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| 11 minutes read

CMO Series EP89 - Paul Webb of Richards, Layton & Finger on finding your place in legal marketing

Legal marketing is maturing as a profession and is becoming increasingly attractive as a career path. As the profession evolves, more and more legal marketers are trying to find their fit and role within the industry.

On today’s episode of the CMO Series, Charles Cousins is lucky to get advice from Paul Webb, Director of Marketing & Business Development at Richards, Layton & Finger. Paul joins the podcast to discuss how marketers can find the right fit for them within legal marketing.

Charles and Paul cover: 

  • How Paul came to be in his current role and when the point he realised legal marketing was for him
  • What first attracted Paul to the idea of legal marketing as a career
  • The key considerations marketers should think about when selecting the type of firm and the location they want to work in
  • How to figure out which sub-disciplines within legal marketing, such as communications, PR and digital marketing are the right fit 
  • Advice for others trying to find the best fit for them within legal marketing


Intro: Welcome to the Passle podcast CMO Series.

Charles: As legal marketing becomes more mature and attractive as a profession, more and more legal marketers are trying to work out where they fit in the industry.

We're lucky today to get advice from Paul Webb, Director of Marketing and Business Development at Delaware based firm, Richards, Layton & Finger. Paul joins us to discuss how legal marketers can find the right fit for them within legal marketing.

Welcome to the CMO series, Paul.

Paul: Great. Thanks. Glad to be here.

Charles: We talked about this before when we caught up about the podcast, but there's a whole host of things on offer for legal marketeers now. You know, they can go to big law firms, they can go to more sort of regional law firms, they can focus in on doing specific projects like CRMs or PR or take a more broad approach where they work on comms, marketing, all of the above. So maybe to help us get a bit of context and to kick things off, how did you become in your current role? And when did you know that legal marketing was for you?

Paul: Well, I had almost 10 years of marketing experience before law school. I started at a CBS owned station in Philadelphia, in the audience research department. I did a little bit of TV sales. And then I had an opportunity to work for Home Box Office HBO as a Marketing Manager working with cable systems in the Midwest. And while I was working for HBO, I was challenged by my wife to start law school. It was something I'd been talking about for a number of years, but I really never did anything about it. So I ultimately started an evening program at Rutgers University. But I found it quickly overwhelming to have a day job at HBO where I was doing a great deal of travel uh and to try and make it back to class. So I started speaking with the career counselors at Rutgers and they introduced me to the idea that law firms were beginning to look for people with my background to help them with their marketing.

So I started reaching out and networking with people who had entered a business and I did some work for some smaller firms. And by the time I graduated from Rutgers, I was heading the marketing department at Proskauer in New York City. I followed that with work heading the communications efforts at Morgan Lewis out of the Philadelphia office. And then having that big firm experience became attractive to firms in Wilmington, Delaware, where I am now. My current law firm, Richards, Layton & Finger is the largest firm in Delaware. And our primary focus is Delaware corporate law and we handle many matters in the national spotlight and we often work as Delaware counsel to those large national and international firms.

Charles: Brill. So just to pick up on something you said there about, you were previously at HBO and then you decided to go to law school. So what point or what was it that attracted you to the idea of legal marketing as a career?

Paul: Well, after I got my JD, I still enjoyed the marketing process. I found that I really had a unique opportunity to kind of blend both my interest in law with my creative side. There weren't too many people doing this kind of work at that time. So I kind of stood out in a positive way to do something that I truly enjoyed. And when the opportunity came about after, you know, I received my JD, I wanted to continue doing legal marketing for different firms. I frankly didn't want to be one of 20,000 newly minted lawyers. I wanted to do something a little bit different and having the marketing background and having that itch was still a part of who I was.

Charles: And you talked about working at some of those bigger law firms at the start of your career. What do you think are the key considerations for marketers when they decide on the type of firm they want to work or the location they want to work in?

Paul: Yeah, I think firm culture is really important. I know it's a little bit of a cliche, but ideally, you want a farm that shares your values. And the reason I say that is so that the work that you produce ultimately reflects those firm values, the size and the location of the firm is really a matter of personal choice. The larger firms give you an opportunity to specialise in sub-disciplines. You know, whether it's PR, whether it's design, you know, digital media, events, business development, you know, all of those things. The smaller firms often require members of their teams to have varied skills. So we wear a lot of different hats and that can also be attractive. So it's really a personal choice as to where you feel that you fit in. But again, the culture of that firm, you wanna be able to reflect those values and you want to make certain that the firm reflects your values as well.

Charles: To pick up on what you said about those different sub-disciplines and in those larger law firms there's obviously more roles doing different things. You know, you might have a specific person whose job it is to manage the CRM and whereas in those smaller firms, you probably wear many hats as you described. What do you think is the best way for legal marketers to sort of find out what works for them?

Paul: Yeah, it's a great question. The truth is that many who come into legal marketing come with a particular skill set. It's a skill set that they either developed as part of their education or from experience with other organisations, you know, such as, PR firms or digital media, or they've done business development. So they're coming into legal marketing with a certain skill set. However, if you're starting out as a generalist, my advice would be to ask a lot of questions. I always speak with the most junior members of our team and say, you know, “what do you like doing? What do you feel your skill set is?” Try different things and be ready for constructive feedback, whether it's writing press releases, whether it's, you know, doing pitches. It's an opportunity particularly if you've got, you know, a good team team to be honest about what you like and the personality that you bring into those business development efforts. It's really about knowing yourself and understanding the balance you bring of skill and desire.

Charles: Yeah. So, I guess part of that is sort of knowing what you want a little bit and then seeking out a place that can facilitate you doing those things.

