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| 35 minutes read

CMO Series EP50 - Celebrating 50 episodes with our picks from the past year

We’re celebrating 50 episodes of the CMO Series podcast with a bumper edition featuring some of the key themes and conversations we’ve had with the world’s top legal Marketing and Business Development leaders over the past year. From the rise of ESG to closer client collaboration, we’ve delved into the most pressing topics on the agenda for legal marketing and BD professionals today.

Step behind the scenes with the Passle team as we discuss some of the key moments of the CMO Series so far, including:

  • The evolution of legal marketing featuring Norm Rubenstein Partner at Zeughauser Group and Catherine Zinn, Chief Client Officer at Baker Botts 
  • ESG and the role of marketing with Tamara Costa National Director, Brand and Marketing Communications at BLG
  • Business development focused client collaboration with Julia Bennett, Chief Marketing Officer at Brown Rudnick 
  • Deep dives into successful legal marketing campaigns featuring Sophie Bowkett, Chief Marketing Officer at Bird & Bird
  • How to build a career in legal marketing with Sadie Baron, Chief Marketing Officer at Reed Smith and European President of the Legal Marketing Association  

Subscribe to the CMO Series via Spotify, Apple Podcasts or Google Podcasts and be the first to hear the next instalment where Eugene McCormick has the pleasure of sitting down with Gillian Ward, Global Chief Marketing Officer at Bryan Cave Leighton Paisner (BCLP).

Coming up in the next few episodes we are so lucky to welcome Erin Dimry, Chief Marketing and Business Development Officer at DLA Piper, Archana Venkat, Chief Marketing Officer at Trilegal and Kelly Harbour, Chief Business Development Officer at Goulston Storrs.


Intro: Welcome to the Passle Podcast CMO series.

Charlie: Hello, and welcome to the Passle CMO series Podcast. We're here to talk about all things professional services, marketing and business development. I'm Charlie, Digital Marketing and Content Executive here at Passle, and on this special episode of the podcast, we're very excited to mark the 50th edition of the series by celebrating some of our favourite moments from the past year. We're going to highlight just a few of the key themes and ongoing conversations at the forefront of legal marketing and BD right now. We started the series a year ago as a way to share some of the unique insights from our conversations with the world's top marketing and BD leaders. 50 episodes in, we're still uncovering fascinating insights into the world of legal marketing and wanted to reflect on some of those conversations with you today. So to kick things off, I'd like to pick out a key theme we've heard lots about, and that's the evolution of legal marketing. We've explored many perspectives on this theme from Jennifer Griffin Scotten of Brooks Pierce, who is challenging the assumptions around law firms BD capabilities, and Bree Metherall of Stoel Rives, who talked about the importance of asking why. But two episodes that stand out to me on this subject are the conversations we had with Norm Rubenstein of Zeughauser Group, whose incredible career spans over three decades, and Catherine Zinn, Chief Client Officer at Baker Botts, who spoke to us very candidly about the changing role of marketing and BD in influencing the direction of the firm. So we're going to play a couple of those snippets.

Norm: The most successfully competitive firms are the ones who appreciate that in every engagement, in every exchange and every interaction with a client or a prospect, what they're really doing is demonstrating why they're the right firm for the job. And so I think it's why so much of the legal, marketing and business development activity in law firms has shifted away from pure visibility raising to demonstrations of the expertise that they bring to the table. So for me, if I were looking for symbols on a timeline, I would say if we go back a decade or two or three, it was entertaining your client on a golf course or over a dinner. If you fast forward to today, it's engaging in some piece of significant thought leadership that you provide to that client, which underscores why you're a market leader in the activity, which is driving their need for outside counsel.

