationships with incredible individuals and organizations which has allowed me to expand my and the agency’s professional network.
On a personal note, podcasting has expanded my knowledge, interests and network in a unique way that I would not have imagined.
LD: Please talk about your educational background that brought you to this point.
JSC: I enjoy learning and have committed to continuing my studies in areas where I can grow professionally, add value to our team, and that will best serve clients.
I received my bachelor’s degree in communication studies from East Stroudsburg University, where I was captain of the women’s basketball team. I then earned a graduate certificate of marketing from the University of Texas at Dallas and a mini-MBA in digital marketing from Rutgers Business School.
During the pandemic, I completed an Executive Education Program in Driving Strategic Impact at Columbia Business School. I am especially proud of my work at Columbia, which focused on the fundamental skill of consulting and structured problem-solving to ensure effectiveness and efficiency for clients. Alongside professionals from around the world, I refined my competencies to support the agency’s clients by leading strategy projects for maximum return, developing high-impact solutions and recommendations, and optimizing collaboration among diverse teams.
LD: What advice do you have now for current students or young professionals who wish to have a similar type of career?
JSC: Very early in my career, I thought that executing a project well was the best way to demonstrate value and earn others’ trust. I learned very quickly that to demonstrate value and earn trust as a business strategist and thought leader, I had to possess a comprehensive understanding of the clients’ businesses. In legal marketing strategy, this means understanding a law firm’s or practice/industry group’s business goals (both internally and externally), providing sound guidance, crafting practical solutions and using data to support our recommendations. It also means arming lawyers with the important tools they need to be empowered thought leaders.
I found this to be true while working in-house at several Am Law 200 firms for more than 10 years as well as now serving clients of Furia Rubel.
LD: Was there an early experience or mentor who really helped shape the course of your professional life?
JSK: I believe that the person we are today is comprised of bits and pieces of the people we have met along the way in addition to our life experiences. There are too many people and experiences that have helped shape me to cite them all.
As the daughter of an Olympic silver-medalist and with my mother’s network of trailblazing athletes as role models, I grew up honing the skills that athletes most value: teamwork, perseverance, taking personal responsibility, leadership, confidence, a positive outlook when faced with adversity, performing under pressure and embracing people from all backgrounds and experiences. These skills have served me well in my life and my career in legal marketing. I am fortunate for the opportunity to interview athletes on our podcast to discuss how many of these transferable skills can help individuals achieve professional and personal success, and how some athletes have gone on to highly successful careers in the legal industry and the business world.
While there are not obvious synergies between sports and law, I credit who I am today to the opportunities I have been given in sports and throughout my career in legal marketing: my teammates and colleagues who work together to achieve common goals, my coaches and mentors who push me, the opponents and adversities that challenge me, and the fans, family and friends who support me.
LD: How has your job changed since earlier in your career?
JSC: Law firms and their business teams continue to be more sophisticated in their business development, public relations and marketing communications. In part, firms have taken a more proactive approach to these efforts including crisis planning. I see more law firms planning for crisis matters for their law firms and their clients alike.
Especially in this world of digital media and instant news, savvy law firms understand that it takes years to build a reputation and only a moment to destroy it. I also see law firms approaching crises, such as the pandemic, from the perspective of opportunity to learn, advance and assess client service.
LD: How would you describe your style or philosophy as a professional service provider? What characteristics does it take to thrive in your area?
JSC: My style, and that of our agency is open, honest and collaborative. We are constantly discussing overall business goals and objectives with our clients and then tying opportunities to meet those business objectives. I believe it is important to emulate open, honest and collaborative communications with our clients as well.
We are a flexible team. In legal, much like there are no “typical law firms,” there is no typical way to work with law firms. For example, we have some clients where the CMO or CBDO is our primary liaison and other clients where we communicate directly with the attorneys. In either case, I enjoy that we are an extension of the in-house teams and executive committees.
Providing holistic professional services requires that we comprehensively assess a client’s objectives and whether those goals align with the bigger picture. In many cases, one of the most important steps to take with our clients is ensuring that the team includes a broad spectrum of viewpoints and experiences, rather than cultivating an echo chamber in which effecting change can seem impossible.
At Furia Rubel, we also practice what we preach. We know that diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives and fostering a sense of belonging are imperative to the overall success of any business. Diverse teams are more successful than teams comprised of individuals who have similar backgrounds. Just like our agency, I am deeply committed to and will continue to purposefully discuss and deepen my knowledge, understanding and commitment to equity, diversity, inclusion and antiracism. Collectively, we strive every day to do better and to be better at our DE&I efforts to foster an authentic sense of belonging for all.