I have been in the legal marketing industry for 20 years, and it is where I have developed a sizable network of colleagues. I have also served as VP of Sales Training for a publicly traded corporation that sells services to the legal industry and corporate legal departments. This has allowed me to see things from all sides of the legal marketing spectrum.
One thing sticks out: CMOs at most law firms are underutilized and over managed. Instead of being seen as a SUPERIOR when it comes to growth and revenue, they are treated as Chief Suggestion and Flattery Officer where participation is optional and support based on the personality of the person they are meeting with at the moment.
This is not the case at every firm. There are great CMOs at great firms doing great things because of the great support they receive. However, there are far too many great CMOs relegated to average things because management has deemed their craft as “useful, but optional”. This would never, ever, EVER fly in a corporation.
Yes, law firm partnerships and corporations are different business structures. Of course, the culture is different. However, I would love to hear the argument that makes the case for why an entity’s culture and structure makes the laws of human behavior and buying preferences have their own set of rules. To clarify, I mean the behavior and preferences of CLIENTS, not the people who run the firm.
I would argue that at each and every firm in the top 300, the person in charge of marketing is the most knowledgable marketing professional on planet Earth that receives a paycheck from that firm. They should be treated that way.
As my brilliant friend Deborah Farone stated, “A CMO does not arrive their first day on the job with a bag of magic beans, ready to grow a practice.” I will add to this line with one of my own. You cannot grow those beans when a CMO requests “extravagant resources” such as water, fertilizer and sunlight, and a firm says things like, “Thanks for your suggestions, but we don’t believe in those things. You will have grow the practice without it.”
The smart CMO picks up their beans and moves on. Good for them.
“A CMO does not arrive their first day on the job with a bag of magic beans, ready to grow a practice. The firms that succeed with a CMO demonstrate a genuine commitment to market from senior leadership and provide the resources to make the relationship work.” –law firm expert Deborah Farone