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| 33 minutes read

CMO Series EP123 - Michael Rynowecer of The BTI Consulting Group on The War on Talent: Opportunities For Today’s Legal CMOs

On our recent CMO Series Webinar, Will Eke was delighted to be joined by Michael Rynowecer, Founder and President of The BTI Consulting Group, to delve into their insights on CMO mobility and the opportunities for law firms and marketers in today’s climate. 

A summary of the session, along with the video recording, is available here. 

During the Webinar, Michael and Will explored: 

  • The background to the research 
  • The ‘stand out’ findings and the current state of play for CMOs in the legal industry
  • The most surprising insights
  • The key differences between US and UK markets
  • The reaction from CMOs who have seen the research
  • The impact for CMOs, from their careers to their day-to-day
  • What law firms should be doing differently to retain their talent
  • The main opportunities for CMOs in today's market



Charlie: Welcome everyone to our second CMO series webinar. We're going to be looking at the war on talent and opportunities for today's CMOs and we're lucky to be joined by Michael Rynowecer who will speak to our lovely Senior Vice President of our Commercial team here in the UK. That's Will Eke. And you'll probably recognize his dulcet tones from many of our CMO series podcasts. So those of you familiar with the podcasts, we're on, I think 122 episodes plus specials so far. And this webinar series is an extension of that where we're speaking to some people within the industry live on this webinar with you which will be recorded and shared on the podcast.

So, without any further ado, we will be looking at in today's session, the current landscape for legal CMOs, insights into CMO mobility and why CMOs are kind of moving around within the industry and that's from research conducted by Michael at BTI Consulting, who's joined us today, over the past three years. He's gonna look at some of those top triggers for those transitions within the industry, everything from culture through to compensation. We're going to be looking at the implications for law firms and how leaders can empower their CMOs in order to retain the industry's best talent, and I'm going to pass over to Will and Michael, who can take it from here.

Will: Thanks, Charlie. Yeah, and welcome again, everyone to a live version of the Passle CMO Series Webinar, which I've never done before. It's quite exciting. My name's Will Eke. I'm on the commercial team here at Passle as we've already said, very excited to be joined by Michael Rynowecer. I've been practicing the surname all week. So hopefully, I nailed that. Michael is joining us from BTI Consulting Group that he founded. Some of you guys might know him already from a lot of research that these guys do. Welcome, Michael. How are we doing today? Did you have a good Thanksgiving?

Michael: I did thank you very much. I was able to rest up for today. So I'm pretty excited. 

Will: That's the main thing. Lots of research, as I say, that comes out of BTI, we are going to be talking about the war on talent and I suppose the opportunities for CMOs currently but also very much future CMOs in the legal space, in the professional service space. I interestingly came across that research um because a CMO in the US shared it on LinkedIn, which is obviously, you know, power of the network. And I found it really interesting and of course, I did a little Passle summary of that. And we ended up here. Can you give us a bit more of a deep dive, a bit more of a background into that research, sort of how you gathered it, what you were looking to find out?

Michael: Sure. We've been interviewing, researching, and formally conducting surveys with CMOs for just about 20 years now. And, you know, some of the questions interestingly have remained the same, others have changed. As times have evolved, what we found is, especially as we headed into the pandemic years, there was starting to be a lot more different viewpoints, different thoughts, different strategies, and we saw stress, we saw excitement, we saw challenges, and every CMO seemed to, you know, have a little bit of each of those at some point as it, as it unfolded then, as things, you know, moved back to post-crisis. Anyway, we have started to again, see this movement and see law firms handle and manage and recruit their CMOs differently. So we started talking to the CMOs about it and we also talked to some leadership partners about it. And we, you know, the first thing that really jumped out to us which said, “OK, things are different now”, you know, over the last three years, 28% of CMOs at law firms have moved somewhere. Roughly a third of those were promotions, two thirds of those were lateral movements. And that's in addition to the 15% that just left, some may have retired, some went other places, some went to other industries. So we started digging in and saying, OK, if we've got that kind of movement, if we talked to the leadership and they're thinking about marketing differently, we wanted to understand kind of where the thinking was what CMOs were thinking what it meant for them. And that, that's really what led to, you know, a lot of the research we published around this so far and what we're gonna talk about today.

