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The once-ephemeral tenure of chief marketing officers among Am Law 200 firms has, for many, morphed into a much longer-term position as the legal marketing industry has matured. But nothing lasts forever.

A few longtime CMOs have made moves in the last few months, with the most recent departure coming from Drinker Biddle & Reath.

Chief Marketing Officer John M. Byrne is leaving the firm by month’s end to start his own “content marketing communications strategy firm,” Byrne confirmed.

Byrne, who spoke to The Legal from Florida, where he was co-chairing the Legal Marketing Association annual conference last week, had been with Drinker Biddle for eight years. He started out at the firm as director of communications and took over as CMO in 2010. Byrne ran the 25-member marketing department while Chief Value Officer Kristin Sudholz has run the firm’s knowledge and project management functions.

Byrne, who lives in a suburb of Chicago, has been splitting his time between Drinker Biddle’s Philadelphia and Chicago offices. His new company will be based out of Chicago and focus on representing law firms to start, with the goal of branching out to cover other professional services firms and nonprofits.

The decision for Byrne to leave Drinker Biddle happened in February. A transition period was created in which Drinker Biddle has brought in a consultant to oversee the marketing department on an interim basis, Byrne confirmed.

A call to the firm wasn’t immediately returned. Byrne, who said he was not asked to leave the firm, said he knows Drinker Biddle is currently looking for someone to run the marketing operations. Byrne said that anytime someone leaves, it gives an organization an opportunity to look at the role and any unmet needs of the firm to determine what type of person or people could fill the role.

Drinker Biddle is far from the only Pennsylvania firm to see movement in the chief marketing position. And it looks as though the firms that have recently had the opportunity to fill the CMO role have expanded the duties to include oversight of business development issues.

William McCusker led Pepper Hamilton’s marketing department from January 2006 through August 2013 before leaving for KPMG. Pepper Hamilton announced in January that it hired from within. The firm named Daniel P. Pulka as its new CMO. Pulka had been with Pepper Hamilton since 2006 as director of marketing and was named interim CMO when McCusker left. Pulka is based in Pepper Hamilton’s Philadelphia office and is responsible for the oversight of the marketing and business development functions of the firm.

“The firm conducted a national search for our new chief marketing officer,” Pepper Hamilton CEO Scott Green said in a statement in January. “After considering an impressive roster of candidates, we concluded that Dan Pulka brings the vision, strategic oversight, pragmatic approach and experience our growing firm needs. He knows Pepper well, and has demonstrated his ability to lead a diverse marketing and communications team that successfully supports the firm, our partners and our practice areas.”

Also in January, Blank Rome hired Hans T. Haglund from Patton Boggs to serve as Blank Rome’s first chief business development and marketing officer. Blank Rome had a chief marketing officer, Catherine Bishop, from 2004 through 2011. The position went unfilled from April 2011 until Haglund joined earlier this year and took on the expanded role.

Ballard Spahr’s chief marketing officer position has been open since October 2013, when Eileen Kenney left the firm after more than five years heading up the department. The firm has posted an ad for a chief marketing and business development officer, which would expand the position from the CMO title Kenney held.

Despina Kartson, who led Latham & Watkins’ marketing department since 2004, left the firm in March 2013 to serve as Morgan, Lewis & Bockius’ new chief marketing officer.

Kartson took over a position last held by Michael Baltes, who left the firm in September 2012 after four-and-a-half years to become chief marketing and communications officer at Philadelphia-based Post & Schell.

A round of CMO movement occurred in 2011 at Pennsylvania firms. Cozen O’Connor named Lisa Haas as its CMO in September 2011. Schnader Harrison Segal & Lewis named Julie P. Meyers as its CMO in May 2011 and Dechert named Wendy Taylor as its CMO in January 2011. Buchanan Ingersoll & Rooney doesn’t have a CMO position but it did name Randy P. Vulakovich as its chief business development officer in 2011.

Mark Messing has served as Duane Morris’ CMO since 2009. Trish Lilley took over as CMO of Fox Rothschild in 2008.

Reed Smith has one of the longest-tenured CMOs in the state. David S. Egan has served in that role since 2004. Jeffrey Berardi took over as K&L Gates’ CMO in 2006.

Gina Passarella can be contacted at 215-557-2494 or at gpassarella@alm.com. Follow her on Twitter @GPassarellaTLI. •