The ramblings of a law firm marketer Crossing the divide from the corporate world to a partnership

October 19, 2017


I’m no different from many others, I have followed a path that has exposed me to ‘stuff’ that has helped shape my career.  I have had some wonderful opportunities and experiences – including having one of the largest Google marketing budgets in the UK in the early “noughties” that helped shape my experience and approach to marketing – online and offline.  More recently I worked as the Marketing Director in two law firms, both in the South, both mid-sized regional firms.  Both are good, progressive and growing firms, with a strong focus on building relationships and developing and maintaining a strong culture within their firms. 


Prior to joining the legal sector, I spent twenty years in financial services, starting in a graduate role that let me experience ‘business’ from the bottom up.  I spent a good few months doing basic, repetitive tasks.  I learned HOW to work with colleagues, how to be humble, how to be a ‘good’ employee, what I liked and didn’t like about work practices and work environments and I saw first-hand the impact that technology had on businesses as it first hit the front line in delivery of services in the late 1980’s and early 1990’s. 


A slight aside, I am a self-confessed ‘techie’ fan, my first computer was an Amstrad CPC464, my 18th birthday present and my pride and joy for several years.  My love of technology has continued through the years and has resulted in me having an avid interest in how technology can enable business in every sense. And yes, I do have most of the ‘latest’ gadgets!


I had opportunities, none of them fell into my lap, I had to work for them all and I had to be prepared to be brave and proactive, and consistent and creative.  Not easy for someone whose biggest skills were being ‘logical’ and a bit of a control freak!  But on reflection, that’s what stood me in the best light, I applied a logical approach and I took responsibility for everything I did.


I am not an agency – digital or otherwise, or a specialist PR company or some other support function – I’ve worked with them all and I’ve also had to manage on tight budgets and had to apply a DIY and creative approach to achieve results.  I’ve had wonderful successes and spectacular failures – and I’ve learned from them all and applied my learnings to what I do.


I am a real law firm marketer – I earned my stripes the ‘hard way’, at the coal face and I am now fortunate enough to be able to share the best practices I have developed throughout my 30-year career. 


Clare - the law firm marketer


So, I joined ‘the law firm marketer’ brigade in 2007 after exactly 20 years in the world of financial services.


I was ready for this new sector; my experience had covered both B2B and B2C marketing.  I ‘gave up’ a job managing one of the UK’s largest online marketing budgets to join my first law firm.  My experience of working at 3 different large national organisations, in pretty senior marketing and business development roles, meant I was ideally placed to support this leading regional law firm and help it develop its marketing.


Well I was right and I was wrong. 


My experience, skills, knowledge and ‘know how’ with regard to the marketing were certainly perfect.  My appreciation and understanding of the culture and day to day management and running of a law firm, operating as a typical partnership, was lacking.  I hadn’t fully appreciated how much this would affect my ability to get things done.


Why does this matter in the context of law firm marketing?

Well it matters because if you are new to the legal sector, you need to understand the mechanics of how a partnership operates and you need to adapt HOW you work within the business and your expectations around getting buy in and decisions around moving things forward. 


None of my comments are negative about the traditional partnership structure, they are just an honest appraisal of a significant difference that will affect how every marketer goes about their job – effectively.

It’s actually a very rewarding experience when you secure the buy in of many stakeholders to your marketing plans and activities.  As against a traditional corporate structure, you will most likely need to secure wider buy in for all your marketing efforts at the start. 


That’s not such a bad thing – clarity about what you are doing, what is to be expected and potential outcomes is helpful.  It also helps to have constructive ‘sign off’ discussions at the outset and helps you consider carefully all the relevant aspects before committing to an activity or plan. 


In short – you learn to become very well prepared before you even take an idea or a plan to the table.  The lawyers in your law firm will help develop your skills of persuasion and your ability to make a good case for any activities or initiatives you want to implement.  You will develop, if you don’t already have it, a very meticulous habit which is a pretty decent habit to have!


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