Will: And what and what were, I mean, you mentioned a few of the things there 28% changed firm. I mean, in terms of standout findings is that surprising to you? I mean, what's the current state of play with that figure in mind? Because when I did share, you know, the summary of your research with a few CMOs, you know, some were surprised, some actually came back and sort of said it's not as high as I thought it was. So what, you know, what's your sort of take on that in terms of the standout pieces?

Michael: Well, my observation is, I think 28% is high. I think, you know, if you go into other industries and other professions, you will find that number, you know, just not as high. You know, typically would be, you know, the most over a three-year period, you'll find maybe 12 15% turnover. So this is almost double that. And, in terms of being, you know, noteworthy, we thought that was particularly noteworthy. I think, you know, talked to CMOs, we had the same reaction that you, although most thought it was high, there were a few that thought it was, you know, not surprising at all. Those CMOs interestingly tended to be ones that get, let's say more calls from recruiters than others. And, you know, so their, you know, reference point might be a little bit different because, what we've observed is there's a group of CMOs that are always getting the calls. Some get, you know, most of the calls, a few of the calls. So, depending how actively you are on the recruiting circuit will impact how you view that. But in our view, that's quite high and it speaks a lot to what it means for, you know, to be a law firm CMO or CMBDO, which I'll use interchangeably, even though I know they may not be the same. But you know, if you're working in an industry where there's high demand because the turnover creates demand for your role. You know, and it's not unusual to see compensation rise, which is what you're singing. I don't think that's the only factor, but I think that's one factor you're seeing changes in law firm strategy, which means that CMBDOs may or may not be the right fit for the way a law firm wants to go. And then, you know, we've also seen a lot of, you know, I've been watching the industry for probably longer than I may wanna remember. But I, you know, a few decades and I have not seen as much um as many firms taking aggressive progressive steps in their strategy and their marketing and business development, with an equal amount, taking steps backward. It's one thing to stay the same and watch and see what everyone does, but it's very much another to step back. And if you're a CMO with any kind of ambition, and you're working at a firm where they're either not moving forward or especially stepping back, there's a high likelihood that that's your, one of your exit signs that, OK, I don't wanna be in a firm that is retrenching and doesn't wanna invest in the place where I have my skill set and my knowledge and where I can help a firm. So those were some of the kind of standout results that we think at a very high level, speak to the trend and speak to the, you know, very personal impact on the law firm CMOs.

Will: Was there anything else, you know that we talked about standout stats, was there anything that was really surprising from your point of view? I mean, as you say, the 28% is really high when benchmarked against other industries. But was there anything else that you sort of thought? Wow, that I didn't think that would happen?

Michael: I think that one or two things that stood out which are non-quantitative at all is the most of the law firm CMO s that we know, and we've talked to for a long time and even our new friends have developed this uh very strong resilience to all this. You know, years ago it was a very frustrating and it still is very frustrating, but they seem to be able to kind of put it in context and say, OK, this is where we're at, this is what we're doing. This is how it affects my career and being quite systematic about, you know, saying, well, I know maybe I should leave or maybe I should make a move, but I'm gonna make the right move. I'm not gonna make a move and they're, they're more resilient, they're more systematic, they're able to kind of not sweat the small stuff in some cases, not even sweat some of the bigger stuff. They're able to brush aside the challenges that come with changes in strategy. And, you know, most importantly, the changes that come in leadership. You know, that's one side of it. Another surprising finding was there's a group of law firm CMOs I would say probably maybe 12 to 15% of the total that have developed these almost, you know, a personal advisor roles with the head of the law firm, whether it's a chair, whether it's a managing partner or whatever their title is. And they truly are advising, they truly are part of the fundamental fabric of where the firm is going. There were always a few of those, but we're starting to see that cohort grow. That was both encouraging and that was not as surprising is the right word because it's welcome. But still, I would put it in the category of given everything that's going on. The fact that this group has a leadership that turned to them and they were able to develop those relationships, I think is, you know, speaks to a lot of opportunity for CMOs as they move forward. And, you know, some of the things that make a CMO happy in their role.

