The Astute Associate: How to Become a Thought Leader in Your Practice Area

Featuring tips from Karen Conti, Rachel Gartner, Kenny Matuszewski, and Jack Sanker

Karen Conti headshot.jpgThe YLS L.E.A.D. Committee will host a program on Monday, October 21 to give young lawyers insight about increasing their visibility and credibility in the legal community. “The Astute Associate: How to Become a Thought Leader in Your Practice Area” will feature Karen Conti of Conti Law, who, for over 23 years, has been a part of the local and national media, including regular appearances as a legal commentator on CNN, Fox Chicago, MSNBC, Fox News, The O’Reilly Factor, truTV and more. She has hosted and produced radio talk shows including “Chicago Law” on WJJD, “Legally Speaking” on WGN Radio in Chicago and currently hosts “The Karen Conti Show” on WGN Radio. Karen will share how she has developed a reputation as an active, involved lawyer, and has enjoyed stretching her skill set to areas outside of her comfort zone.

She will be joined by a panel of young lawyers, including Rachel Gartner of Loeb & Loeb; Kenny Matuszewski, Patent Attorney; and Jack Sanker of SmithAmundsen, who will share how they are making names for themselves in the legal community by posting on social media, blogging, podcasting, and involving themselves in the community.

A preview of the advice you may hear from the speakers includes:

Karen: My general rule is: “Never say no.”  Whether it is being asked to handle a high-profile death penalty case; to appear on radio and television; to host my own radio show; to teach law school classes; to write a column in the Law Bulletin; and to speak at events, I have rarely said no.  This has allowed me not only to develop a reputation as an active and involved lawyer but to also stretch my skillset and go outside my comfort zone!

Rachel: Like anything else, if you want something bad enough, you will find the time to make it happen. Putting in the time to stay on top of what’s going on in your industry is a small sacrifice that has the potential to provide huge benefits for your career.

Kenny: Never underestimate the power of your writing. As a first-year attorney, I wrote a few articles about eSports and intellectual property for IPWatchdog and the Illinois State Bar Association. I figured it would be a good use of my time, and that starting early would promote good habits. Later that year, Law360 reached out to me specifically and wanted to hear my opinion on recent developments in eSports. I was shocked, first by the fact that they were asking for advice from a first-year Associate, and second, that my writing was being noticed. As I later found out, my work has been cited in several law firms’ blogs over the years, and even at one of Marquette’s Sports Law Conferences. This allowed me to start giving presentations about the IP issues in eSports, and even the artistic merit of video games. I never would have thought that people would find so much benefit from my writing so early on in my career, especially in a niche topic. It only speaks the truth of Wally Lamb’s words: “If the book is true, it will find an audience that is meant to read it.”

Jack: Trust in your education and abilities, especially when it comes to areas of law you are unfamiliar with. More specifically, trust that you have been trained on how to learn and how to teach yourself new things.

My practice has grown from Plaintiff’s personal injury to property insurance subrogation, to commercial litigation, insurance defense, workers’ compensation, and even coverage work. I’ve had plenty of guidance and mentorship through the years, but in my experience, most lawyers are largely self-taught. By the time you’ve graduated law school, passed the bar, and found a job, the one thing you should be most confident in is your ability to teach yourself and learn what you need to know to accomplish a given task.

The best part about the law is that it’s all written down somewhere. That means, no matter what, you can find and read whatever you need, so long as you take the time to do the research.

Join the L.E.A.D. Committee to hear more great insights from our speakers on Monday, October 21 at the law firm of K&L Gates, 70 W. Madison, Suite 3300 at 12:15 PM. Complimentary lunch will be served, and IL MCLE credit is available for CBA members.

Click here to RSVP for a lunch count and security purposes


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