Flurry of CMO Moves Shakes Up Law Firm Marketing Departments

In a burst of hiring activity, several major law firms have named new chief marketing officers in recent weeks. While CMO hires and departures are constant in Big Law, observers point to an unusual level of turnover.

In just the last two months, Hogan Lovells; Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison; Stroock Stroock & Lavan; and Akerman have all added new chief marketing officers, after chief marketers left Fried, Frank, Harris, Shriver & Jacobson; Shearman & Sterling; Fox Rothschild; and Williams & Connolly.

While the CMO search market has been relatively quiet the last couple of years, “it has definitely picked up in the last nine months,” said Amanda Brady, a Major, Lindsey & Africa recruiter for law firm executives and business directors. She said the activity may be due to firms rethinking their business and market strategies as well as new law firm leaders looking for CMOs to implement their plans.

Brady said while she recommends firm leaders consider candidates from outside the legal industry to hear new perspectives, she encourages clients not to stray too far.

“I will generally only encourage clients to consider ‘non-law firm’ candidates from other professional services firms. It’s the closest you can get to the law firm culture and an environment in which you are supporting smart and demanding, high revenue generators,” she said.

As the position’s responsibilities have shifted, Brady said, tenures of law firm CMOs have actually lengthened over the last decade, pointing to average tenures of about four years now.

Brady partly credited this to a transition away from more traditional marketing and communications to a focus on business development. “Now most firms employ marketing and [business development] professionals who can help the firm, select practices and even [help] specific attorneys develop and improve client relationships,” she said.

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