Paul: That's right. Exactly.

Charles: And in terms of, I apologise, I said I wasn't gonna throw any curveballs or go too far off piste, but this should be a pretty easy one for you. What were the main sort of differences in that when you went from big law to those smaller firms in terms of, I don't know, I guess we talked about those sub-disciplines and what you're doing and you said in the smaller law firms you wear many hats. What were there any other notable changes, so for someone listening to this, whether considering, you know, big law or more sort of small regional firm, what were the key sort of changes and differences

Paul: Sure. In my experience, certainly at both Proskauer and particularly at Morgan Lewis, which is a huge firm. There were a lot of silos. You often would work with an individual practice group on a particular project, but once that project was finished, you didn't see them again for perhaps months, you know, at a time. With a smaller firm, I found that you get a lot more interaction with the attorneys, you understand what, you know, their desires are, you understand what makes them tick, and you understand what works for them. One of the skills that legal marketers and law and particularly in law firms need to have is the ability to read the room, the ability to understand what the needs are and to be able to fulfil those needs. Smaller firms throw you in a little bit deeper because you're with a set of attorneys in a much more intimate way, the larger firms, it's a little bit more at arm's length. At least that was my experience. And, you know, again, some people like that and some people might prefer the situation of the smaller firm.

Charles: Okay then Paul, and so I think we'll jump into the quickfire round now where we'll try and find out a bit more about Paul and you as a person. So if you're happy, we'll get cracking with that.

Paul: Absolutely.

Charles: So, the first question I've got here is what is your favorite business and non-business book? I just started reading a book called The Creative Act: A way of being. It's by a music producer named Rick Rubin. He was recently interviewed on 60 Minutes. And one of the things that struck me and made me want to get the book is he said we're trying to tap into something that makes you wanna lean forward and pay more attention and that's the essence of good marketing to me. So I started reading his book and it's really fascinating.

Charles: So, you'd recommend that one? I've scribbled that down.

Paul: Yeah. And if you can get the video of the 60 minutes interview, it's pretty amazing.

Charles: I'll have to check that out. And the next question, what was your first job?

Paul: My very first job, which I failed at miserably, was as a busboy in a restaurant in Philly. I sold lamps at Bloomingdale's department store. But I guess my first real job in business was I was hired as a research analyst at that CBS station in Philly. And that was a great introduction to my understanding of audience demographics and how consumers make purchases, which really has been the basis for everything I've done since then.

Charles: And then what makes you happy at work?

Paul: Really it's the opportunity to create a work product that successfully positions my firm, whether that's through digital media, through public relations, through the events, through creative pitches and business development. When we can create a work product, that is a great tool for, you know, making our firm look well, making the individual attorneys look good. That's,you know, why I do this on a regular basis. This is my career.

Charles: What are you listening to at the moment? This could be a podcast, music, audio book?

Paul: Oh, gosh. I listen to a lot of different things. I have gotten back into some of the albums that made, you know, I guess made my life pleasant when I was a kid. I'm relistening to them. One of them I know is Santana's Moon Flower. I'm also starting to listen to, you know, some early Jimi Hendrix stuff. My dad was a big jazz fan and he introduced me to Wes Montgomery. So I'm listening to some Wes Montgomery also. 

Charles: So just getting very nostalgic with all the throwbacks. 

Paul: I think it's because I'm getting older, so I'm starting to kind of go backwards with that.

Charles: I think everyone does that. I've recently been revisiting a playlist that I made when I was in school. So, it's all my skate of rock tunes and it's quite a good workout mix.

Paul: That's great. 

Charles: Where's your favorite place to visit and why?

Paul: A number of years ago, my wife and I visited Maui and we took the Haleakalā sunrise tour for those of you who are familiar with the Haleakalā, it is a dormant volcano on the island of Maui. And what you do is you get up at about three o'clock in the morning and you take a ride up to the top of the volcanoes in a minibus and you watch the sun rise from that height and we're all given bikes and then we ride down the side of the mountain. It was the most wonderful vacation I think I'd ever had. Just thrilling and my wife and I really want to take our children back someday so that they can experience that.

Charles: That sounds absolutely incredible. Climbing volcanoes at sunrise.

Paul: Yes, I recommend it for anybody who visits Hawaii, particularly Maui.

Charles: Okay. And now, really to wrap up the podcast, I wanna bring things back to what we've been talking about and that's finding your fit. We've explored how different size law firms offer different things. And you talked about how culture is important in making your selection. But if you could pick out one piece of advice for others to try to find the best fit for them in legal marketing, what would that one thing be?

Paul: Yeah, I often tell people don't try to fit a square peg into a round hole, know what you like, know what you're good at and your passion for that will shine through. And we always have to remember, lawyers aren't always comfortable with the idea of marketing and business development. So we often have to hold their hands through the process and it's really just like holding the hands of their clients as well. You know, they want us to be confident in our understanding of marketing and the tools that we bring just as they, as lawyers, you know, need to show a certain level of confidence to their clients that the legal efforts that they're taking them through are in good hands. So, you know, be confident, know what you're good at and you know, understand that that will show in the work that you do.

Charles: I like that. And it's something I remember my mum always used to say to me is “if you find something you're good at, then you might as well crack on with it because you'll probably find some enjoyment there.”

Paul: Absolutely.

Charles: Well, Paul, it's been an absolute pleasure to chat to you today and you've got a whole load of experience in large and smaller law firms. So hopefully our listeners today can pick up on a few of your experiences and hopefully that can help them find their place in the marketing space.

Paul: I hope so. It's a great career and I really hope that people enjoy it.


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