Last month The American Lawyer compared the recent movement of marketing executives between Big Law firms to a merry-go-round. Carousel, revolving door, whatever—pick your spinning apparatus, the trend is not slowing down.
Foley & Lardner has gotten into the game, bringing on former Crowell & Moring chief client development and practice management officer Melanie Zaletsky. Her title at Foley & Lardner will be chief marketing and business development officer.
Zaletsky has close to 20 years of experience in various sales, marketing and business development roles. “Melanie is an exceptionally talented and dynamic addition to our administrative leadership team,” said John Hurley, Foley & Lardner’s chief operating officer, in a statement. “I am confident that her leadership and deep expertise in client development will help drive Foley forward.”
Zaletsky is actually replacing Hurley, who was promoted to his current role after about three years as Foley & Lardner’s CMO. Hurley came to Foley & Lardner after a decade at DLA Piper, where he also worked with Zaletsky.
“The firm’s commitment to their clients, evidenced by their client visits and knowledge of their client’s businesses as well as the firm’s culture, were big reasons.” Zaletsky said regarding her move.
She said it is too early to get into specifics on what her early initiatives will be, but she did say that making sure everyone understands that innovation, even in tiny doses, is key. “Everyone thinks that innovation has to be something huge, like landing on the moon,” she said. “But it can be effective in daily, small steps that add up.”
Zaletsky will be responsible for business development, marketing, client service and branding efforts across all practices, industries and office, according to a firm statement.
Also this week, Ankura Consulting Group, a business advisory firm, announced that longtime K&L Gates CMO Jeffrey Berardi was leaving his Big Law perch to join the company. Berardi had been at K&L Gates for 15 years.
When asked about the recent CMO moves, Zaletsky said she didn’t believe that there was any singular driving force behind them over the past year and that each move had more to do with the individual person and their relationship with their firm.
Debra Baker, managing director of GrowthPlay, sees it a bit differently. While working as marketing director at now-defunct Heller Ehrman, she said she saw the position turn over five times in seven years. “Firm leadership often recognizes the need for the role,” she said. “Firm partners don’t always see it the same way. They get impatient when results aren’t immediate.”
Baker said between that disconnect and the growing influence of C-suite professionals in law firm management, you can expect more moves. As more firms recognize the CMO as a key revenue generating position, their influence and demand for their services grows. If the firms are not willing to fund marketing projects that are important to the CMO, the CMO can start to look around for firms that will.
Prior to her arrival at Crowell & Moring, Zaletsky spent five years at Hogan Lovells and three years at DLA Piper. She also worked in a sales capacity at Bowne & Co. and Raytheon Co. and was in the U.S. Navy from 1994 to 2000.
Crowell & Moring declined to comment on Zaletsky’s departure.