With expansion in mind, Chartwell Law Offices has added a new title to its executive suite—chief marketing officer.
Sharen Nocella became the litigation firm’s first CMO on Monday, joining from Obermayer Rebmann Maxwell & Hippel. In her new role she will oversee marketing, public relations and business development strategies.
CEO Clifford Goldstein said the firm has reached the size, number of practice areas and geographic reach where it became necessary to have an executive-level professional leading its marketing efforts. Chartwell, based in Valley Forge, started with four lawyers in 2002. It now has 117 lawyers spread across 17 offices in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, New York, Massachusetts, Florida, Tennessee and Rhode Island, according to its website.
Even without a CMO, marketing has long been a central focus of firm leadership, Goldstein said. It’s part of why the firm chose its name, he noted. Instead of listing the names of founding partners, the firm’s title pays homage to the family home of Winston Churchill, the Chartwell House.
“From the day we opened the shop 15 years ago, one of our themes was that every lawyer has to market everyday,” Goldstein said. “This is not new for us. It’s just that we reached the critical mass where we had to get a higher level implementation of the program.”
The opportunity to serve in an executive-level capacity and influence the firm’s overall marketing program attracted Nocella to the job, she said.
“They are not your typical buttoned-up law firm. Their approach to business development is truly focused on the needs of the client,” Nocella said. “It’s very helpful if you get a seat at the table as a marketing director.”
Nocella was Obermayer Rebmann’s CMO for six years, and was the marketing director at Stradley Ronon Stevens & Young before that. At each of those firms, she was the first person to have her role. Between those two jobs, she worked outside the legal industry.
“She’s been at enough firms to see how others do it and what works and what doesn’t,” Goldstein said.
Nocella will work closely with Goldstein, and with the firm’s director of client relations, Dauna Doyle, the firm said. While Doyle will continue to focus on the communications and client-centered issues, she said, Nocella will handle the greater marketing strategy.
“A marketing team is essential for a law firm in these times,” Doyle said, noting the increased importance of social media and other digital media in law firm marketing.
As the firm grows, Goldstein said, it has added opportunities for cross-selling, and that requires some strategic assistance. The firm is looking to continue its expansion into new practice areas and geographical markets, Doyle said, but she declined to say where.
“We’ve expanded into a lot of new states, and pretty much the hallmark of Chartwell’s growth has been cross-marketing,” Goldstein said. “Cross-marketing is easy to talk about, but tough to do.”
That growth hasn’t been without its challenges. The firm is still facing ongoing litigation stemming from a group lateral hire in Fort Myers, Florida, and a failed merger with a smaller Miami-based firm.
“Although we endured a bit of a rocky course, the Florida offices are thriving,” Goldstein said.
Mathieu Shapiro, managing partner of Obermayer Rebmann, said the firm had a vacancy in the marketing director role for a while before Nocella joined, and that “she was the first really well-qualified and professional one” the firm had.
Shapiro said he wishes Nocella well in her new role. He said the firm is already seeking a new CMO.