So, I think that the other surprise which we're hearing from a few CMOs, not all. And we observe is salaries seem to be skyrocketing. They're just going way up there, following profits per partner. They are, you know, law firms have always paid generally speaking well and they're really, you know, really raising what they're paying and what they're willing to shell out for what they perceive to be top talent. So, that's gonna put a lot of pressure on other law firms that haven't done that yet and it's gonna put a lot of pressure on firms where they have a longtime CMO because, you know, it only takes about 30 seconds for those, you know, increases to get around the industry. So law firms will have to work harder to make sure that compensation doesn't become a paramount issue.

Will: Yeah, it's fascinating. But I suppose it's, you know, we often hear and you must have heard it way more than me, but lots of CMOs want this seat at the table. And I guess, you know, with the rising wages, partnerships are valuing that now and they're pricing them accordingly. The thing I really wanted to dig into because I know there's a mix on this webinar of UK and US firms and we play in both markets as well. So I just wondered if there was nuances between that you'd seen between the two markets between the UK and US. Obviously, from my perspective, they have more lofty titles in terms of CMOs law firms in the US have more CMOs in general, that title, that chief title. But it seems like we are seeing a bit of a trend of, especially ones that are both sides of the pond. There's a few more CMOs sort of popping up in the UK as well. Now, I wonder what you're sort of take is.

Michael: We're definitely seeing that. And so that's the same trend. We're both seeing the same thing there. The only thing we noticed is that the UK-based firms primarily have a larger set of client facing tools that are embedded in the firm. So that would be client listening. That would be account based management. That would be business development seems to be a little bit more of the fabric of a UK firm than it is a US firm. But those were the things that kind of jumped out at us in terms of the differences between the two areas.

Will: Thank you. Yeah, that is quite interesting, especially as you say, I mean, a lot of the client listening programs we've had on the podcast, actually, people have been talking quite heavily about them. But, and if there are any UK, this is a shouter actually, if there are any UK heads of marketing CMOs that wanna jump on the podcast, then please do reach out because we do seem to be having quite a lot of the US ones jumping on and talking about what they're doing. So it be good to get some UK ones on as well. In terms of, you know, the reaction and the research. I mentioned that quite a well known CMO I picked it up on linkedin because she sort of posted that. What's the reaction been about the research? And did, you know, did you find that people were reaching out and were there any particularly strong sort of comments about what you guys put out there?

Michael: We had a lot of strong comments I would say of the, you know, 14 years we've been publishing the blog and the 20-some-odd years we've been doing the research. This is one of the more active posts and pieces of research that we've put out there. A lot of CMOs wanna, you know, first they wanna contextualize it for themselves because they're in a firm, you know, they're trying to situate themselves and see, you know, how it, what it means for them. Some shared frustrations, some said, you know, they didn't realize maybe how um much better they have it than what they perceive others. But there were so many opinions and a lot of discussion about how to deal with some of the things we talked about. Like one of the things we haven't spent a lot of time on. But I wanna say that somewhere between 15 and 20% of all firm leaders, so the actual, whoever is running the firm, you know, have stepped down in the last three years. So it's a little bit less than the CMOs and another 15 to 20% are gonna be stepping down in the next 2 to 3 years. So, you know, they very much are trying to figure out what that means for them because one of the things that's unique about law firms is that a change in leadership can result in a change in strategy and a change in culture. And most CMOs are pretty astute. So they have a sense of when there might be a change in leadership and they don't wanna be you know, in a situation where they're uncomfortable with the new direction of the firm. And interestingly, I'll just throw in that is not unique to CMOs. We talked to just as many partners who have said, you know, I've looked at the candidates for the next slew of potential leaders of the firm and I think I should probably make a move because they don't like it. So, a lot of discussions around what those things mean, how to read the tea leaves, what the opportunities really are, how to tell which firms are really the ones that are committed. Because very few CMOs go out on interviews and come back and say, well, this firm has no commitment to building out this, you know, strength within the firm because the firms put on a very good face. But how do you read behind that? How do you poke at it to make sure that you're not getting the, you know, the tag line and the advertising version, what's it really like there? And how do they figure that out? Those were big points of discussion.

