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The Legal Marketing Association had fewer than 1,000 members. American legal system would be accessible to everyone-not just those with the means and influence to procure the best available legal services.
WEEKLY RECRUITER SPEAK 1. 800. 973.1177 The Law Firm Marketing Director: Breaking New Ground? [by Cary J. Griffith] Two-and-a-half years ago the Legal Marketing Association had fewer than 1,000 members. Today, it has more than 2,400. Founded in 1985, the organiza- tion has experienced growth that has mirrored the growth of the acceptance of marketing by America’s law ﬁrms. Twenty years ago, most lawyers believed plays within the legal industry.” firms. Most MarComm people have one solid their work was somehow different from the line boss or perhaps a marketing commit- rest of American business. The same tools, Roles of Early Legal Marketers tee made up of a few select partners. But activities, and practices that characterized The first wave of early legal marketing usu- because large law firms are comprised of the competitive marketplace didn’t apply to ally involved the tepid process of getting the multiple partners, the Director of Marketing law firms or the practice of law. Today, that firm’s feet wet. Often the professionals who is also likely to have a dotted-line reporting perspective has been turned upside down, were given the job of attending to the firm’s relationship to every partner in the firm. Hav- paving the way for a revolution in the adver- marketing efforts were legal assistants. Ac- ing to answer to that many bosses, each with tising, sale, and promotion of legal services. cording to Greg Wolsky, Chief Marketing Offi- his or her own strong opinion about what a cer for the 176-attorney law firm of Lindquist marketing professional should be doing for A Brief History of the Marketing of Legal and Vennum, “the first wave of marketing the firm, created-and still creates-massive Services directors were often paralegals in law firms headaches for the profession. In 1978, the U.S. Supreme Court decided law- that knew the law firm and were tasked with yers had a right to advertise their services making up brochures, coordinating events, According to Larry Bodine, a law firm stra- using television, radio, and newspapers. The and attending to similar matters.” tegic-marketing consultant based in Glen decision sought to ensure that America’s le- Ellyn, IL, “Up to now, law firm marketing has gal system would be accessible to everyone- As more firms began to consider the role of involved seven different duties: brochures, not just those with the means and influence marketing, more true marketing profession- newsletters, seminars, press releases, to procure the best available legal services. als began to get involved. Gradually, experi- advertising, direct mail, and websites.” The Court believed competition among law enced, educated marketers were brought in Bodine describes the concern with managing firms would ultimately result in better ser- from the outside as Directors of Marketing, and producing these marketing tools as the vice and lower cost. Marketing Managers, Marketing Officers, or primary responsibility of MarComm profes- under any one of a variety of other titles. sionals. “But,” he’s quick to point out, “since True to the legal profession’s characteristic 2001, everything changed when the first law slow progress to adopt new ways of doing Part of the flux in responsibilities for law firm hired a sales director.” business, it took another seven years before firm marketing professionals was reflected the founding of a fledgling organization in what law firms chose to call these new Recent Growth and Changes designed to assist lawyers with marketing. positions. One marketing professional re- From 1985 to the start of the new millen- The Legal Marketing Association (LMA) was members being given the title of Director of nium, the effort to convince the legal profes- established as a forum for law firm partners, Communications because the firm was sensi- sion of the importance of marketing has been marketing professionals, consultants, and tive about using the term marketing. These stubborn and slow. But since 2001, the idea vendors who supported legal services mar- higher-level non-attorney professionals often of marketing has gained plenty of traction keting. Currently, its primary purpose is to “came from marketing, finance, insurance, and is beginning to expand. “I think it’s safe provide its members with a network through or from other professional services with to say that this is the best time for legal mar- which it can share ideas, marketing knowl- experience in marketing communications or keting, in terms of acceptance at all levels in edge, and development opportunities, as well ‘Mar-Comm,’” notes Wolsky. the marketplace,” comments Carl Wangman, as continue their education. According to the Executive Director for LMA. Wangman points LMA’s website, the organization was also During these early years, there was also a to the remarkable growth in LMA member- established to educate the legal community fair amount of turnover in the industry, much ship as statistical proof of his assertion. “about the important role law firm marketing of it due to the peculiar structure of law PAGE 1 continued on back WEEKLY RECRUITER SPEAK 1.800. 973. 