When Shelly Leeke decided to make the move from New Orleans to Charleston, it was a smooth transition. If New Orleans had a beloved older sister, we like to think Charleston might fit the role. Leeke calls both cities her two favorites. Charleston is also her hometown.
Best of both worlds.
After graduating from Tulane University Law in 2002, she began her career with the Supreme Court in New Orleans. She quickly found her home on the other side in plaintiff work. When she made the move and decided to start her own firm in 2008, she set out with a vision and a plan. She knew exactly what she wanted, and that she was going to need some help to make it happen.
Shortly after, she ran into a friend at a conference in Las Vegas and he recommended that she reach out to Eric Morgan of Morgan & Co. As the universe would have it, Morgan was already planning to be in nearby Columbia, South Carolina. So Leeke hopped in her car and drove out to meet him. Leeke shared her vision with him, along with her scrappy budget at the time, and Morgan laid out the blueprint. In 2012, Leeke hired her first associate.
Four years later, Shelly Leeke Law Firm has grown to nearly 63 employees with 17 practicing attorneys.
But as Leeke points out, every overnight success is ten years in the making. She took us through her journey beginning her law career in New Orleans, growing up in Charleston, and juggling law, business ownership, and motherhood.
And it must be mentioned that she somehow manages to fit in six workouts a week.
We call that #Goals.
What do you love about the work you do?
It gives me an opportunity to help other people who are often in the hardest times of their lives after an accident. I like that we are reaching a lot of individuals in our community who have been hurt, and sometimes seriously hurt. And I like to see people become whole again. It’s much more fulfilling to me.
What are the challenges your industry faces right now?
In Charleston, our market is growing so much with lawyers entering the industry every year. Making sure that we have good lawyers is always a concern. The more degrees that are earned, the harder it is to find really good lawyers to serve clients.
How do you filter through to find the good lawyers with so many lawyers entering the market?
I think it’s hard for the general public to decipher. I think most people are not specifically educated on how to find a good lawyer. We wrote a book on how to navigate it, how to interview lawyers, what questions to ask, and what to keep in mind when searching for a lawyer.
What has your experience been like working with Morgan & Co?
One thing that stands out to me about Morgan & Co is that Eric actually sat down with me and I was able to give him my vision and what success looked like and how long it would take. He was able to incorporate what I wanted into a plan of action and a roadmap so that I could see it. Other advertising agencies had all said the same thing, which was you have to throw in a lot of money and have faith that it will work. And that wasn’t enough to give me confidence. But Eric took the time to actually work with me and plan it all out. He stands by his word.
How long have you worked with Morgan & Co?
Since July of 2013. Right at four years. I was super excited to meet with him. We had a small budget, but we made it work. Since we started working with Morgan & Co, our gross revenue has grown by 12 times. I can’t say enough good things about them. Their entire team has been very responsive and a pleasure to do business with. We work with them on digital advertising as well.
Do you anticipate major changes in your field?
The way that people are receiving information is constantly evolving, and we have to know the best way to reach them. The biggest medium in which we currently reach people is through TV.
What’s it like to be a practicing attorney and a business owner?
It’s definitely not easy. You have to wear two different hats. But I love the business side of my practice. That’s my favorite part, other than watching interactions with clients. Leaving one case and going to another obviously takes a lot of staff. It’s challenging but I enjoy it.
Can you give me a snapshot of what a typical day is like for you?
I get into the office and have a couple of meetings with my management team, and I try to divide my week into the law side and the business side. I typically set aside an hour or so a day to do client management. I spend a lot of time making sure our intake department is running smoothly, and potential clients hear a happy voice on the other end of the line when they call.
Do you have any workout regimens that you love?
I usually go to a HIT class, tennis, and I like to run, definitely in the mornings. I usually do about 6 times a week.
Six times?! You are killing it! I need to do better.
Well, I have a five month old. I have two boys, a 5 year-old and a 5-month old. The five year old is tough.
I thought it would be the other way around, that the 5 month old would be tough.
I would have thought so too, until he turned three. (laughs)
What advice would you give to someone just beginning their career in law?
Don’t listen to people who tell you that your vision isn’t possible. You have to put in the time, a lot of hard work, and perseverance. It’s worth it in the end. But it does take time.
2017 marks Morgan & Co.’s 20th anniversary as an advertising agency in New Orleans. In celebration of this occasion, we sat down with our clients, friends and colleagues to get their perspective on how advertising has changed within their industry over the years.