Deborah Farone
Deborah Farone (Courtesy photo)

Deborah Farone, the longtime chief marketing director of Cravath, Swaine & Moore, is leaving to open her own marketing consultancy for law firms and other professional service providers.

The consulting firm, Farone Advisors, will focus on law firm business development, marketing and communications and crisis communications.

Farone previously worked at Debevoise & Plimpton for 13 years, eventually becoming chief marketing officer, before joining Cravath about 14 years ago. She served as Cravath’s director of business development and communications, a CMO-type role in which she supervised a staff of more than 25 people.

In her Cravath career, Farone has worked with four presiding partners, including most recently Faiza Saeed, who became the firm’s top leader in January.

Farone, 54, said the leadership change was not a factor in her decision to leave. She said the catalyst for her move was the opportunity to write a book on law firm marketing for the Practising Law Institute’s book division. The book will be published next year.

She said when she got a call about the book offer, it was the “perfect timing” to start her own consulting firm. “I was given an opportunity to write a book, I thought that’s great, and I could also start a consultancy,” she said. “It just seemed like a natural step.”

She said she has always wanted to start her own firm with her own clients. “This way I can serve more clients,” she said.

“I like coming up with new tactics and approaches,” she said. As a consultant, “I’ll be able to do more of that. That’s the part of the job I love.”

Farone’s long tenure at Cravath is not common among CMOs, who typically last about five years in the job at most.

Farone attributes the turnover rate to a mismatch in expectations. She said firms often don’t know what they expect from the CMO.

“The job is not always laid out with the right expectations that match the candidate’s skill set,” she said, while “candidates find out it’s not what they expected.”

As part of her consulting work, she would like to work with firms on how to improve the CMO position to help achieve the right match, she said.

Farone said she doesn’t have aspirations to build a big agency, adding she wants to focus on “doing high-quality work for a few clients.”

She envisions those clients could be small, midsize or large firms and other professional service businesses, such as accounting firms. She declined to identify potential clients she may be working with, but said she plans to continue working with some Cravath partners to finish some projects.

Saeed, in a statement, said: “We appreciate Deborah’s many years of dedicated leadership and service at Cravath and we wish her the best in her new endeavors.”

C. Allen Parker, a former presiding partner at Cravath, said Farone “helped us develop internal systems from the ground up” and obtained experience through “working in the trenches and dealing with the most challenging marketing and public relations issues in professional services.” Parker is now general counsel at Wells Fargo & Co.

Ralph Ferrara, a Proskauer Rose partner who worked with Farone when he was practicing at Debevoise, said he recalls giving Farone a nearly impossible task as a partner—to appear on the front page of The Wall Street Journal’s B-Section. About nine months later, Ferrara and his practice were prominently featured on the front page of the paper. He said that Farone told him that he may not like everything in the article, but “in one month’s time, the only thing that the world will remember is that you had a nearly half page ad” in the newspaper.

“She was absolutely right,” he said, calling Farone the “gold standard” in marketing.