The revolving door in Big Law marketing departments remains active, as multiple firms have hired new CMO and business development leaders this year. Several of the new hires bring experience outside the law firm arena, reflecting the demand for experience in other industries.
Among the latest moves, Boies Schiller Flexner has hired former Cahill, Gordon & Reindel CMO Michelle Murray in New York into a newly created position of global director of business development.
Meanwhile, former Stroock, Stroock & Lavan director of business development Kevin Iredell is now the CMO for Lowenstein Sandler, replacing Gregory Fleischmann, who moved into the role of global director of business development and marketing in New York at Sidley Austin. In addition, Heather Morse, formerly at Los Angeles-based Greenberg Glusker Fields Claman & Machtinger, has joined 180-attorney firm McGlinchey Stafford as its chief business development officer, relocating from Los Angeles to New Orleans in the process.
Murray, Boies Schiller’s new hire, had been at Cahill for a little over two years and previously held a senior marketing and business development position at New Jersey firm Connell Foley. The rest of Murray’s experience lies outside the legal arena, mainly in business development for the banking industry. Murray held a VP role at Deutsche Bank Securities as well as an executive director position at European bank WestLB.
“We are committed to servicing our clients at the highest level,” said Nicholas Gravante Jr., a member of the firm’s management committee, in a statement. “We are confident that Michelle’s significant track record in client development will greatly enhance our efforts.”
The position is a new one for Boies Schiller, indicating an increased focus on marketing and business development efforts.
“Boies Schiller Flexner is widely recognized as the preeminent litigation firm,” Murray said in a statement. “I will work closely with the firm’s executive leadership to develop and execute strategic business and client-focused initiatives.”
In its own statement, Cahill said Murray “accomplished a lot here” and wished her well. The firm provided no comment on whether anyone had replaced Murray as Cahill’s CMO.
As for Iredell at Lowenstein, he said while he’s not intending to remake the wheel, he is looking forward to cementing policies around business development that center on market research, keeping track of trends in potential clients’ industries and actively doing what in sales is known as “pre-call planning.”
Iredell was previously vice president of legal intelligence and marketing at ALM Media, parent company of The American Lawyer and its affiliates.
Iredell said the role is part of a larger strategy many firms have embraced: bring in business professionals to handle elements that traditionally were the responsibility of partners. “Historically, attorneys haven’t really had to sell,” he said. “Referrals, word of mouth was all you needed. But now firms offer more levels of service, there is increased competition. There are so many ways to reach clients now.”
Stroock chief marketing and business development officer Trish Lilley, who brought Iredell on at Stroock, said in a statement that she was happy he was getting a C-level position and thought it was a great opportunity for him.
Iredell’s predecessor at Lowenstein, Fleischmann, who had been at the firm for 18 months, moved to Sidley in February, according to Fleischmann’s LinkedIn profile. While he was previously at Baker McKenzie, he also spent almost a decade doing business development at Deloitte.
Murray, Fleischmann and Iredell all bring experiences from outside the legal industry, notably in consulting and finance, lending credibility to the notion that firms are looking outside the traditional talent pool in order to gain a business advantage.
“The personality of the CMO is usually one of an advocate,” said Deborah Farone, a legal marketing consultant who has written on best practices in law firm marketing. “That is the exciting part of the role. The consulting side provides a good, solid education for someone looking to get into [law firm marketing].”
But those who have years of experience in law firm marketing remain in demand. Morse, known by many in the legal industry as the author and editor of the The Legal Watercooler blog, moved to McGlinchey Stafford in April as the new chief business development officer. She spent the previous four-plus years at Greenberg Glusker and has had marketing stints at Hinshaw & Culbertson, Barger & Wolen, Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman, Hatch & Parent and Perkins Coie, among others.
While a different perspective can be beneficial, Morse said, she believes that coming into a law firm from out of industry will most likely result in a few bumps in the road before an executive finds the right fit.
Every firm is different, Morse said, but a lot of the “pathways are the same,” and once a professional knows how to navigate the structure of a law firm, he or she can be more effective.