Legal firms step outside the law for marketing help

"Law firms are tapping people who come from fields such as technology, accounting, consulting and investment banking. The trend is a further example of how law firms are embracing business practices that are common in the corporate world.

"As law firms grow bigger and must deal with issues like mergers and globalization, law firm managers want marketing ideas from professionals who have dealt with those issues elsewhere, said partners and marketers. The challenges of big firms "naturally leads law firm leaders to look across a broader set of industry options when they hire the next marketing parson," said Libby Chambers, the chief marketing officer at Bingham McCutchen LLP, a firm with foreign offices and which is the result of a merger in 2002. She joined the firm this year after being the No. 2 marketing and business development official at Bank of America Corp.

"Heller Ehrman White & McAuliffe LLP appointed a new chief marketing officer, William Morgan, within the last month, picking a candidate who spent time at both SBC Communications Inc. and Microsoft Corp. Morgan said there are parallels between law firms today and telecommunications companies after deregulation. Both rely on more aggressive marketing than in the past, he said.

"Law firms' value of their chief marketing officers is reflected in their salaries. Many command six-figure salaries as high as $400,000, said Gary Davis, a partner at law consultancy Patterson Davis Consulting in San Francisco.

"Some law firm managers said they reached outside the legal community for marketing help because they did not want someone drawing on conservative strategies that had been tried before. Before the 1990s, law firm advertising wasn't common. Now many firms engage in branding campaigns much like accounting or technology firms."

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