Catherine: So I do believe that our profession has moved to the centre of business and decision making, and we have linked arms with the leadership of our firms and organisations. So why has that happened? In my view, there are three things that come to mind: increased competition in the market. It used to be that our lawyers could sit at their desk and the phone would ring. We know that that time is long gone by. So what needed to happen is that in order to compete, we need to do some things differently. And it meant that marketing and business development professionals became more valued within their organisations. And I will say, too, that I believe that I'm speaking of many of my colleagues at places all around the world. We got good at it, and that's why you see our function clearly having a seat at that table. And I might add, in my personal experience, I do believe that my having had direct client contact with general counsels, with other influencers for me, particularly in the tech and energy sectors, I believe that that helps accelerate my understanding of how to be useful to the people around me. The organisations that are successful are going to be with everybody in every department firing on all cylinders and that we absolutely cannot work in silos, which means that people in my role need to truly sit alongside the CEO or managing partner and COO of their organisations. And that's not an ego thing. If you are going to make your mark, you have to be right there in the eye of the storm, working alongside the leaders. You can't be sitting outside the arena. And I would say that there's one thing that, frankly, I would have changed personally in order to accelerate my own usefulness in the boardroom or in the arena. And I think you'll see more and more of this in our roles. I wish I had found humility earlier. Ali, I need help. I need help from the people around me that I just named. I need help from mentors, and specifically, Ali, I need the Passle’s of the world. We need third party advisers and service providers and consultants and vendors. A vendor is a good thing. A great vendor is a great thing. We need people and organisations to assist us in better understanding our data and having a CRM that is lighting up the boards for us and a variety of other people who are great at what they do to help us compete. So I do think that you're going to see more and more third parties being critical to the success of the law firms that will thrive.

Charlie: I'd like to welcome Ali Bone to the podcast who spoke to both Norm and Catherine there. Thanks for joining me, Ali.

Ali: Thanks very much for having me on, Charlie. It's a pleasure to be here. And slightly different sitting on the other side of the table, actually being the one interviewed as opposed to doing the interviewing.

Charlie: Yeah, I can imagine. Thanks for joining us. So, a couple of fantastic insights there from both Norm and Catherine. Clearly two very different backgrounds, but both making similar points about that transforming role of professional services, marketing and business development. So what were your key takeaways from those conversations?

Ali: As you say, both Norm and Catherine have a huge amount of experience. They come with it from slightly different angles. Norm has sort of had multiple decades within the industry. He's been a CMO himself and now sits on more of a consultancy basis, so he's seen it from both sides. Catherine obviously slightly more of a traditional route to her position as Chief Client Officer. And she's also brought a huge amount of her previous background, which is heavily involved in sport, into that. So really bringing her mindset to. And it's really interesting that both of them came at the angle that actually it's about relationships. I think it's very easy for people to get away from that in terms of what they're doing in that marketing and business development role, but fundamentally, it's about managing relationships, be that with their key stakeholders internally, all the clients, ultimately they're the most important people as well for each of these individuals that you're engaging with. And when talking with both of them, I think really what kind of came through that, where people are getting the most out of the marketing and business development functions is where it started to be centred in the firm. It's becoming that live blood and it's incredibly important for Fern in terms of moving forward. And I know Catherine spoke about how important it was, start linking arms with the leadership, really linking arms with the other C suite roles. And actually, there's never been more of an important time than now to have that collaboration across the board to ensure that fundamentally you're doing the best that you can for the firm. And Norm touched on very similar points where he discussed it, obviously, I just mentioned it, but about the marketing function forming the lifeblood and actually those firms that he sees doing the best really do have their marketing BD functions at the very centre of what they're doing. So ultimately, I think it's just about that big shift that's happening. It's gone from maybe just that traditional marketing to actually having a seat at the table, being incredibly strategic in what you're doing, because ultimately it's about driving that revenue, about getting the most out of the client experience. Again, both in touch on getting involved with those clients. So I appreciate that's probably a bit of a long winded answer, but there was so much synergy about what they were both saying that I felt like I had to give a bit of a decent overview of that.

Charlie: No, that's brilliant. Thank you, Ali. And yeah, I think it really kind of captured the essence of both of those conversations. And I noticed that both Norm and Catherine talked about the use of technology in being key to legal marketing and BD nowadays. So, from your conversations with both Norm, Catherine and other CMOS, do you think technology is something CMOs are keen to embrace or is there still some resistance when it comes to using technology and more of a reliance on that traditional in person approach?