1177 The increased acceptance of the concept rah Rhodunda, a marketing consultant with include an insatiable curiosity, love of travel, of legal marketing has actually led to an Altman Weil, Inc., stated, “More than 100 law and an independent spirit which doesn’t like evolution of the job’s responsibilities. The firm marketers met at the [LMA’s] Mid-At- to be confined to a small office. These people bread and butter of marketing - brochures, lantic Chapter meeting in February  for are usually gregarious, with large social net- advertising, publications, websites, and the a presentation and discussion of what could works that include a variety of people, many other obvious tools of the trade - is still a be a new trend in law firm business devel- of whom have differing perspectives. They’re very important part of the marketer’s job. opment - the sales director.” The meeting also characterized by cheerful optimism and But increasingly, the firm’s chief marketer participants pointed out that sales is differ- sometimes tactless directness. is taking a more active role in all levels of ent from marketing and has a different focus the firm’s promotion and sales-from senior and process but in many instances is being Cowan believes most of the preceding char- partner to associate to non-attorney profes- managed by marketing departments. acteristics “make one good at the complex sionals. sale.” “What you’re doing in a law firm busi- “Today,” comments Larry Bodine, “I estimate ness development situation,” he explains, Suzanne Donnels is the Chief Market- there are at least 50 sales directors at law “is figuring out how to motivate someone. In ing Officer for Allen Matkins, a large San firms across the U.S. The difference between most cases, you don’t know what the product Francisco-based law firm specializing in real marketing and sales is that sales involves is when you go in the door. You don’t know estate. “Marketing positions in law firms vary face-to-face meetings. None of the market- what it is they’re interested in buying. It greatly,” comments Ms. Donnels. “Some- ing is face to face. Sales involves developing requires an ability to switch hats and suits times a Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) in one leads, taking an existing relationship, or real quick.” firm will do one thing, while others attend building a relationship and turning it into a to entirely different matters. One of my first lead. Sales has been around forever, and Many Take a Wait-And-See Attitude Regard- tasks was to develop a marketing plan. How there are various steps to a sales process. ing Business Development/Legal Services are we going to staff the department? What Salespeople know that process and manage Sales With so few people actually working in are the department’s major goals and direc- it. “Sales people,” Bodine concludes, “know law firm sales, is it safe to call it the latest tions for the next 6-12 months? How are we how to close people.” law firm marketing trend? going to drive revenue for the firm?” “Several firms have gone to sales-type Mark Cowan, Business Development Partner positions and added them to their strategy,” Ms. Donnels points to an increasing trend with Patton Boggs in Washington, DC, is one comments Nathalie Daum, the current LMA among law firm marketers - the drive to link of the pioneers in the promotion and sales President and the Marketing Director for their marketing efforts to tangible revenue of legal services. Cowan is Chairman of the Arizona-based firm of Quarles & Brady. for the firm. While many firms don’t look for the firm’s Marketing Committee and works “They’re getting a lot of press,” Ms. Daum a direct one-to-one correspondence between closely with the firm’s Marketing Director. continues. “I don’t believe that the industry firm promotional efforts and revenue, others “We must have exchanged twenty-five emails has totally embraced it. It’s a new thing, and consider it the true test of marketing. just today,” explains Cowan, referring to a lot of people are waiting until they see the that day’s correspondence with the firm’s results.” With regard to her own firm, Ms. At Lindquist and Vennum, Wolsky was hired Marketing Director. Daum notes they’re both taking a wait-and- because the firm was interested in working see attitude but also beginning to move with someone who could implement a more We caught up with Mark Cowan in a Grand toward the business development model by “sales-oriented marketing plan.” Wolsky, Rapids hotel room, where he was attending working hand-in-hand with the attorneys to who is both an attorney and a marketing/ to the business of his firm. Cowan sees the develop that new business. sales person with several years of direct primary mission of a business development sales experience, some of it in the legal person as “helping the firm’s partners and “The guys that say it won’t work here - “ arena, was the perfect candidate for the job. associates develop their own practice.” comments Cowan, “that’s classic law firm “Most large law firms,” Wolsky notes, “are theology. It used to be lawyers don’t sell. shifting gears to a business development phi- What Kind of Person Does Law Firm Busi- That’s smarmy. We sit and wait for the busi- losophy, which is really a sales philosophy.” ness Development? ness to come to you. Those lawyers aren’t “I’m the quintessential Sagittarius,” jokes practicing any more.” Is There a Sales Director in Your Future? Cowan. “I don’t have some of the traits; I In “A Sales Director at My Law Firm?” Debo- have them all.” The traits Cowan refers to “Today,” concludes Cowan, “the law business PAGE 2 continued WEEKLY RECRUITER SPEAK 1.800. 973. 1177 is very competitive. Multiple firms pursue the same client.” And those firms demand much more than they used to. “They want to know how you charge, how you’re going to solve the problem, the firm’s background and experi- ence.” They want to know if the firm has done this kind of work, and if so, for whom. Law firm marketing has finally come of age. Widely accepted across the entire legal mar- ketplace, the marketing of legal services is becoming a mature profession. Time will tell if law firm sales is the next promotional trend. PAGE 3
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