This blog post will be the first in a series of three posts covering:
(1) How to hire a law firm marketing director (directed to law firm partners),
(2) How to train your law firm marketing director (directed to law firm administrators), and
(3) How to be a good law firm marketing director (directed to the actual marketer).
What is a law firm marketing director?
During my 15+ years in the legal industry, I have had the opportunity to observe what law firm marketing means to different people. Let’s be honest – some firms hire attractive females (sometimes lawyers, sometimes not) to attend social events and “network” in the hopes of obtaining referrals. To me, that is not a real marketing director, and in some cases this has stigmatized those of us with legitimate marketing backgrounds.
Law firms are reluctant to make a solid financial investment in an in-house marketing employee in favor of hiring a part time “marketer” or making one of their existing staff work overtime on something they know nothing about. That being said, more and more firms contact me on a regular basis to help them find and hire someone to handle their social media marketing, manage their marketing vendors, host events, and more.
Larger law firms generally do seek out and hire staff with real marketing experience to add value to their bottom line via digital marketing and new case intake. If your firm spends significant dollars on marketing its business, you should have at least one full-time employee in-house dedicated to monitoring the effectiveness of your expenditures.
If your law firm is considering hiring a new staff member to oversee marketing, please take the time to read my suggestions below.
Five Things to Look for When Hiring a Law Firm Marketing Director
- Law firm experience – If you can find someone with previous law firm marketing experience and the corresponding reference from that employer, that goes a long way toward establishing credibility as a legal services marketer.
- Marketing experience – Yes, your marketing candidates should actually have some marketing experience. If you can’t find someone with legal marketing experience, the next best option is an individual with professional services marketing experience, such as marketing for doctors or accountants. After that, look for marketers who have served the industries within which you target clients (i.e. construction company marketing staff for a firm practicing construction law), as they will have invaluable industry connections and insider knowledge.
- Professional workplace experience – If a marketer has only worked in an agency environment with little face-to-face client interaction or a has only worked in a casual workplace, that may make the candidate the wrong fit for a law firm or other professional corporate setting.
- Phone voice – Law firm marketing is more than just sitting behind a desk working on the digital side. A good law firm marketing director is constantly building relationships for the firm, going out in public, networking, and the like. If the candidate does not have a clear, articulate phone presence, they will not be as successful at developing the business side of your law practice.
- Writing samples – All law firm marketing directors can and should be excellent writers. My personal background is in public relations journalism with subsequent law school – and I use my writing skills every hour of every workday. Require each candidate to provide writing samples from blogs, social media channels, and technical copywriting. If they do not have any, you can also provide them with test topics from which to execute content. Grade them. Their writing will be the voice of your law firm.
After moving away from litigation, I served as both a lawyer and law firm marketing director for over six years. I have also hired and fired for positions including marketing and intake for over 10 years, so I consider myself somewhat of an expert on resumes, personalities in the workplace, and interviewing. If your law firm wants to hire someone in-house to manage its marketing, I can help. If your law firm wants to forego the overhead cost of adding another employee, and you want to outsource the management of your legal marketing, I can help there, too.