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Like many of her counterparts, Gray Cary Ware & Freidenrich marketing director Lynn Kirk’s entre� into the world of law firm marketing was anything but choreographed. After graduating from the University of Southern California in 1990, Kirk figured she’d move to San Francisco and find work as a paralegal, paving the way for law school. A friend had an uncle who worked at San Francisco’s Pillsbury Madison & Sutro, and that uncle — named T. Neal McNamara — suggested Kirk send a cover letter to the firm’s human resources department mentioning his name. Kirk did as suggested and, lo and behold, she got an interview. She laughingly says she had no idea at the time the friend’s uncle was chairman of the firm. Pillsbury was in the midst of a hiring freeze on paralegals, but the firm did offer her a position in marketing. Kirk envisioned working in the marketing department for a month before transferring to paralegal work. That month turned into almost six years, and in December 1995, she left Pillsbury for the Silicon Valley office of San Diego-based Gray Cary. “I really like the integration of the legal aspect with business,” says Kirk on why she has stayed in the field for a decade longer than originally intended. “We’re run like a business, and I’m able to do marketplace positioning and at the same time work with some really smart people who are changing the face of law.” Kirk says she and her staff of eight “focus a considerable amount of time on initiatives that integrate technology: extranets, Web-based employment tutorials, online seminars, the Web site. Anything that feels tech, we do.” All of Kirk’s efforts are directed toward one goal — differentiating Gray Cary from the flood of firms that have come to Silicon Valley to feed on its wealth. According to Margaret Kavalaris, Gray Cary’s partner in charge of marketing, Kirk could not be doing a more stellar job. “The really effective thing about her,” Kavalaris says, “is how utterly strategic she is. She can read an income and cash-flow statement and analyze accounting data; she just lives for strategy and is extremely competitive. She thinks like a partner or an executive director.” Kavalaris cites Kirk’s work in supplanting Palo Alto, Calif.-based Cooley Godward as a headline sponsor of Red Herring’s Venture 2000 event. “Law firms had been lined up to get that event,” she recalls, “and through relationship-building and tenacious hard work, Lynn got it for us. “She has probably single-handedly done more to improve our brand than any other administrative person at the firm,” Kavalaris adds. The enthusiastic Kirk admits she might feel out of place at a stodgier firm; at Gray Cary, though, her ideas — no matter how far in left field they may seem — are given their due. A recent brainstorm of Kirk’s resulted in an “acid green and turbo orange” pattern on attorneys’ business cards. Although Gray Cary’s stable of tech clients responded favorably to the jazzed-up design, Kirk did hear from some of the firm’s litigators who wanted their plain white cards back. “Some of the more conservative elements of the firm thought marketing had lost its mind,” chuckles Kavalaris, “but [Kirk's] well liked even by those lawyers. She’s definitely an agitator, though.” As happy as Kirk is at Gray Cary, she acknowledges that she is thinking about her next gig. “Being VP of business development at a dot-com — that may come one day,” she admits. “But I’m confident in the growth of the firm, and I just don’t want to miss it.” Kavalaris hopes Kirk stays as long as Gray Cary offers up enough challenges for her. “I have encouraged her to always go to the next level,” she says, “and if there is a better position for her, I would force her to go. She’s too big a talent, and the minute we get boring, she’ll be gone.”

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