It used to be that lawyers could rely on their contacts and relationships to win work. As the market has become increasingly competitive, lawyers rely more on the skills of the marketing and business development department to grow their practices. As a result, legal marketing has grown tremendously in recent years. It has gradually transitioned from an administrative function to more of an advisor/consultant role, following in the footsteps of other large professional service firms. While the evolution of the marketing role is changing, many lawyers find it difficult to view marketing professionals beyond the traditional administrative role.
The demand for legal marketing professionals has led to changes within legal marketing and business development teams, not only in roles but in size. Not so long ago, small firms didn’t even have marketing professionals, and larger firms only had a handful of marketers. In the new legal marketing environment, even smaller firms have marketing departments, and large global firms may have marketing teams that exceed 200 people. To change perceptions, legal marketers, like lawyers and other professionals, must continue to develop their skills.
Many firms fall short in this area, as many legal marketers are busy and focused on addressing day-to-day tasks. This “response” marketing approach has a negative impact in the way marketing teams work and serve their lawyers. Additionally, this approach feeds the perception that legal marketers simply serve an administrative function.
To counter this misunderstanding of marketing within our firm, Hogan Lovells, we decided to create our own professional development program aimed at developing the leadership skills of the marketing staff. The objective of the program was to get the team thinking and operating at a higher caliber.
The program was built around the firm’s leadership behaviors as well as important skills members of the team felt needed a greater focus. Gathering feedback from our leadership and others around the organization, we built out an 18-month program consisting of monthly sessions for managers or non-managers. Session topics vary and include topics such as:
- Building Talent and Driving Results
- Personal Growth
- Valuing Differences
- Marketing Yourself and Setting Goals
- Judgment and Decision Making
- Collaboration and Communication
The program has been well received by all in the department. While the sessions are optional and no one is required to attend, the participation is always high. We are pleased at just how excited members of the team are to attend the next session. We are all very busy, but the fact that people make time in their day to attend the sessions speaks to how badly it is needed. We love to hear people referencing the sessions and applying the concepts in their work. Marketing leadership within the firm took notice of the popularity of the programs and agreed to support the initiative.
Daphne Kane, a senior coordinator, has found the program to be beneficial not only for her development, but also for team building. “It can be very hard to carve out time in work schedules for personal development but the M&BD leadership program has provided that opportunity. In addition to learning new skills, I’ve also felt more engaged with my team and motivated to keep my curiosity alive and strong.” Deborah Ruffins, global head of practice marketing and business development, added, “Leadership is always trying to identify ways to develop staff without breaking the budget. We were so impressed with the quality of the program developed and appreciated the proactive initiative to see a need and offer a solution.”
As law firms continue to evolve and strengthen their approach to winning business, keeping up with the market will require not only lawyers, but also legal marketing professionals, to continue to grow and develop.
About the Authors
Ger Thor is global pitch infrastructure manager and Ikoie Norman is a practice marketing and business development professional at Hogan Lovells.