Ali: I think that's a really good question, actually. It's not an easy one to one. I'm probably going to sit in the middle, as I do. I think fundamentally, CMOs and CBDOs are all looking to embrace technology and find the ones that are going to be really good for them. And as other firms in general, I think there's been a massive shift with the pandemic. Traditionally, I'm definitely not the first to say this, but law firms, professional services lagged massively behind on that technology curve and they've all had to catch up really quickly. So there's been this big leap and I think, yes, there's that wanting to embrace it, but I think a lot of the resistance can actually be coming from the partnership that unknown of getting involved with something that formerly you've been able to go about doing your business development by the phone ringing. Catherine spoke about that, Norm spoke about that. The traditional methods of going out there and having that client entertainment. And actually, yes, it still exists. There's no doubt about it. As mentioned in the previous answer, it's a relationship job, but people have to be far more strategic and bespoke in what they're doing. And that's where I think technology is starting to come in. So, as I said, I think there's a real balance that's being struck here. I think to quote Norm when you're kind of considering this, he said, there is an unequivocal difference between those who appreciate your firm marketing and those who don't, and the way that it's forming that lifeblood. So actually bringing in the likes of third parties and pieces of technology that seen us to enhance the firm, those marketing and business development functions that are seen as the centre of what they're doing are going to be able to implement that a lot easier than maybe some of the others who might feel that they're sat slightly outside of the arena, to quote Catherine. One of the things she spoke about a lot was that seat at the table and how important it is to be right at the centre of everything that you're doing. Working closely with the CEO. Working closely with managing partners. And both Norm and Catherine spoke about being seen as a trusted advisor. But also being treated in the same way that you'd want to treat your clients. So I guess it's a rather long way of saying that, yes, I think they want to embrace that technology is about potentially the resistance that they're seeing within the firms themselves.

Charlie: Yeah, that makes sense and very well answered there. Thank you. So finally, Ali, did you have a favourite piece of advice or take away from either of those conversations?

Ali: I'm going to steal what I know Katie Cramond recently said in her podcast, which is sort of almost the power of three. I've got three bits there, Charlie. First of all, what really struck me again, it relates to the whole theme of relationships and maybe that's something more about me than otherwise. But Norm spoke about how fundamentally, whether you're a CMO, CBDO, Chief Client Officer, whatever your title might be, sitting at the pinnacle there that you're never judged by what you did, but by the team that you assemble and what that achieves collaboratively. So I think that's a really interesting point. Catherine made quite a similar point as well around how it's that tone at the top and ultimately, talent is king and queen. So by having that great mindset, the confidence and humility, that's what's going to drive success for you. And actually from a completely different podcast, but something that really resonated with me. And I think the way that I like to approach things, Dave Bruns final sign off on his piece of advice was find your joy. And I think that's fantastic because actually, if you're enjoying what you do, both from a work perspective, but also if you're looking to do good BD or marketing and you get enjoyment on that golf course or from a culture perspective, going to the theatre, whatever it might be, then ultimately you're going to drive success from that. So those would be my three. I hope you haven't taken too much time on that answer.

Charlie: No, that's brilliant. Thank you. And I love that last note to end on there. Find your joy. That's brilliant. Well, thanks for joining me, Ali. It's really great to talk to you.

Ali:  Absolute pleasure. It's nice to be on, albeit short and sharp. It's amazing how much prep has to go into this.

Charlie: Yeah. What goes on behind the scenes. Thanks, Ali. Let's talk about another topic on the lips of every CMO at the moment, and that's ESG and the role of marketing. We were lucky enough to hear from Tamara Costa, National Director, brand and Marketing Communications at BLG on this subject. So let's take a listen to what Tamara had to say.

Tamara: The framework really has to be measurable and aligned to what increasingly savvy clients are asking. So green washing won't work. It used to be that slapping words on the wall related to purpose or firm values would be sufficient, but that no longer holds. So measurable action, accountability and transparency are essential in the post Covid era. I would say that another common challenge is that change is typically not easy to implement at law firms, so there are always issues of authority and status and power, sometimes referred to as politics. And changemakers must be prepared for some friction in order to move things forward and really serve the firm's higher interest. This takes conviction and determination and also finesse. But the good news is that these are traits that strong legal marketers already exemplify and implement every day. So I really believe that it's the questions that come from within the firm, from our people as well as from our clients, that will really drive this, because of their focus, desire for transparency and accountability in these areas. And I think we've all seen that the power is shifting. We've seen examples in the media of employees at global firms who have come together and challenged their firm's commitment and lack of alignment on certain issues. And I expect this to continue as individuals and groups use their platforms to share their experiences and hold others accountable. As I mentioned earlier, there are already larger global clients who are asking specific questions about our practices and values as a firm. So we really need to be clear about our ESG initiatives. And also, I think this is becoming increasingly important for talent recruitment and retention because I think people want to work at organisations that both understand the importance of these issues but also take them seriously. So really, it's just imperative to be authentic, transparent and follow through on everything that we say and do as a firm.

