You have heard of law firms and you have heard of marketing. But have you ever heard of the two together? Today we’re talking about marketing at a law firm.
When people think marketing, most people don’t think of working in marketing at a law firm. But, it is just as important as marketing everywhere else! If you are looking to go into marketing, this niche may be one for you to consider. I spoke with a fellow millennial who works in marketing at a law firm, and here is what he had to say about it.
Career Expert Interview: Marketing At A Law Firm
Most people probably don’t even realize that marketing is a component of law firms, too. Can you describe what marketing looks like at a law firm?
I work in a type of law firm that belongs to what they call “Big Law”, they are historically New York and London based, with global footprints, long histories, and primarily work in and with the financial services ecosystems. Marketing is complex in big law, because we have a very storied brand name behind us, but much of our work is about supporting individual partners and subject matter experts.
We aren’t out buying TV ads or billboard, but we spend a great deal of time making sure our partners get speaking and writing opportunities on the complex legal topics they are expert on. We also interface with the press to talk about what we are accomplishing on behalf of our clients.
Lastly, a large part of our job is helping the lawyers respond to specific requests from clients for RFPs (Request For Proposals) for the kinds of legal support we offer. A great deal of this work is around “why you should pick us” over several similar competitors.
How is marketing at a law firm different from marketing at other places you have worked at?
Two primary differences. The first, is that it’s way more targeted. The “audience” for the kinds of highly-complex, highly-technical, and honestly, very expensive, legal advice we offer is very, very specific.
This is actually an upside for a smart marketer, because you can really see the results of targeting if you dive in and understand who actually “buys” the legal services we offer from each of our different practice groups. It also frees you up as a marketer from the various “numbers games” we sometimes have to play.
Our lawyers would rather have the right 10 people in a virtual event than 100 general contacts. That one right person influenced by our marketing could lead to a seven-figure amount of business.
The other primary difference is leaning into thought-leadership marketing. Since the lawyers and their audiences are all highly-educated and have to read and write a great deal in the course of their day jobs, they look towards white-papers, case studies, and articles to really drive their marketing efforts even more than is customary in other B2B settings I’ve been in, and typically they are really naturally quite good at it.
What is it like walking in the “law world” when you are not a lawyer?
That’s a great question. It’s both exhilarating and daunting. I work mostly with M&A lawyers, who keep tough hours and work to the demands of whatever deals they are trying to close.
They bring that same imperative energy into their marketing, which is really quite a boost as a marketer. But, you also need to be able to keep up with them.
I spend every morning reading the same trade and industry news that they subscribe to, so that I can at least keep pace, and keep “business literate” with what is going on in their world, with their clients, and of course with their goals.
Did you always want to go into marketing at a law firm?
I didn’t even really know much about it until a recruiter who works only in legal marketing connected with me. She explained the culture, the demands, the growth opportunities and matched it to my background and skills.
Recruiters are often lazy or not well resourced, or they don’t actually understand the roles and companies they recruit for. This woman, however, has built a tremendous reputation in our industry, and could coach me and speak authentically about the role and the firm.
If someone is interested in a marketing position at a law firm, how would you recommend they go about finding the job?
Entry-level jobs are common in our industry, usually marketed as a “Coordinator”. The Legal Marketing Association maintains a great job bank.
You’ll need to highlight that you can thrive in a very demanding and fast-paced environment, that your reading and writing skills are excellent, and that you have some intellectual interest in what we do as a firm (read some of our latest press releases, or summaries of our firm written for law students like on vault.com or AmLaw.com).
These are excellent positions for people who are coming out of school with liberal arts degrees/educations. We need good writers who can think critically.
What’s the biggest piece of advice you would give to someone who is interested in marketing at a law firm?
Know and understand the business. I only work with three of our 12 or so practice groups, and I make it my business to understand everything that they are doing/working on, their key clients, and the macroeconomic forces impacting what they do.
That way they see me as a peer and team member, and come to me for advice, not just the “marketing guy” who can get them a press release when needed.
What’s one thing about working at a law firm that would surprise most people?
We spend long, long hours working together. Most of the lawyers have great senses of humor that took me aback a bit when I started. They often joke around in a very dry way since they have spent decades “in the trenches” together.
What’s one thing about marketing that would surprise most people?
I do more writing now than when I was in grad school!
Knowing more about a career in marketing at a law firm, is this a career path that sounds interesting? Leave any questions below!