Will: Yeah, I guess it's a classic thing where you don't know what the culture is like until you actually get there sometimes, right? In terms of, you know, and again, we've actually set something up in the US, our CEO has, called Changemakers where the idea is, you know, you get a bunch of CMOs that haven't been in the position that long. So sort of under three years, we get them talking, sharing ideas, and helping each other, you know, bringing them through as a sort of cohort to share their good things, bad things, what's working, what's not, what does this all sort of mean career wise for CMOs because you've touched on a few of the things there. But how does it sort of impact their day-to-day and their thinking?

Michael: I think overall this has a positive effect and presents more opportunity because the law firms that are either newly aggressive or have always been aggressive are gonna set the tone and they are gonna grow faster than everybody else. They'll have higher profits than everybody else and they will have some very visible winds that inevitably will convince other l law firms that are cutting back or are somehow retrenching that that is not a direction to go. So I think that the successes will become visible and will influence the other firms. Secondlym is the growth in the abundance of tools and strategies that these CMOs can bring to the table. Now with the advent of digital marketing, with the growth of LinkedIn now becoming more important than websites, there's just so many different strategies and tools that you can use. The more that you can bring them in, the more value it's gonna provide, you know, to those firms. One of the interesting things over the last, we'll say two to three, maybe four years is that you've got at least two to three partner classes that never had to even think about business development to be billable. You know, you had all this work walking in the door and, you know, they were law firms were capacity bound and couldn't deliver and you know, those partners are gonna fall into two camps. One is, oh my God. I better learn about marketing BD, client service, and all those things that live within the domain of the CMO and you're gonna have a group of those who say, you know, I don't need to learn that. And then, you know, we're not gonna focus on those. There's gonna be enough of the partners who realize that they need these resources, that they need these strategies to be able to build their careers, especially because a is getting harder to be a partner. And perhaps more importantly, I personally have observed maybe five world crises. And every time there's a big economic crisis, business development just gets a lot harder and it never goes back to where it was. So between it being harder to get clients, the group of partners that is gonna need this more than any group of partners has in the last 20 years. And the new tools and the new strategies and the newly aggressive firms that just adds up to opportunity for CMOs as we look forward and if you wanna throw compensation in there, that doesn't hurt either.

Will: Yeah, I think we found the same thing and actually the CMOs that can now execute that plan. You know, they're being leaned on a lot harder for their expertise, which is, you know, what they've been trying to do for quite a while. Right?

Michael: Exactly. They're getting attention and that's a good thing in most cases.

Will: OK, we've got a good CMO here. We need to retain he or she and the team. You know, what do you think firms could be doing differently in terms of what you've seen?