Charlie: So welcome to the podcast. Charles Cousins. A fascinating conversation with Tamara there on what is really a hot topic right now.

Charles: Absolutely, and it's definitely something we've picked up on a lot in recent months, actually. We attended the PSMG Summit back in April, which is all about ESG and how firms can really start creating those strategies and being held accountable for their practices. We heard heaps of firms talking about how clients are now demanding sort of evidence of their ESG claims and RFPs and pitches. So it's really an area that's front of mind for most of the marketing and BD leaders.

Charlie: Yeah, and Tamara mentioned during that conversation that firms are increasingly being questioned about their ESG practices. So it must be important to make sure that the whole firm is really aligned when it comes to their values.

Charles: Yeah, and that's something that I think firms are aware of. I loved how Tamara put it. She talks about being transparent and authentic, and I think that's so important for firms to reflect their values through their ESG practices and not get caught up in green washing. And from the conversations I've had, I think firm leaders are really keen to get it right, but there's also sometimes a lack of experience and expertise in knowing what the practical steps are. And actually at the PSMG I think it was one of the chaps from Irwin Mitchell, they talked about how actually they had to look externally, and they recently hired a head of Responsible Business to come in from an external company, and they've sort of brought them in house at Irwin Mitchell to help with what they're trying to do.

Charlie: Yeah, that's really interesting, isn't it? It's such an in depth topic that I think it's quite easy to get lost in it. And it obviously covers the environmental side of things, which a lot of people talk about. But of course, there's the social side of things and how firms are representing and looking after their people as well. And of course, that covers diversity and inclusion. We had Alessandra Almeida Jones, Director of Marketing at Baker McKenzie on the podcast back last year in August, she spoke about the challenges around that, particularly promoting their D&I work across the different geographies that make up the firm’s global footprint.

Charles: Yeah, I mean there's always going to be a challenge and I guess as Alessandra talked about, there's lots of factors and barriers to overcome when rolling these initiatives out on a global scale. Obviously you've got different jurisdictions, different geographies and different ways of doing things, so it's quite hard to have the same view across all of those different places. So I guess you have got to be mindful of the different regions and how to do it differently in those areas.

Charlie: Yeah, absolutely. So lots of food for thought there and certainly a conversation I think will be continuing for some time now as firm leaders navigate those changes. But we can spend hours delving into the layers of ESG, likely to be an ongoing area that we'll be coming back to again and again. So thanks for coming on, Charles.

Charles: Hey, no problem.

Charlie: We've explored loads of aspects of client collaboration when it comes to business development. We heard from Julie Henson from Taft Law about building more productive client relationships. Dave Southern spoke to us recently about closer client collaboration and Kathryn Whitaker of Burr & Forman talked about aligning marketing and BD activities with your firm's overall strategy from a data perspective. Sarah-Jane Howitt of Weightmans spoke to us about what real data driven BD looks like and Kalisha Crawford of Ropers Majeski shared her experience in making the most of the data you have available. But a conversation that I think really resonated with our audience was with Julia Bennett, CMO at Brown Rudnick, who talked about the missing piece in client relationships. So let's take a listen to what Julia had to say.

Julia: Consumer brands have done a really good job of making connections with consumers, building evangelists, and we sort of thought that that was just for consumer brands and didn't really live in the world of professional services at B2B. But the truth is that I think what we are missing is that emotional connection with our clients and I think we have to sort of reset and remember that our client is the corporation we serve or the organisation we serve. But our client is also the individual in the legal department or in the CFO's office who were supporting and helping to solve the legal issues on behalf of their company. And those individuals have professional aspirations and goals that we are in a really good position to help them hit. And I think that's where the shift has to come in. We've really focused on being trusted advisors to the companies, but maybe now it's time to go to the next level and become more allies for the individuals as well. I think that what we should all be doing and this is something I challenge myself to do and would encourage others to do is to constantly be the voice of the client. But what I mean by that, if I could take it a little deeper, is to remind our partners that the clients are also human beings, to model for them to help them not to be afraid to try to build those personal connections and establish the emotional connection with the client.

Charlie: I'd like to welcome Will Eke to the podcast who spoke to Julia there. Hi, Will. How's it going?

Will: Hey, Charlotte. All good? Yeah, excited to be on. Shoe's on the other foot, so interesting.

