The market is ripe for law firms to up their marketing game.
Smaller firms, bigger firms, and global giants are all bringing on new marketing leaders. In the last 6 (or so) months alone, we’ve seen many notable changes in leadership:
- Baker McKenzie adds long-time pro Wendy Bernero to head client development
- Hogan Lovells welcomes deeply experienced David McClune from Shearman & Sterling
- White and Williams promotes Andrea Malone to CMO
- Klehr Harrison Harvey Branzburg brings on Holly Lentz Kleeman as CBDO
- Stroock adds Trish Lilley, a well-respected, experienced veteran
- Hodgson Russ hires Carrie Ryder who has both big firm (think Morgan Lewis) and smaller firm experience
- Paul Weiss brings back alumnus Luke Ferrandino as their CMO
- Drinker Biddle hires Kristin Coda, a long-experienced CMO
- Akerman brings on P. Jeanne Brown, a veteran CMO
- Steptoe & Johnson hires Wendy Taylor, a long-tenured law firm CMO
- Nelson Mullins adds Beth Huffman with an impressive resume in law firm marketing
- Kean Miller brings on law firm marketing pro Carolee Swallie as CMBDO
This flurry of top-level turmoil can be credited to retirements, a drive for law firms to build more marketing muscle, people leaving for new opportunities, law firms setting new strategic directions, and a host of other factors.
Think for a minute. Almost ½ of law firm CMOs are on the road to burn out. Only 20% see themselves as trusted advisors to their firms and only 45% rate their jobs an 8 of 10 or higher. In short, a lot of talent is open to greener pastures.
So… How can law firms use this to their advantage?
Love the One You’re With: Double Down on Your Marketing Leadership
Up your support, listen more, listen better, and an occasional extra thank you never hurts. Include your CMO as a central figure in the firm’s strategic direction. Take the time to review the firm’s strategic vision, marketing & business development plans, and client-facing philosophies. Ask them for new ideas and thoughts about how to up the marketing and business development game—and give them the support to see their initiatives through.
Find Your True Love: Find the Best Performers Looking for More
When a potential new CMO walks through your door, tell them a compelling story—the firm’s vision and how you see marketing and business development playing a central role. Sharing your marketing and BD philosophy right away will tell you more about each other than any other conversation you have. Make sure everyone who meets your candidate can tell the story. Revisit priorities, even briefly, to be sure everyone in leadership is in sync with the role of marketing and business development. This shows your candidate they can make an impact, be respected, implement new programs, and see their contribution to the firm’s success.
And, your candidate knows you already. They’ve checked your firm out in Chambers, BTI reports, and talked with folks who have worked for you—they want to know your vision and how this role fits in, not about the firm’s history.
It should go without saying but treat your candidate well. Think of candidate service as a proxy for exactly what it will be like to work at the firm. CMOs tell me stories of firm management being late to interviews, partners taking phone calls during interviews, and no one ever saying thanks for coming in—even when the candidate travels from out of town.
To attract the best-in-class CMOs, offer a market-based salary. High performers believe their current pay plus a percent doesn’t speak to commitment or value—it speaks to offering enough to make a move. CMOs have a good sense of what the market will support. And, the top performers view themselves as being at the top of the market.
More than a few law firms are still on the hunt for a marketing leader. The candidate pool is strong. Look for more offers, more moves, and law firms with strong leaders making sure theirs don’t go.