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In homage to downbeat comedian Rodney Dangerfield and his signature lament, a young member of the Metropolitan New York chapter of the Legal Marketing Association who asked for anonymity � “Or else I’ll kill you!” � had the following to say of her collegial experience: “Every meeting I go to begins and ends with ‘I don’t get no respect.’ “ In the hierarchical and often hidebound atmosphere of law firm life, respect for legal marketers is “not what it should be, but it’s getting better” according to Paul Webb, 42, director of business development at Proskauer Rose, who earned a J.D. at Rutgers University School of Law. “Much of it has to do with the training we marketers receive, versus that of lawyers. Lawyers are trained to look for and avoid problems for their clients, which makes them more conservative than marketers. Marketers are trained to look for opportunities and in some ways to go with their gut a little more,” says Webb. Another marketing professional who asked to remain nameless explained the lack of respect this way: “If you used to be a lawyer and now you’re doing something else, it means you’ve quit the track and there’s something defective.” He explained further: “I think it stems from the fact that lawyers are as tough as nails, but terrified of picking up the phone and making a [business solicitation] call.” Jennifer Manton, president of the Metropolitan New York LMA, acknowledges the glum view and has a plan to do something about it. Such sentiment, she suggests, is a blight on a fast-changing segment of the big-firm Manhattan legal world, a segment grown to the point where those who want in include associates variously disenchanted with chugging along the partnership track. “We have to continue to evolve the profession and how we’re perceived,” says Manton, director of marketing and communications at Thelen, Reid & Priest who learned her trade in the accounting industry. “The responsibility is on us to educate our firms as to how we add value, how we impact the bottom line. One of the best ways to do this is to actually recognize good legal marketing.” Accordingly, the 275-member Metropolitan New York LMA will bestow its first annual “Achievement Through Marketing Excellence” award during a gala ceremony on Dec. 12. Recently, an LMA committee sifted through the extensive filings of nine entrants who must demonstrate how their marketing initiatives produced new and continuing revenue for their firm. “That’s a good way to do an award,” says a marketing director of a large firm, a former attorney who likewise asked for anonymity. “It reinforces the idea that the valuable marketer improves business. You get respect by delivering results.” In the District, two marketing professionals at Morgan, Lewis & Bockius were honored Oct. 1 by the Washington chapter of the International Association of Business Communicators. The IABC awarded a 2003 Silver Inkwell Award of Excellence to the firm’s marketing director, Eleanor Kerlow, and to Brooke Riter, D.C. marketing manager. The pair were recognized for positioning their securities practice attorneys as expert commentators during last year’s corporate governance scandals. A marketing award was also won by local IP firm Sterne, Kessler, Goldstein & Fox for its innovative Web site, a project overseen by marketing manager Tammy Mangan. The “Your Honor” award was presented by the LMA at its annual conference in San Francisco in March. UMBRELLA DEPARTMENT Thelen, Reid’s Manton says that marketing areas of law firms are umbrella departments, incorporating advertising, public relations, external communications, and client care. Some initiatives, such as public relations, are slow to show cause and effect monetarily. Other initiatives, such as having teams of younger lawyers under a lead partner holding regular meetings with clients, yield more measurable revenue results. “We should be learning more about the client, and respond more to their needs by providing solutions. As marketers, we should also involve our firms in more research by identifying industries in which we want to grow our own business,” says Manton. Years ago, marketing such as it was mainly involved event planning by law firm secretaries. Webb and his counterparts say professional legal marketing was born in 1980, when the Supreme Court cleared the way for firms to advertise their services. Still, he notes, “law firms didn’t really grab on to professional marketing until about five years ago.” Marketing, long in use by top-down industries to promote and sell products to the masses, is practically brand new to genteel law firm partners peddling pricey services. According to a survey by the Boston-based BTI Consulting Group, the average “chief marketing officer” at a law firm has been on the job for 3.9 years, and 75 percent of CMOs have less than five years under their belts. “That’s not an indication that they’re a bunch of rookies,” says the anonymous young lawyer/marketing director. “What you’re seeing is that suddenly the firms are taking marketing seriously and hiring top-level people, who will now be sticking around.” Certainly at big-firm pay rates, they will remain. A half-dozen major firm CMOs contacted agreed that current salaries range from $65,000 � for deputies not long out of school and with minimal experience as lawyers, professional marketers, or journalists � to $150,000 for supervisors and $300,000 for top veterans. One CMO says, “I would not be surprised if someone out there was making $400,000 by now.” RETURN ON INVESTMENT To justify the return on salary investment, CMOs do their best to tie their work to new revenues when reporting their activities to managing partners or executive committees. In summing up a year’s performance, says Webb, “I look at the number of contacts we’ve made, our newsletters, our Web site, our seminars, our public relations, and how our message gets out to specific industry groups. It’s not easy relating that to revenues. So much of it is anecdotal. But we’ve made a case that the anecdotes are positive.” What goes for Proskauer now goes for one of the last three holdouts among the biggest Manhattan firms. In July, Cravath, Swaine & Moore hired its first full-time marketing director. Only two other firms remain skeptical of professional marketing: Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz and Cahill, Gordon & Reindel. Most firms’ marketing departments are relatively small. Manton’s group at Thelen Reid numbers 15, for instance. At the opposite and exceptional end is Linklaters, a particularly international-minded firm, where the New York marketing staff tops 80. Among attorneys at the major firms, Manton suggests, those more open-minded on the topic of professional marketing tend to be the younger lawyers. “It’s simple math,” she says. “There simply wasn’t the competition in the [legal] marketplace 20 or 30 years ago. Clients weren’t as savvy.” What constituted marketing a generation ago, she says, was, “The phone rang because a partner was a known expert in a certain field. Now, all of our associates are constantly looking to improve their marketing skills. It’s an awareness they have as soon as they arrive for orientation. And as they progress in their careers, they continue to understand that marketing is part of the job of being a lawyer.” And sometimes, a lawyer tires of being a lawyer and slides into marketing. Especially lawyer/mothers, according to the anonymous female LMA member. “The typical marketer is a 32-year-old attractive woman who looks like an associate,” says the LMA member. “And the average audience for her message is a male who’s older. We’re a mostly female profession serving a mostly male profession, like nurses and doctors. It helps if you’re a lawyer � or if you’ve had some other profession besides marketing.” Gradually, says Manton, progress is made in institutionalizing marketing in the legal environment. And every year, those working in the professional frontier of legal marketing understand that a diverse set of skills is required for success � and survival. “First, you have to be a very good writer,” she says. “You have to be humble, recognizing that you’re not selling a product, you’re selling a service. Those who’ve worked in a legal environment get to the top of the list faster. “Oh � and you have to have a sense of humor,” she adds. Thomas Adcock is a staff reporter at New York Law Journal, an American Lawyer Media daily newspaper, where this article first appeared.

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