Creating Success One Person at a Time
By Dawn Robinette, APR | Photography by Suzanne Pack
The familiar refrain that San Antonio is the biggest small town is spot-on when you chat with Jenny Marshall, partner and co-owner of Preferred Counsel Legal Placement Services. You’ve barely said hello before the native San Antonian with a bright smile quickly finds common connections.
“San Antonio? It’s special. We have a small community, especially in the legal field,” she explains. With her beaming smile and outgoing personality, it’s easy to see why she is great at connecting.
“Networking is my favorite thing! The opportunity to meet new people excites me. That could be social networking, that could be event networking, that could be anything. What I think is important is to always have a smile and always think about something that can make yourself relatable to the person you’re talking to,” she explains as tips for networking success. “Being relatable sets you up for being memorable. Then when something comes up, they think of you. People call me all the time, and if I’m not able to help, I’m able to pass them on to the right person. That opens it up for other opportunities.”
And opportunities are what she fills at Preferred Counsel Legal Placement Services. “I’m essentially a realtor of people. Companies and law firms hire me to find staff or lawyers for their business. It could be temporary, a contract position or full-time. Most of our work is full-time opportunities. We work with big corporations, we work with small solo firms, international law firms, people that have offices in San Antonio and around the world.”
Much of her work is focused on administrative positions in San Antonio. “Secretarial, paralegal, legal secretary, firm administrator, office manager – anything that falls on the administrative side,” she explains, her face lighting up as she describes the process of matching the right candidate to a position.
“I get the opportunity to change people’s lives. I’ve had the chance to help college graduates get their first job out of college, mentor them and help them grow. I’ve been doing this for ten years now, so I’ve had the opportunity to mentor a few candidates who were once a paralegal, then moved into HR, and now they’re the firm administrator for a large law firm. I’ve had the opportunity to change their life in the ways of not just career growth but monetarily. Opportunities where you’ve got a person who goes to work for a private law firm, doubling their salary – changing their life in the sense of growth and getting out of the bubble and being able to work on small transitions to make a big impact in their long term goals.”
“That’s why I say I’m a realtor of people. When you buy your first home, you invest that equity into your home, and then in five years, you move on to a bigger home. It’s a very similar transition with your career. There are people that go to one place, and they stay their entire career – and that’s wonderful. They move up within the ranks. But these days, our careers are different. Some people are getting a better opportunity by making a move.”
She notes that the pandemic shifted the job market. “A very big trend since COVID is the option to work remotely, or the option to go in three days a week and work two days remotely. It is a candidate’s market right now – or in real estate terms, it’s a seller’s market – because there’s low inventory. We have a low inventory of people right now.”
She also sees a shift in the typically male-dominated legal world. “I think it’s important that women, job candidates and clients really understand that we’re in a season of change. It’s something I’m really passionate about. There are more women graduating from law school. There are more women moving up in the ranks of partnerships. There are more women really leveling the playing field for management positions and attorney positions. It is not male-dominated anymore. Companies are setting standards where there must be a woman on the team, or there has to be a woman who is trying the case. Women are seen as equals,” she explains.
“But women are still paid less for the work that they do. But we’re heading in the right direction. I do everything in my power to work on those transitions and help set these women up for success long term and mentor them to get that next right job. That’s important to me.”
Listening to Marshall talk about the market and the challenge of finding the right fit for the right position, it’s clear that she absolutely loves putting people together.
“I’ve met people that at one point were paralegals and they said, ‘Hey, I’m going to go to law school,’ And I’m like, absolutely, if you need to work during law school, you can take the night program at St. Mary’s. And now they are lawyers at the same firm where they were they were paralegals. The opportunity to see that person grow and to see that person change their life – that inspires me, and that makes me tick.
“That’s what gets me excited – the opportunity for people to reach their fullest potential. That really makes me very happy. And it inspires me to do better. And do more.”
Doing more includes using her skills in recruiting, interviewing, and public speaking to help professionals and young women learn the importance of carrying yourself with confidence. As a former Miss Helotes and a Miss Fiesta Princess, she was Miss Greater Helotes in the Miss Texas USA Pageant. She now uses her skills to help the contestants of the Miss Helotes Scholarship Pageant. She credits her time in pageants with starting her on the path to where she is now.
“The women are cheerleaders for each other. If you needed something, they would be happy to give it to you. The mentorship I received through pageants was something that really shaped my life. I want to help other women, and to have the opportunity to help people, creating that sense that you are worth it. If you work hard and you keep working at it, you will get there. That is what pageants taught me.”
With three children ages 8, 5, and 3, Marshall juggles work with family commitments along with her high school sweetheart-turned-husband, Cody. “I’m afforded the awesome opportunity to co-own my company with someone who also has three kids and understands that work/life balance is important – being able to go to my son’s swim meet or to be at a baseball game is important. Sticking to a schedule is important, too, and it’s something I think I do well. Everything, and I do mean everything – is calendared because if it’s not, I’m going to miss something. So prioritizing things when I get to the office and prioritizing tasks is really important for me, and that’s how I kind of manage my work and my personal life.”
Marshall makes time for herself to help keep her positive outlook going. “I work out four to five times during the week, kickboxing or cycling, or I just go to the gym, and they have all these awesome classes that I love. Taking an hour out of my day to do that really does set me up for success for the rest of the day.”
She also believes in starting everything with a positive mindset. “It’s important to me. I try to see the positive in anything that happens in our business because there’s always an option to relationship build. If I meet a candidate and they don’t get the job, I’m able to think about them for another position that might come up in three to six months or in a year and say, ‘This is the perfect position for you.’ We have to see the positive. There’s always another opportunity around the corner.”
“I think if you work hard, you will be given opportunities to make good decisions. And those good decisions will reflect positive outcomes in your life. And if you set a goal and you work really hard for that goal, you can achieve that. You will get to where you need or want to be.
“And always wear a smile, because you never know how that smile can change someone’s day.”