Analysis of Legal Marketing and Business Development June 2014

Kate Harry ShiphamMarket Trends

By Kate Harry

From our position as market leaders in the legal marketing industry, we see a lot! Below are some themes we have come across in the past few months…

Market overview:


  • Legal marketing recruiting is active across the US, with most of our placements being in the following cities: Boston, Chicago, Dallas, DC, Houston, LA, NYC and San Francisco.
  • The West Coast did see a significant uptick in recent months, with one third of all our placements this year so far being in either San Francisco or LA.
  • Texas has also seen the rise of localized, satellite offices that hire start-up, often sole, marketing and business development roles for the first time. Establishing this function within newer offices and in competition to the long-established Texan firms will prove interesting to watch over the next couple of years.
  • The bigger cities, NYC, Chicago and DC, still see a lot of movement in legal marketing, with many firms competing for the very best talent. Firms are bolstering their teams with good quality juniors, mid-level managers and strategic marketing project managers who are able to drive and manage all marketing and business development efforts and initiatives.


  • Firms are seeking Managers who possess several years of formal and direct people management skills, but we see a significant gap in legal marketers with people management skills. Most managers are not exposed to this responsibility in their current firms, being a Manager of projects, but not people. We will keep our eye on how this is to be reconciled in years to come. Some people are being particularly savvy on this front and are seeking out management opportunities in other areas, such as their LMA committees and not for profit associations that they are involved in.
  • Only a handful of firms are starting to recognize that their marketing teams need professional development training, and are offering management training on topics including business writing, budgeting, and project management.
  • There seems to be a relatively even split between firms seeking strategic marketing and business development roles. Often these two types of positions significantly overlap, but the differentiator for a business development role is the true partnership between a business developer and their attorneys and partners. Attorneys are asking for business-savvy, proactive and ‘big-picture’ strategists to actually advise them to increase their bottom line.

At the top

  • The “Chief” and “Director” titles are starting to attract a more diverse talent pool, which is being driven by the law firms who are looking for a different perspective.
  • Gone are the days where firms seek yet another marketer who has done the same thing in five different firms. Re-branding, re-positioning and challenging internal cultural norms are just a few of the key experiences that the top Am Law firms are looking for in today’s market.
  • Skills learned outside of the legal world, along with solid strategy initiatives and strong leadership capabilities are highly sought after. Enthusiasm and energy within these top roles, which filters down, cannot be overstated.

Added headcount to support growth:


  • Manager and Senior Manager roles are still the most common additions to the marketing and business development teams. Most roles we work on are added headcount to keep up with the demands of the attorneys in our overly-competitive legal world.
  • Salaries for Manager roles in most markets typically start at $100k and can go as high as $160k for some roles. Senior Manager salaries typically start at $150k and can go into the low $200s. Markets such as NYC, DC and San Francisco are where we are seeing the upper ends of these ranges; this is becoming necessary to attract the best talent into their firms. We have a supply and demand issue in our industry – lots of jobs and not enough talent to go around. Firms are realizing that they must compensate competitively to get the best to say yes.
  • Managers typically have around seven years of experience and, depending on the title and firm, professionals can step into that role with as little as five years experience. Most strategic, proactive, business development focused roles, however, require at least seven years of experience. Partners need to have confidence in their business partners; humble confidence, respect, diplomacy and gravitas are as important as the technical and strategic abilities a person brings into the role.

How qualified?

  • Additional qualifications, such as a JD, MBA or Masters, are not expected.
  • While some candidates can differentiate themselves with these elite qualifications, most firms do not request these additional credentials and don’t expect candidates to bring these into the role.

Lateral moves

  • With the Manager title including experience anywhere from 5-15 years, lateral moves in title are more and more common. People are starting to look at the opportunity (i.e. the firm, team, culture, leaders, and salary) ahead of the title when considering opportunities.
  • Common lateral moves on title are when small firm marketers want to step up into bigger firms, or into a firm with a true global footprint or industry specialty.

Small firm or big firm?

  • When it comes to smaller firms, they are giving bigger firms a run for their money when it comes to their marketing efforts.
  • We recently commissioned a survey with ALM which showed that three in four small and mid-sized law firms are making significant investments in formalized marketing programs, thus increasing the firm’s bottom line revenue.  Click HERE to view the survey results.

Stay or go?

  • Good initiatives, good mentors and encouraging firm statistics and growth keep good talent staying at their firms.
  • More and more people place significant importance on the CMO and Director and their approach in their firms and value in the industry more generally; people are becoming conscious about these factors and whether they align with their own work values and goals.
  • Gaining people management skills and new challenges (not wanting to ‘cap out’ in current roles) are mostly what entices people to move.

For the second half of 2014?

The rise of strategy roles:

  • Regardless of whether the focus is marketing, communications or business development, very proactive and strategic minds are being rewarded in these positions.
  • And even further, if a marketer can show their worth / value, they are the ones who get promoted and rewarded the most. We all know that partners respond best to facts and figures and evidence; so tracking projects, initiatives and the success of these are how people are proving their worth and being rewarded.

Project managers:

  • People who can successfully manage projects while keeping all the parts moving are what teams are looking to add right now.
  • Many people often describe their day as following up, ticking things off their task list and keeping people on track. This is now par for the course and managing up, down and sideways on all tasks is critical to success.

Managers who have the mix of title and people management experience:

  • Managers who have people management experience, along with the title for several years, are highly sought after people right now and firms pay generously for the holy grail of both.