Michael: A couple of things from big to small to procedural and all over the map. Number one is, if I'm a law firm leader, I would make dedicated time on a systematic basis. One-on-one time with my CMO that is one of the most important things for the successful CMOs is to know they, it isn't just the access, although that's nice. But it's getting their perspective, it's getting their thinking, it's getting is fleshing out the details. But perhaps most importantly, it tells everybody else in the firm that these individuals have the implicit approval and authority to do what they're doing. And that makes all the difference in the world if you're going out talking to partners and asking them to do things and attorneys. It just helps your gravitas. So I think the law firms that make that time. And the CMOs that I know do that. They just seem much more confident, they're more successful, they bring new and innovative ideas on a regular basis and they just get a lot done. So that's number one, I would say number two is, you know, keep an eye on the comp because if they get out of line it's a very hard battle to come back and say, OK, we're gonna give you a 40% raise to match the market as they're walking out the door. You wanna be proactive and you wanna make sure that you are level set at a minimum if not leading the market in terms of comp I think that firm's leaders, this goes back to leadership would be well served by sending the message that, you know, the CMOs are there for very specific roles and are to be taken seriously. 

There are firms as of today that still walk up to CMOs where partners have no problem saying, you know, you realize you're just part of overhead or please remove me from all your emails because I know how to get clients. You know, those things are just rude and you know, many CMOs can shrug them off but you know, you just don't want people saying that about you and you know, I've noticed that some firms where I've observed the managing partner just saying to different partners, you know, we don't do that. If you wanna think that by yourself, think it would keep it to yourself. We're trying to build a world-class organization and that doesn't contribute in any positive way and that takes a strong leader. But it's the difference between having someone who again believes they have the implicit authority to do what they need to do and those that don't, you know, outside of that I would say, and this is on two counts. You know, listen, CMOs have a lot of ideas which may be well understood by people in the law firm marketing world, but may or may not be understood by law firm leaders. I would advise law firm leaders to, you know, listen to 34 times to these ideas before they say yes or no frankly and to give everything the fair shot that it deserves. I don't, you know, most of the CMOs that I know, understand that not everything they propose is going to be approved, but they wanna feel like they got a fair shot. It isn't just rejected because we don't do that this way or no other firm does this, so we won't do it. They very much wanna know it was considered so and I think that comes, you know, and goes back to the idea that, you know, you're part of a team and doing whatever you can to make the CMO and the team feel like they're part of the firm. And then finally, what I would add is share way more information than you believe I, or certainly that most firms are sharing. Now, I can't tell you, I've had at least 20 CMOs over time telling me that they thought it was fascinating that they know everything about the client base. They know what the revenue is, they know who likes them, they know who doesn't like the firm, they know which partners piss off clients on a regular basis. But they can't see the firm's strategic plan and they're like, well, how am I supposed to support you if I don't see the strategic plan? Cause the firm thinks it's too confidential or they don't share certain other information about  whether it be inappropriate partner behavior or you know, going back to the beginning of the pandemic there were two CMOs that said, you know, they were found themselves, they learned that they were in meetings with people who were exposed to COVID two weeks after those meetings occurred and that leadership knew. So, you know, there's gotta be this inclusion and sharing that will again, make the CMO feel like they're part of the fabric of the firm. Whether it's, you know, trivial things or strategic things. Every little thing is a brick in the foundation of the relationship.

Will: There’s sharing and then not sharing in the case of the virus though. Right? I think, yeah, what you're saying now, I mean, I was speaking to a CMO recently and she said, look, I've got the autonomy to try stuff, you know, I can try it. I know it's not all gonna stick, it's not all gonna be a success, but I am getting um uh the ability to try the stuff. So she was very happy with that and actually, she's one of the, she's a new CMO. So she, you know, she's got a very close relationship with the leadership and they, and they trust her plan. So, I think that's, that's always a good benchmark. The research also mentioned, you know, sometimes it can take CMO S two years to get there. I think you used the word, the expression ‘sea legs’ is that normally understood by managing partners or, I mean, I'm probably, the way I'm angling this is probably we, as we all know some of those big firms, it seems like the CMOs they need to do something very, very quickly in a one year cycle otherwise, you know, they're, they're sometimes gone again. Do you think that's a problem? Do you think the Managing partners and the leadership know that?

