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Exemplifying the investment in the marriage between technology and marketing in the legal world, San Francisco’s Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe over the past year has built a high-profile, high-dollar brain trust, and this year is rolling out firmwide technology upgrades. Orrick’s approach was to lure marketing consultant Norm Rubenstein, a former president of the Legal Marketing Association and lead marketer at Washington, D.C., firms Shaw Pittman and McKenna & Cuneo, to come in-house as chief marketing officer and to recruit Electronic Data Systems Corp.’s Patrick Tisdale as chief information officer. In his year with the firm, Rubenstein has assembled a team including two technology specialists — Suzanne Donnels, former top marketer at Nossaman, Guthner, Knox & Elliott, and John Hodder, formerly of Los Angeles’ Troop Steuber Pasich Reddick & Tobey — as well as media specialist Diane Iselin. The group also relies on outside consultants Wendy Loder for strategic planning and Leigh Dance for international work. In all, Orrick’s hiring binge has brought the marketing department from about five members to nearly 20. At the same time, the Orrick team has turned its attention to infrastructure. By this summer, the firm plans to have InterAction and Proposal Automation Suite on desktops firmwide. Orrick is also designing a new Web site, slated to debut later this year, and identifying clients for extranet experiments. “What’s happened over the last several years is that clients have become much, much savvier about what law firms do and how to invite them to submit their qualifications,” Rubenstein says. “It forces us to be much savvier and more effective in the way we present ourselves.” To be effective, Rubenstein says, technology must be tethered to marketing’s traditional focus on people. He likens its role to that of backup singers: You want them to enhance the main event, not steal the show. “We don’t ever want the technology to get ahead of the people who are using it,” he says. “If your technology is so glitzy that it overshadows the relationship between people, then it does a disservice.”

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