Charlie: Thanks for coming on. So, yeah, it's really interesting listening back to what Julia had to say about that missing piece in client relationships and that human kind of emotional connection with the clients on an individual level. There seems to be a shift in that approach when it comes to BD. Is that something you've kind of heard about speaking to other CMOs?

Will: Yeah, I mean, Julie is quite interesting because actually the emotional connection for her is quite personable as well. She's got lots of friends that are lawyers in house, so she is probably ahead of the curve in the fact that she has a sort of cohort of friends that are also lawyers where she can have these sort of meetings with them and say, what are you guys talking about? So she's definitely ahead of the curve. But it's something that is a theme that's quite strong with a lot of the CMOs, especially in the states that I've spoken to Angela Quinn at Husch Blackwell, who we've had on the podcast, they built a whole extravaganza, one week extravaganza for the firm called The Power of One. It's on our podcast, check it out. But she essentially talks about the whole aim of it is to get closer to the clients again and how they can build these relationships. And interestingly, she talks about that to do that, first of all, you need to build internal relationships. So the BD and marketing teams, part of what they were trying to do at Husch Blackwell is to get closer to the lawyers so that they're all on one page. And then, of course, they've got this uniform approach to then go to the clients, which makes absolute sense. There's another sort of teaser for a podcast coming up, but there's a Canadian law firm that I spoke to recently, their head of BD there, his points are exactly the same. You need to have this emotional connection. But he also talks about how to get closer to clients. And because they're a smaller law firm, he reckons they're ahead of the curve because they're more agile. But his whole role is to build that relationship and make the first connection to the clients or prospects, because actually, he feels like it's the missing piece that lawyers don't always have in their armoury. It's not always first of mind to make an emotional connection. They normally want to talk about the technical aspects and talk about ‘the law’. That's what they normally paid for.

Charlie: Yeah, no, that makes sense. What do you think from those conversations is really driving this change and this different kind of approach and way of doing things? Is it something bigger? Is it the macro factors that influence this? Or is it really just the way the market is going?

Will: I think there's a few factors that I'm hearing that are quite interesting. One, of course, COVID has played a big part of this, the lockdowns. There's been a lot of noise, there was a lot of content created and a lot of it was quite generic, let's be honest, from many areas, not just in law, but law firms are guilty of it as well. So those that have done it well have realised, okay, we do need to show that authenticity, we need to show empathy and we've got to show the human side. You know, our clients and our lawyers are going through the same thing. Everyone was going through lockdowns at the same time, same trials and tribulations, just have a normal conversation. So I think it stemmed from that. They also couldn't have a normal conversation, actually. They couldn't go to the golf course where they normally go, or  to their lunches. So how do they do that? They had zoom conversations, but they also could give advice in different ways that they're not used to. Things like LinkedIn, things like these personable emails where they've actually showcased expertise in an authentic manner. Really quite powerful to do that. The other thing is, if law firms are doing it, how do you sort of cut through that? So they've realised they have to be different, they have to stand out. The other thing I think that's quite important, and I know this personally because I'm in a commercial role. So the point being, if you do well one year and you sell lots of things similar to how law firms have actually done very well out of COVID. There's no denying the fact that their turnover has gone through the roof. Their profit per equity partner has gone up as a result of the wages. What that actually means on a granular level is their targets have gone up. If I sell loads of stuff the year after, my target is going to go up. It's the same with lawyers. So what they've realised is, again, right, where's this going to come from? Because I've heard from various CMOs candidly that it could be a 50% 60% increase on their particular targets. So what they've had to do is then work out where that money is going to come from and that's going to come from existing clients. So hence they again need to have those proper connections with them. If they haven't, they won't get repeat business. So they have to have really strong connections. And then, of course, for lots of them, they've had to go into the new world of BD business development, which not all of them are that comfortable with. So, again, they've had to work out how to do that. So it's been quite interesting off the back of the sort of COVID times last year.

Charlie: Yeah, that's really well answered and really interesting point there. And certainly it seems like they are on that journey now in terms of moving to that sort of digital environment. I guess final question for you, Will, and I know this is something you like to ask all the guests, but the final piece of advice or take away that you would take from Julia in that conversation that might be helpful to other CMOS, what would that be?