Michael:  I think they know it, whether they have the patience to deal with it as a whole separate question. You know, it's funny cause we did a big survey of managing partners and they will tell you, it takes them two years to get their sea legs. So they know but you know, you are managing a law firm with all these partners and you know, they may or may not be cognizant of it. And I know when I'm talking to newer CMOs, you know, we talk about the two years it takes, but also what it takes to get those sea legs and what it takes to get the credibility and, you know, you're right, it often takes some kind of win. You know, whether you help a rainmaker in a big way, and the rainmaker, you know, goes out and basically gives you an endorsement. You know, even small things like, you know, having a substantive role at the firm retreat. You know, some of it also goes to the CMOs. I know CMOs who take you know, new CMO roles and they don't leave their office for six or seven months and I know others that on, you know, day six they're out on the road meeting partners. So, you know, I think that some of that can be managed and dealt with by the CMOs to try to shorten that life cycle, you know, and whenever you meet with a partner try to bring something useful. Not every partner will find it useful. Not every partner will want it, but the w ones that do will get you to those sea legs and that feedback gets back to the leadership very quickly. And that's the kind of thing that kinda supports them. I find it's the CMOs where, you know, they're not as aggressive in going out. They may, some of them will wait for the firm to give them direction, which usually doesn't come in, in terms of how to onboard yourself. And the best law firm leaders will sit down with the CMO and say, OK, here's the X number of partners you need to meet with, you need to have these partners on your side, you need to, you know, have relationships, you need to learn from them, they will teach you about the firm, their practices. So, I think that that's something that could be managed. But it's something that requires active management. It won't just happen by itself.

Will: Yeah, we've often heard the term, we just need a sort of trophy project, you know, trophy to build the trust, to get everyone on board. And sometimes again, you talk about new CMOs and having that project. But they also need to win over. I suppose they're inheriting a whole team sometimes, aren't they as well? 

Michael: They are. They are. And you know, if you've got a team where somebody was passed over, that can be a challenge and you know, making peace is always a but you have to know that not every CMO will know that when they walk in the door. So, but you're right, you gotta build your team as well. And all the things we said about how to create the successful CMO. You can just take in overlay on the CMOs with their teams, you know, communicate, tell them what you're trying to do. Listen, give them a voice. Those are the same things that build your team.

Will: I suppose that, you know, you talked about the compensation, you talked about the comp that does get, you know, lots of applicants in terms of a law firm trying to get a new CMO, if they feel unwelcome when they get there, if it's not all it's cracked up to be, what else could the firm leaders do outside of compensation in terms of support? What else could they do? What else do you feel like they could add for a for a CMO in terms of support?

Michael: I think that, you know, having those one one-on-one sessions we talked about, especially in the beginning, you know, how are you doing? And you know, if you, you know, feel comfortable saying it's not going as well as I'd like asking for advice. The one thing these law firm leaders know is they know they're partners and you know, they want you to be successful. So they will tell you, you know, who to meet with. Sometimes they'll tell you what, you know, topics to talk about or who's got passion around certain initiatives and projects. But I think that the law firm leader that doesn't step in is starting to set themselves up for what could be a less-than-optimal relationship.

Will: We've talked about a few opportunities that, you know, you've seen for CMOs in the current climate. Those coming through the ranks, we've also mentioned, you know, the future CMOs, what do you see the biggest opportunity for those type of people is currently? 

Michael:  Well, I think that, you know, you're gonna see continued turnover because you've got this bifurcation of strategy. So whenever there's turnover, there's opportunity, especially if you can catch a firm that is changing his tune and moving to the upside of becoming more aggressive. I think that the individual skills in a firm, I mean, I think the law firms are gonna get a lot bigger than they are and um that's gonna create opportunity, you know, I remember when law firm departments were, you know, four people, eight people, 12 people you know, they're gonna be much bigger, they're gonna have more skills, they're gonna be more strategic. And so there's opportunity where they are if you're in an aggressive firm. And I think that, you know, CMO opportunities will come along if that's what, you know, you wanna do. But I think that, you know, we're gonna be in a sustained period where law firms will get bigger. It, you know, there'll be a group, a measurable group of law firms that will become more aggressive, creating opportunities, they will have bigger marketing and business development departments they will be doing and setting the trends for what marketing and business development looks like. And if I'm in legal marketing and working for a law firm, that's probably where I wanna make sure I am and I wanna be.

