Peer to Peer Magazine

Spring 2015

The quarterly publication of the International Legal Technology Association

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Page 47 of 75

WWW.ILTANET.ORG 49 proposals to being part of a pitch team that approaches a prospective client. In most larger firms, business development support is assigned to the firm's "product lines;" marketers embedded in industry or practice groups gain valuable insight into the clientele, referral sources, organizations, media, opportunities and landscape for substantive areas. More and more, however, the leader of the marketing department must have a thorough understanding of business development. FUTURE GROWTH What might the future hold for the legal marketer? I often joke that in corporate America, the CMO has the best parking place at the company. While marketers might never unseat powerful partners for that spot in law firms, their influence and impact will continue to grow. Despite tremendous growth in the law firm marketing position over the years, one thing is as true today as it was in 1986 — no matter how talented the marketer, the culture of the firm and its support for the function will ultimately determine the marketer's ability to make a difference. • Strategy and Planning: Law firms increasingly are recognizing the strategic planning expertise marketing experts bring to the table. Marketers are leading planning sessions and helping partners look critically at their long-term strategies. In addition to organizing partner planning retreats, strategic marketers contribute to the substance of the meeting and are involved in implementation of the final plan. Strategic marketers also find themselves with significant external-facing activities, such as: • Client Interaction: Marketers can serve as client ombudsmen of sorts by interviewing top clients and bringing their comments, concerns and ideas back to the firm. The marketer could also have direct client contact in a range of other situations, from focus groups to client entertainment. • Hiring Input: In some firms, marketers work with the recruiting department to define the criteria for hiring associates. If the firm expects its lawyers to develop business — or in cases of lateral hiring, bring or grow books of business — that quality should be explored in interviews. The marketing professional is in a great position to determine if candidates have what it takes to generate business and be good team members. • Business Development: Today's marketing professionals are involved in pitching business for their firms. Their roles range from identifying and doing due diligence on opportunities to hands-on involvement in major to things that get the word out about the firm and its services, such as advertising, websites, social media, seminars and alerts. While promotional activities are important, they represent only a slice of what the marketing function could or should contribute to a firm. Some marketers are now playing a substantial role in determining the profitability of work and, subsequently, what the firm bids on new business. While a growing number of law firms have hired directors of pricing, smart firms involve their marketers in assessing whether business is worth pursuing and at what cost. On the product and place fronts, strategic marketers research and recommend firm offerings such as new substantive practices to pursue, service areas to grow or new geographic markets to enter. Today's law firms are hiring sophisticated business people who also have other aspects of marketing in their repertoire. For example: • Training: Marketing professionals often team with the firm's professional development staff to organize training and coaching programs that strengthen the marketing and business development skills of the lawyers, from giving elevator speeches to making effective pitches for business. About the Author Sally Schmidt is the President of Schmidt Marketing, Inc. in Edina, Minnesota. A former in-house marketing director for a law firm, she has provided more than 25 years of marketing and business development services to law firms nationally and internationally. Sally was a founder and the first president of the Legal Marketing Association (LMA); she was inducted into the inaugural class of LMA's Hall of Fame and given a lifetime achievement award. Contact her at Marketers are leading planning sessions and helping partners look critically at their long- term strategies. Learn more about the Legal Marketing Association at

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