After rethinking its longtime business development strategy, McCarter & English has created a new position: chief advancement officer.
Geoff Goldberg, a former U.S. Marine with a legal marketing background, is taking a broad look at the Newark firm’s practice areas and functions, such as finance and marketing.
Goldberg joined McCarter in May after spending 1½ years as chief marketing officer at Lowenstein Sandler in Roseland.
Since his arrival, he has been working with each of the firm’s practice groups to develop business plans and marketing goals.
He is also building a staff of business development professionals who will work with the practice groups to identify new opportunities for growth.
McCarter & English has had chief marketing officers in the past. But managing partner Stephen Vajtay says he came to believe it needed something other than a narrowly focused position that concentrated on tending to the firm website and responding to requests for proposals by clients.
The title of chief advancement officer is common in health-care and higher education but not in the law, a Google search indicates.
McCarter felt it was a fitting title for an executive who will play a leading role in many aspects of the firm’s business.
“We had, for the first 150 years or so, kind of done marketing the old-fashioned way. We largely believed our reputation and the quality of our lawyers was enough to attract work,” Vajtay says.
“Certainly in the last 10 years but even more since the financial crisis, and what we believe is a change in the paradigm through which users of legal services come to find their lawyers, we came to believe we needed a more robust marketing department, more integrated with strategic planning and practice groups,” Vajtay says.
Goldberg says lawyers have been receptive to the approach.
He spends a large portion of his time meeting with lawyers to look at where their work comes from, what companies or industries might provide new business opportunities, and how clients can be persuaded to use additional practice areas.
Goldberg’s duties also include helping the firm improve its “bench strength” by identifying practice areas that might be robust in one geographic area but less so in others, says Vajtay.
“I think the lawyers here are a very dedicated and service-oriented bunch. They need help developing their own business,” Goldberg says.
Goldberg graduated from Cornell University in 1989, where he earned a B.S. in journalism, public relations and advertising.
He was a field radio officer with the U.S. Marines from 1986-93 and graduated from Tulane University Law School in 1994, with a focus on environmental law.
From 1994-97, he worked as an in-house counsel at an environmental consulting company, moving to a job as a legal editor with Brownstone Publishers. In 2000, he joined Davis, Polk & Wardell as a business development manager and in 2001 went to real estate firm Grubb & Ellis as a regional marketing manager. In 2003 to 2006, Goldberg was a practice development manager at White & Case.
Goldberg then joined Herrick Feinstein as a marketing director and remained there until October 2010.
In November 2010, he joined Lowenstein Sandler as chief marketing officer and stayed until May of this year, when he joined McCarter.
Vajtay says Goldberg’s knowledge of the legal market in New Jersey and the Northeast was a plus, but the search was nationwide in scope and the fact that the candidate was from McCarter’s backyard was a coincidence.
He says Goldberg will relieve him of some responsibilities as the firm seeks to strengthen its foothold in its market, which extends from Boston to Wilmington, Del., and contemplates an expansion into Washington, D.C., where it has found “strong interest from potential targets.”
The firm also hasn’t foreclosed the idea of expanding to the west, Vajtay says.
Goldberg reports directly to him. “As managing partner, I’m kind of the muscle behind what he does,” says Vajtay. Goldberg also is a member of the firm’s marketing committee, which is composed of “senior, rainmaking partners,” Vajtay says.
Goldberg says he brings a bit of his experience in the Marines into his present job.
“The part of it that I take with me is the results-oriented approach. A lot of law firms just go through the motions.
“My approach is to pick a goal and come up with a means to achieve that goal,” says Goldberg.