Will: Being very topical. How do you sort of see things like mergers you talk about, you know, those are aggressive, there's lots of strategies out there with the bigger firms where they're being, their strategy is to be quite aggressive and to acquire other firms. I mean, what's your take on that in terms of? Is there gonna be a, well, I'm a CMO here, I'm a CMO. How do we squeeze into one? Do you think it's gonna create, I know one particular US firm, Vinson & Elkins, they, you know, they actually have three chiefs, right? They've split it into three different roles now. So they haven't got a CMO they've, they've, they've gone a new direction. Do you see that it'll open out, you know, new areas like that?

Michael: I think that there will always, well, you'll continue to see growth of people in charge of individual areas, but I think you'll move back to, ultimately, there will be one individual that manages those individual sections. I think that the coordinations, the strategic co ordination demanded of all those function will ultimately be required to report in to one of the most, you know, a more senior individual to make sure that they're going in the direction that they wanna go when everything is integrated and synchronized.

Will: And do you have one piece of advice if I was to press you, which I am um that you would give to CMOs, you know, sort of navigating the market currently.

Michael: I would say one, you know, it would be prudent to keep your eyes open because you don't know what's out there. Second, make a realistic assessment of where you are at your firm. You know, what are your opportunities? Are you an aggressive firm? Are you a retrenching firm? Are you a neutral firm? I would say that I have never heard of a CMO second chair market or third chair marketer ever being admonished for helping partners. To me, it sounds like you know, you're a law firm marketer at a law firm and there are law firm marketers who don't like to work with partners and there's certainly legitimate reasons why. But, you know, the more you help partners be successful, the more successful you will be, that doesn't mean you take on other projects. And that sounds like it's so simple, but I talked to so many, especially, you know, not so much CMOs but the second chairs or somebody reporting in who, you know, there are so many things to do that don't necessarily support the partners directly.

And you know, making sure that you have a portion of your responsibilities where you are helping partners and that partner's help is, you know, somehow results in something visible to that partner. Those are the things that I have found that A, partners appreciate and that so many law firm marketers enjoy. And then when you've got something where your partners appreciate it, you've got something you enjoy. If the partners are happy, the CMO is likely to be happy. And if those two people are happy, the leadership is probably gonna be happy and you're probably doing something right in the marketplace. So that would be my fundamental advice. And if my other piece of advice is when you go on our interviews, take those rose-colored glasses off as soon as you leave. And just really, if I can just go off on a tangent for 30 seconds or so. I talked to a CMO I know particularly well and they very much wanted to be a CMO at an elite firm in New York. Got an interview, was supposed to have four interviews in one day. First interview was on time. The second interview was 25 minutes late, and the third interview was 40 minutes late. The fourth interview was blown off and the CMO called me and said, wow, it was great. I had these great interviews and I felt really bad when I said, OK, so run this by me again. One person blew you off, and two were late and one met with you on time, and they didn't give reasons like I'm in court or a client, cause that happens, and I get that, but they just didn't make the time, and you have to say to yourself, OK, so what's it like to work there if they can't take the time to talk to me in the interview process, you have to be really, really, really have a lot of self-honesty going on. 

Will: Yeah, that's a good point. I suppose, you know, that person probably didn't take the one that, that didn't turn up, right?

Michael: It's just, it's a crazy world out there.

Will: Yeah. Exactly. And well, the relationship's gonna be exactly as you say, it's gonna start off like that. That's how it's gonna run from moving forward. Do we have, cos I'm conscious of time now, do we have any questions for Michael at all from anyone? If you do, please put them in the Q and A and we can answer them. Now, here we go. Have you got any advice for those CMOs who might work in those types of environments you just mentioned to play a part in changing the culture of the firm? Good question. 