Will: I think, again, if you look at the law firm that Julia is at, okay, not everyone is going to be able to make these connections that she's done, these personal connections to then know what's important. They actually focus on their full service, but really they focus on litigation. And they have lots of these sort of show trial lawyers. For her, and for those lawyers, historically, they've always done a show trial and that's it. It's boom and bust in their space in litigation. So actually they do a big trial and then everything goes quiet for a bit and then where's the next bit of business coming from. For Julia, she's very big on building the brand of her lawyers so that it isn't boom and bust. They're always present so people know them as a brand and they know Brown Rudnick as a brand and come to them when they've got these trials going on. So actually we're about to have a trial. So it's not this boom and bust type environment. They've got this steady flow of expertise coming out, they've got the brands being built on things like LinkedIn. And actually people will go to them off the bat because they know they're the guys to go to. They're the ones that have this nailed.

Charlie: Yes, it's really about building that brand equity then, and that kind of personal branding of the lawyers. Thank you, Will. Really good to hear your thoughts on that. And thanks for coming on.

Will: Thanks for having me. Cheers, Charlie.

Charlie: Over the past year, we've heard about some of the real exciting projects and campaigns happening within the world of legal marketing, from Angela Quinn at Husch Blackwell talking about their Power of One initiative, to Andrea Stamp at Forbes Solicitors talking about their cornerstone campaign, the Reinvention and Resilience Top 50, which recognised the local businesses that had adapted and pivoted during the pandemic. We recently spoke to Sophie Bowkett, CMO at Bird & Bird, who talked us through their recent Rebranding project and the challenges and successes around humanising a legal brand for modern times. So let's hear a clip of that conversation now.

Sophie: It was about being comfortable stripping away a more corporate veneer and really celebrating the people that make up our firm and the things that unite us and obviously so represent our brand. And we were doing this work in the Pandemic when we were all doing video calls from our homes and experiencing various lockdowns together. We'll all remember from that time we were connecting with each other in a much more real and kind of human way, and it just felt right to keep that sense alive as we refreshed the brand, as you said, more human issues like D&I and ESG are firmly at the top of the agenda internally, at our clients, organisations and in the wider world. And in that context, it started to feel very incongruous to have a more kind of corporate brand identity rather than something that is a bit more personal when we're talking about such human and emotive topics. So we really wanted to bring that human connection alive. So one way that we did that was with our strategy. It's one firm, your firm. And just having that, your firm, that real sort of shot of empathy at the end, talking very directly to our clients and to our people, was just one way of us trying to bring that human side to life a bit more. It's such a core focus because, of course, we're all in a relationship driven business. We want to reflect the human interactions that actually make those relationships more rich and rewarding, rather trying to downplay those by reverting to a sort of stiffer, more corporate expression of the firm. So that was the real impetus behind it. I think it just felt very wrong all of a sudden to be sort of reverting to a more kind of corporate faceless identity. So we wanted to bring that personal side and that playful side, which we have in our people in spades, out into the market a bit more.

Charlie: I'd like to welcome Charles Cousins back to the podcast to reflect on that chat with Sophie, which, as a marketing person, I found really insightful. So, Charles, it was so interesting to hear how the Pandemic influenced that branding project and how that human element became so integral.

Charles: Yeah, definitely. I think Sophie talked about how the branding project, it was always part of the plan. They've had it in the schedule. It hadn't been updated for about eight years. But it became clear that actually off the back of the Pandemic and through the sort of discovery phase that Sophie talked about, that it was really important to reflect the firm's culture and personality through the new brand. So that meant actually moving away from that more traditional corporate look and became something, I guess, much more empathetic, engaging, and they wanted to engage with their clients and their people directly. Sophie talks a lot about humanising the brand, which I thought was a real neat idea.

Charlie: Yeah, definitely. And I love that strapline, one firm, your firm. It really encompasses those kind of ESG and D&I issues that we spoke about earlier and that feeling of inclusiveness and a human understanding of the client's needs.

Charles: Yeah, I totally agree and Sophie mentioned it there. At the end of the day, you don't do business with a law firm, you do business with a person. So it's a relationship based business. So reflecting that in the brand and bringing that colourful and playful side of their people to their brand identity really seemed to make sense.

Charlie: Yeah, absolutely. And I must say that the new branding really does look fantastic. I love that kind of real vibrant, freshness that feels really kind of personable and our listeners can check that out at So thanks for coming on again, Charles. Really good to chat to you.

Charles: Thanks, Charlie!

