Marketing and the modern law firm
Whether or not you operate within a global firm or a boutique partnership, it is likely that some form of marketing or business development is now a prominent feature of the working week. Firms large and small are moving to engage with marketing professionals and benefitting from the opportunities they can unlock.
Within smaller firms this may be in an attempt to recruit their first in house marketing professional while in magic circle firms, they are more likely to be dedicated business development managers embedded into each sector of the business. Whatever the case, there is no doubt that these are crucial hires to any progressive firm.
Traditionally, there has been some reticence amongst fee earners to engage with marketing or business development; the perception being that it demands time and detracts from chargeable hours. A marketing professional with great interpersonal skills can persuade even the most sceptical of lawyers that BD is an essential element of any forward thinking law firm. The realisation now is that BD can add real value and help to win more clients and ultimately, more chargeable work.
In this ultra competitive market, a dedicated marketing professional can enable a smaller firm to maximise the opportunities that client relationships offer and fully utilise important channels such as social media and digital communications.
The array of marketing and business development roles on offer within a national firm is diverse and all have a specific remit and function. Established marketing areas include business development, client relations, communications, PR and digital. Individuals in these areas will work on a consultative basis with fee earners on anything from pitching for new business to writing a press release about a project or sharing the appointment of a new partner via social channels.
Ultimately, the role of business development and marketing is all about increasing revenue and taking market share from competitors. No matter their size or scope, legal firms can no longer afford to ignore this valuable tool at their disposal. However, it is important that a firm fully understands its business needs before investing in a marketing professional.
Nicola Lynch, head of communications at the legal firm, White & Black Ltd reminds us that:
‘The fatal error which some firms make is to hire a generalist, expecting them to be brilliant at everything. This is akin to hiring a GP and expecting them to be an expert in surgery, physiotherapy and psychiatry. Some candidates love a generalist role while others have built their careers on a specific skill set in client relations or PR for example. Making sure that you have the right horse for your particular course takes careful thought and planning’
For clients looking to recruit marketing and business development professionals, there are talented candidates available but the market is highly competitive, particularly if you are seeking legal expertise with a specific sector focus. Widening the search to include candidates from other locations or those who hail from the sector itself may present more options. For example, when hiring a legal BD into the insurance sector, a candidate with a background in a large insurance business will bring detailed industry knowledge as well as relevant business relationships.
Marketing is rarely bound by geography with most firms happy to base a business development manager in any location on the proviso that they are happy to travel and liaise with key stakeholders according to business need.
For marketing candidates who are interested in the legal sector, it can appear to be tricky to secure that first role as many hiring managers have an excellent network of contacts. However, if you have some sector specific knowledge and can demonstrate the ability to manage stakeholders at all levels, there will always be good opportunities available.
Legal recruitment will always be accompanied by its own unique challenges, which is why Michael Page has a national network of consultants who focus exclusively on marketing and business development in this sector. Whether you are a client looking at the structure of your team or a candidate who is interested in the next move, please do not hesitate to get in touch and discuss your options.
Kate Upton- 0121 2309468/ 07467 000341