Michael: It is and I think that, you know, it starts with changing the culture in your department but also changing how you interface with, you know, the partners and the leadership. I mean, if you are in a firm where the leadership doesn't wanna meet with, you go and you ask for those meetings, you make your case and then if they don't wanna meet with you, then you've got a message and you've got a piece of information. But I know managing partners that I've heard from that have said just the opposite to me, which is, I don't understand why my CMO doesn't wanna, you know, meet with me more often, why they don't talk to me, why they don't, you know, share your plans with me. So you've got two sides of the equation and a lot of CMOs are surprised by that. But I'm getting off topic so I apologize, you know, I think if you wanna change the culture is, you know, start engaging in the behaviors of the culture, you wanna have culture, you know, behaviors, especially positive behaviors are contagious. I know one CMO that when they took a new role, they said one of the things they do when they walk down the hall is they smile at everyone, you know, everyone, they see, they just smile and nod instead of just walking by cause they wanna be friendly. They don't know them because they're new. But then, you know, they get feedback that like, well, other people smile back and like people noticed it. So, you know, if you're in that environment, I would you know, do the things that I can, that I can control and see if that makes an impact. And you know, most of the time it'll work to your benefit because I, again, I'm always surprised at the number of leadership partners or partners who say, well, I've never, I've never heard from our CMO, I've never met the CMO, I've never seen them except at a retreat. So there could be a lot of opportunity if you're in that culture. And I think we did, we did a survey. It's on my my blog site where 12% of attorneys and CMOs see their law firm as toxic. And yes, they exist and you don't wanna be there, but that leaves another 90% where we got a shot. 

So, you know, hopefully, I'm guessing, you know, most of the people, hopefully in this call are not in that cohort and they have the opportunity to engage in those behaviors to make it the culture that they think would be best for everybody.

Will: Great stuff. I think we're probably gonna call it a wrap here. There's no other questions. Michael, thank you so much for giving such great insight. Thank you for giving us your time and your knowledge. Oh no, we've got one more. You mentioned that there are CMOs who are not involved with strategic planning or have access to the plan. Seems like a strong indicator that it's not a firm that values the position or its role in leadership. 

Michael: I think that's correct. I think, you know, in the firms where I see that the CMOs in the marketing department, A, tend to be smaller and B, they tend to be more task-oriented. Like, you know, we need this proposal by Sunday there, you know, we need X, we need Y there isn't a you know, the value added is by definition limited. They are given instructions and asked to deliver on those instructions and most people in those environments are not high on the job satisfaction scale. 

Will: Is there an argument say with the new CMO as well, if they're trying to bring a plan to the table in a quite an advanced interview, surely they need a bit of access to what the strategic plan is then anyway, when they're coming in.

Michael: Right. Well, you could, you know, the incoming interview, the interview process is a two-way street. Although most people don't view it that way, you know, question. I'm not sure it's question one, but certainly somewhere in the interview process is, you know, at what point do I see the firm's strategic plan? And if they say you don't? Well, boy, that's an indicator if they say after six months, if they say after two years, if they say on day one, you know, or you know, you're gonna get different answers, but that will tell you a lot. And it generally, you know, to the best of my knowledge, most recruiters don't counsel this way because, you know, they have different objectives but asking those questions like, how often does the leadership partner meet with the CMO? When do we see the strategic plan? What's my role in developing the strategic plan? What committees would I be on? Those are all questions that will give you very strong indications of what to expect.

Will: Great. I know that this is being recorded. So it will go out on our CMO series podcast channel next week, I believe. And we're also going to share this with everyone that attended as well. You'll get a copy of this on an email. So again, thank you so much, Michael. It's been a pleasure having you on.

Michael: It's been my pleasure. Thank you for having me.

Will:  And thanks to everyone who turned up today. Thank you.




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