Charlie: So we're moving on now to our final topic for today, and that's how to build a career in legal marketing. We've had some brilliant chats with CMOs and had lots of stories about personal experiences in developing their legal marketing and BD careers. We spoke to Laura Nichols at Ashurst who talked about carving her own career path by specialising and developing capabilities in very specific areas to add that knowledge and value to the firm. We heard from Marianne Talbot at Bailey Glasser about how to nurture and motivate great people and that fantastic idea of group bragging to help build confidence within their teams. Another interesting viewpoint came from Katie Cramond at McDermott Will & Emery, who talks about her experience in working abroad and developing an international mindset which has been key to her career journey and key to the growth of their firm. A key discussion I'd like to share with you now is from a conversation our very own Connor Kinnear had recently with Sadie Baron, CMO at Reed Smith and European President of the LMA, where she talks about equipping marketing teams for today's environment.

Sadie: I have had to beg, borrow and steal, and I think the latest prices between Russia and Ukraine is a great example where clients were desperate for advice overnight. And so we scrambled to put up a sort of sanctions investigations practice like many other great law firms did. And to do that I had to ask people to sort of stop doing their day job and pivot and move. That's not sustainable in my view. So I am literally kicking off just this week a process of having a look at how we are aligned to what we call diagonals, which means they are cross practice, cross industry and sometimes cross geography. And so I've got to think about how I structure that and then I need to think about how I take those diagonals to market. And again, we're back to the sort of speed factor here, in a really agile way. So one of the things that I'm actually thinking about is actually putting an agile marketing function into the team. And that would be, I think if you're being purist on this, you'd call them a squad. It comes from software development. Probably not likely to call them a squad within the law firm and not sure how that would go over but you get the concept here which is a group of people who have a range of skills whether that's content creation, subject matter expertise, so pulling on the BDers through to campaigns. So how are you going to take this to market? What's the marketing campaign, what's the hook? Digital exposure through all our channels and then most importantly client engagement. Understanding the clients that really need this, how are we going to get it to them and how are we going to follow up with them to make sure that it's resonated? How do we learn, how do we adapt, how do we change again and then how do we go again? Because there's kind of never one sort of size fits all on this. I think it's a one size fits one approach that you need so that's I think a challenge for all CMOs at the moment. How do we create this sort of agileness within our functions whilst also keeping the lights on and delivering the day to day work.

Charlie: So welcome to the podcast Connor, thanks for joining me.

Connor: Thanks Charlie, great to be on.

Charlie: That was a great conversation you had with Sadie and it seems like the big global events we've all experienced in the last few years have really affected the way legal marketing teams operate.

Connor: Yeah I think events like obviously the Pandemic and Brexit conflict in Ukraine have clearly impacted the way firms have to operate and indeed the way communications and marketing and business development teams they've had to adapt really quickly to get the right information to their clients as quickly as possible. And Sadie talked about the need to pivot to a digital environment and having to adapt their practices to a virtual world. I think what I really found interesting was when Sadie talked about having to beg, borrow and steal people from their day jobs in response and being able to respond as quickly as possible to their clients around these huge global events. She talked about this need to almost have to pull a squad together across practice and industries so they can respond really quickly to those changes. So they didn't have people in place that could necessarily respond to those changes quickly. So they had to take people from all different departments in different areas and different functions so they could do that. But I think what that meant is that leaves gaps in other places as well. So she was talking about maybe this ability to build in the future these squads that kind of can move from event or topic to topic and react as quickly as possible. So I think it would be really interesting to see if other CMOs and law firms and other professional services firms will be looking to do the same in.

Charlie: Yeah I think you're right there definitely.  And during that conversation, Sadie spoke a lot about keeping their teams together in what's a really competitive market at the moment. We recently spoke to Amanda Schneider at CMO, at Epstein, Becker and Green, and she spoke about the great resignation happening in the US market now and that war on talent. So it seems like that's a big concern and challenge for many law firms and going about how they keep their teams motivated and keep hold of their staff.

Connor: Yes, I think that's a massive challenge that Sadie talked about and how Reed Smith are trying to tackle that. And that is not just about salaries. They offer other opportunities like comments, professional development, training and mentoring to keep their teams motivated. I think that's an area many firms will be looking at as they compete for talent. But for me, this is not just something for law firms and something law firms have to do. It's something all companies in all industries need to be aware of. You know, people are more likely to stay if they like their job, if they like the people they work with, if they work for a fair employer. And they have to have the opportunity to continue to learn and develop and to be in an environment that celebrates success, whether that be their own individual success and getting the recognition for that, whether it's team success or whether it's firm wide success. And when I think of everyone in the firm as a unified goal, that can be a very powerful thing and that will make it a very enjoyable place to work. And if you can achieve that of a law firm or any other firm, then the talent is much more likely to stay with you.

