Want a $500,000 Job? Big Law Firms are Desperate to Hire CMOs

According to the December issue of the American Lawyer, Am Law 200 firms like Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison; Morrison & Foerster; Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher; Sonnenschein Nath & Rosenthal; Ballard Spahr Andrews & Ingersoll; and Sutherland Asbill & Brennan are all in the market for a CMO.

"The chief marketing officer market is hotter than it's ever been," Sonnenschein chairman Elliott Portnoy told AmLaw. He may be one of the lucky ones, expecting to announce a new marketing chief this month after a five-month search. Firms such as MoFo have been looking for almost a year to no avail. "We're picky, and we're looking for the perfect candidate," says Morrison & Foerster chair Keith Wetmore.

Today the job encompasses branding, client targeting, competitive analysis, and strategic business development. Fifty-seven Am Law 100 firms now have CMOs, compared to 40 in 2005, according to Wisnik Career Enterprises, Inc.

But the supply of marketing professionals with legal experience hasn't kept up, say consultants and headhunters. "There aren't enough people to go around," says Jennifer Johnson, a vice president of recruitment and strategy at Wisnik. "Those 40 people didn't just multiply." The upshot: high turnover and even higher pay packages. The average tenure of a law firm CMO is three years, and Am Law 100 firms can find themselves offering upward of $500,000 to attract top-level candidates. 

As partners and CMOs report, both sides frequently harbor unrealistic expectations that are only fueled by the outsize pay packages. "The biggest challenge is earning the respect and credibility of the lawyers for yourself and your profession," says Debbie Mandelker, chief marketing officer at Arnold & Porter, who joined from Merrill Lynch & Co., Inc.

If you're looking for a CMO job, contact my friend Curtis Linder in Chicago at (312) 236-6400.  He is actively placing such candidates and conducting contingency fee searches.

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Curtis Linder - December 6, 2007 12:07 PM

Thanks for the nice mention today, Larry. And yes, it is true, we do see the high turnover and the higher comp. packages.

Curtis Linder
Linder Legal Staffing
Chicago IL

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