March Luncheon – 4th Annual CMO Forum: Veteran Legal Marketers Discuss Their Careers, Building a Team

by Rosemarie Yu on April 1, 2016

“I fell into it,” responded all three panelists at the NYLMA’s 4th Annual CMO Forum: “How to Develop & Progress in Your Legal Marketing Career,” about how they got their start in legal marketing.

Discussing their marketing departments and their own careers were Dawn Gertz Longfield, Chief Marketing Officer, Davis & Gilbert LLP; Tammy Mangan, Chief Marketing Officer, Cole Schotz P.C.; and David McClune, Chief Marketing Officer, Shearman & Sterling LLP, at whose office the March 23rd event took place. Moderating this panel, which attracted a record-breaking 175 attendees, was Despina Kartson, Chief Business Development & Marketing Office at Morgan Lewis & Bockius LLP.

Mr. McClune reported that Shearman & Sterling’s marketing team totals about 70 strong around the globe, with a heavy concentration in New York. Mr. McClune prefers to keep his staff embedded with the practice groups they support rather than in a centralized location. By contrast, Cole Schotz with six offices and Davis & Gilbert with one employ significantly smaller teams, four and six respectively.

Despite having entered their respective careers by accident – Mr. McClune, for instance, hoped to segue his position to that of attorney before realizing that marketing was more enjoyable – all of the CMOs found their legal marketing jobs, with progressively increasing responsibility and challenges, to be interesting and rewarding enough to build their careers upon.  They each cited NYLMA as key to their success. “Being president of NYLMA gave me the confidence to take the next step in my career,” said Ms. Longfield, who was chapter president in 2002.

2016-03-23 CMO Forum (room)The skills that the panelists look for in new recruits include strong project management skills, good work ethic, confidence and a thick skin. “Measured ambition” was also a factor Mr. McClune looks for, commenting that, “ambition is good as long as it is used to attain something and not just for yourself.”

As for training, besides NYLMA sessions, which the panelists agreed are superb tools, Ms. Longfield often exposes her staff to different experiences, such as attending practice group meetings. Ms. Mangan likewise gives team members opportunities to present to the attorneys, with the added benefit of demonstrating their worth to the firm. Mr. McClune doesn’t discount the learning benefits of more casual interactions, such as grabbing a beer: “We try to spend time socially, to enjoy each other’s company.”

When asked what their greatest challenges were, Ms. Mangan pointed to the rapid pace of technology. “Things change so quickly, and I’m learning all the time. I find it hard to evaluate everything.” Ms. Longfield cited the long-standing issue of showing value to the firm. “I put together a four-hour presentation last year, giving senior management a high-level overview of what our department did and the value we brought to the firm.”

2016-03-23 CMO Forum (panelists on dais)

What are panel members biggest pet peeves? “Typos!” said Ms. Mangan, and, on a related note, “slow down and think things through. Don’t hurry through projects.” Ms. Longfield stressed that legal marketers should never assume what your boss or a lawyer wants: “If you don’t know, ask.”  Mr. McClune gets particularly irked when people rebadge other people’s work as their own: “It’s dishonest, and you’ll get caught out.”

As for the perennial question of how to demonstrate ROI to attorneys and firm management, Mr. McClune dismissed the notion: “You can measure ROI for consumer goods, but we deal with people. Our game is qualitative. You can’t measure intangible investments.”x

Rosemarie Yu is principal of Rosemarie Yu, LLC, a communications consultancy specializing in professional services based in New York.


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