Charlie: Yeah, definitely. And actually, just last week we spoke to Murray Coffey, who talks about the change in expectations in that kind of next generation of lawyers and actually how firms aren't just competing with each other for the brightest talent now, but with organisations that they traditionally never had to compete with before. So everything from not for profits to tech companies.

Connor: Well, I'm certainly not an expert in recruiting lawyers in any shape or fashion, but it certainly appears to be an interesting time for the legal professionals. And there's plenty of opportunities opening up from what I've heard from the people I talk to within law firms. But clearly that poses a challenge for leaders in retaining their very best people. And for a law firm, talent is very important because that's ultimately what they sell. They sell the knowledge of brands and expertise of those lawyers in their firms.

Charlie: Well, finally, Connor, was there one piece of advice from Sadie that you took away from that conversation that you think other CMOs could benefit from?

Connor: Well, I think Sadie is a great people-person and thrives off the energy, she says, of the people that she works with, and she talks about it. I think that the biggest thing is build resilience in your team and believe in your team and really be your most authentic self.

Charlie: Yeah, that's brilliant. I agree. I think that's great. Well, that's all we've got time for, so thanks for joining me today, Connor.

Connor: Thanks, Charlie. Great job.

Charlie: So we've covered loads of really insightful topics that are front of mind for legal marketing and BD professionals today. We've had the absolute honour of speaking with some of the most experienced and knowledgeable leaders in the industry over the past twelve months. But to kick off the next 50 shows, we'd like to welcome Eugene McCormick to introduce our next guest to the CMO series. Thanks for coming on, Eugene.

Eugene: Thanks Charlie. Yeah, we had the absolute pleasure of sitting down with the fantastic Gillian Ward, who is the Global Chief Marketing Officer at BCLP. And she was talking all about crossing lines between industries, moving firms, jobs, and actually about real career progression, ultimately resulting in a successful career in legal marketing. What was really fascinating is how she managed to move countries, industries, grow in her profession, and her feedback on what she would do differently and the key skills for somebody else, maybe a bit earlier on in that journey as well. So I'm really excited for everyone to hear that.

Charlie: That's great. Sounds like one not to be missed. So let's listen to a little preview of that conversation now.

Gillian: I do believe being in the marketing function of the law firm is as much a profession as being a lawyer itself. I think eventually you make a conscious decision that this is what you're going to excel in. And I did think that the smarts that they have I found really fascinating working with those types of people. What could I learn from them? But I definitely got from her on that very first plane ride and the discussions we had subsequent to that plane ride, how much more there was to bring to the table here and how I could contribute to firms if they were ready. And that readiness is something that people developing a career in this, I think it's important that you make that assessment of the firm that you're looking at and how ready are they for the real value that you're going to bring to the table, whatever that might be your particular expertise. And there's no quick and easy way to do that, Eugene.  But that was what really attracted me was I felt I could make a difference here. I felt I could build teams in these firms that could really help build the top line. And I tell my team that's what we’re here to do, we're here to build top line revenue, manage our costs effectively and drive the profit at the bottom line. And that's where I felt I could really help.

Charlie:  I really like that idea of readiness, of recognising when a firm is ready for your skills and expertise that can bring real value so I'm really intrigued to hear the rest of Gillian's story there.

Eugene: Yeah, 100%. I think probably one of my key takeaways was not just how Gillian recognised her own sort of where she was strong, where she needed to improve and took her time, but it was also that sort of confidence and owner abilities. But moreover, for me, the key takeaways, and certainly something I probably should do better, is the real responsibility to take charge and ownership of your own career. What skills do you have? What does your team look like? How do you progress on to that next step? It was a really interesting and original take, and it probably shows why she's been so successful and why she is where she is today.

Charlie: That's great. Thanks, Eugene. Yeah, really interesting and what a fantastic career. Thanks for joining me, Eugene.

Eugene: Thanks, Charlie.

Charlie: That's all for today's episode. Big thanks to all of our guests for joining us. You can subscribe to the Passle CMO series via Spotify, Apple Podcast or Google Podcasts. We'll see you next time when we hear more from Gillian Ward.


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