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Depending on the law firm, the legal administrator’s relationship with the marketing staff varies. In some cases, the administrator is a supervisor; in others, a colleague. In some firms, marketing and administration work closely and cooperatively; in others, an uneasy alliance exists. Whatever the role, the relationship between the administrator and marketing is an important one. Increasingly, law firms are putting more resources toward their marketing and business development efforts in the form of dollars, as well as personnel. Many law firms with a marketing track record are committing 3 percent or more of their gross fees to that effort. Large law firms now have scores of marketing personnel in their departments, including practice group managers, office coordinators and business development specialists. Whether your legal administrative role vis-a-vis marketing is oversight, supervision or simply as an interested party, there is a lot you should know about law firm marketing departments. The Legal Marketing Association, the professional association for law firm marketing, conducts an annual “Roles and Compensation Survey.” A sneak peek at the soon-to-be-released results of the recently-completed survey reveals some interesting findings in California. MARKETING’S FACE LIFT The staffing of the law firm marketing department has changed dramatically over the past 10 years or so. For the California firms responding to the LMA survey, the size of the marketing department ranges from one individual to 100 full-time equivalents; the average marketing department size is 8.6. Other changes involve the level and function of the marketers. According to the survey, California law firms employ marketing professionals ranging from assistants to chief marketing officers. The largest numbers of respondents in the survey represent directors (19 percent), managers (24 percent) and coordinators (29 percent). In addition, law firms are now deploying marketing staff in ways that enhance the value they bring to the firm. Instead of establishing a centralized function with a number of marketing generalists, many departments now include the following key elements: Practice specialists:These marketers are aligned with departments, practice groups or industry groups, and have as their primary responsibility learning about those substantive areas and providing service to the “field.” Office marketers:These marketing professionals are on the ground in various firm locations and add value to decisions about local initiatives, such as public relations, community sponsorships or client events. Functional specialists:Many firms have people with functional specialties that assist firmwide, such as graphic designers, writers, market researchers and event planners. Business development specialists:These professionals provide sales support (for example, identifying and targeting new business, developing proposals and pitches, researching prospects) to help lawyers be more effective in their efforts to bring in business. At the top of the marketing organizational chart is a seasoned professional, often a director of marketing. They are more frequently being labeled ‘chief marketing officer.’ GAUGING NEEDS As a result of increased responsibilities, levels and expectations, compensation for legal marketers is also on the rise. Total compensation (salary plus bonus) for California legal marketers in the 2005 study ranged from $33,000 to $293,000, with an average of $90,141. The highest-paid marketers were CMO, and total compensation for the greatest number of marketing directors (38 percent) fell in the $100,000 to $150,000 range. In most firms, the executive director or administrator is involved in decisions about structuring the marketing department or hiring for marketing positions. While it’s important to understand industry trends, it’s also important to avoid some frequent industry mistakes. Many elements of a successful hire are not easily found in research data. Here are some thoughts and suggestions for administrators who may be facing a hiring need in the marketing area: � Assess your needs before you hire: Just because the firm next door has hired a CMO doesn’t mean you need one � or are ready for one. It’s important to spend some time determining exactly what you want your marketer to do, and then clearly outlining these functions in a job description. PR is different than marketing. Business development is different than marketing. The type of position will impact the skills you require, the types of candidates you interview and the compensation you need to pay. � Assess your firm and its culture:Your firm’s culture has a tremendous impact on the marketing function, and the ability of the marketer to get the job done. If your firm’s partner compensation system has huge incentives for originating business but also has huge disincentives for delegating the work, the marketer needs to know this. You need to be honest about what the lawyers and the firm will actually allow someone to do. � Know the market:It’s a fact: Law firm marketers are well paid. Some lawyers and administrators experience “sticker shock” when seeing compensation levels in their markets. But if you want to hire someone with the right skills and experience, you need to be prepared to pay for them. And you will pay more for law firm experience. � Don’t over-hire( and overpay): If you hire a director of marketing but provide no staff, that person will not perform at the optimal level. The annals of law marketing are filled with stories of professionals ostensibly hired to provide strategic insight � Ph.D.s to do market research or former in-house lawyers to oversee business development � who instead spend their time coordinating seminars. Hire enough people � and the right kind of people � to meet your needs. � Be an ally and resource to marketing:Executive directors or administrators are privy to a lot of information that can or will impact the firm’s marketing effort. If you share relevant background information, key financial data and other salient developments with the marketers, they will be more effective. Be a friend of marketing. Sally J. Schmidt is president of Schmidt Marketing Inc. in Saint Paul, Minn. The first president of the national Legal Marketing Association and a former in-house marketer, she has counseled more than 350 law firms over the past 19 years. She is author of “Marketing the Law Firm:Business Development Techniques” and “Business Development for Lawyers:Strategies for Getting and Keeping Clients.” She can be reached at( 651) 222-6102 or [email protected].

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