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| 31 minutes read

CMO Series Podcast Special - The Highlights from CMO Series Live in New York

In this special edition of the CMO Series Podcast, Natasha Sandamas, Events Marketing Manager, joins the series to reflect on Passle’s first Stateside CMO Series Live event, which took place in New York City in June. 

Delving into the highlights from the sessions, we hear from an incredible lineup of speakers including Chief Marketing Officers, Chief Operating Officers and General Counsels from the world’s top firms. They joined the day to share their unique perspectives on everything from how to integrate data into your business development strategies and delivering a world-class digital presence, to how to position your firm as the best choice, all under the theme of putting your firm front of mind with clients. 

A huge thanks to our fantastic speakers for sharing their insights: Trish Lilley, Chief Marketing & Business Development Officer at Thompson Coburn, Sadie Baron Chief Marketing Officer at Reed Smith, Phill McGowan Global Director of Marketing and Communications at Reed Smith,  Kelly Harbour, Chief Business Development Officer at Goulston & Storrs, Terra Liddell, Chief Marketing Officer at Finnegan, Nicole Petrie, Chief Marketing and Business Development Officer at Schulte Roth & Zabel, Monica Rodriguez Kuniyoshi, Chief Marketing Officer at Gunderson Dettmer, Joe Green, Chief Innovation Officer at Gunderson Dettmer, Christa Crane, Chief Client & Strategy Officer, Loeb & Loeb, Julie Chodos, Chief Marketing and Business Development Officer at Axinn, Ralph Allen, Chief Operating Officer at  Kelley Drye & Warren, Jennifer Korff, Chief Operating Officer at  Brown Rudnick, Annie Westover, Chief Operating Officer at Axinn, Adam Kassoff, Chief Operating Officer at Vinson & Elkins, Luke Ferrandino, Chief Marketing Officer at Paul Weiss, Alison Arjoon, Chief Marketing and Business Development Officer at Fragomen, Deborah Ruffins, Chief Marketing Officer at Perkins Coie, Shade Vaughn, Chief Marketing and Business Development Officer at Akin Gump and Crossley Sanford, Managing Director at Ankura, Brian Rauch, General Counsel at Harvard Maintenance, Julie Aslaksen, General Counsel at Host Hotels, Alex Dimitrief, General Counsel at Sotera Health Company and Lisa Anastos General Counsel at IdeaQuest.


Charlie: Welcome to the CMO Series podcast, where we discuss all things marketing and business development in professional services. I'm Charlie Knight, and in this very special edition of the podcast, we're going to hear just some of the highlights from our first stateside CMO Series live event, which took place in New York last month. Now, I'm very happy to be joined by Natasha Sandamas, our Events Manager here at Passle, to tell us all about it. So, welcome to the podcast, Natasha. How are you doing today?

Natasha: Thank you, Charlie. I'm really good. And thanks so much for having me on.

Charlie: No, welcome. So, so pleased to have you here. It's probably about time as well. So can you tell us what CMO Series Live is and what we set out to do?

Natasha: Absolutely. Yeah. So CMO Series Live, it's our flagship event here at Passle. So it's a one day conference where we bring together essentially the full ecosystem of senior marketing leaders, from law firms and we bring them together with leading technology providers all under one roof and a huge emphasis of the day is on high quality content and a lot of networking as well.

Charlie: Fantastic and why New York this year?

Natasha: We actually launched the event for the first time in London last year, which followed the same concept. But we always knew from then that we wanted to bring it over to the US. So obviously the UK is our home ground, but we then have since branched over to the US. So it always made a lot of sense for us to do that. And so we conducted a lot of research just to make sure that it was the right decision and we did consider a number of different locations across the US but ultimately New York just made the most sense for us for a number of reasons. The main one being really that it's just such a hub of law firm offices which was obviously a big bonus for us and it's just one of those cities that's quite easy for most of our network to get to which is quite a key element for us as well.

Charlie: Brilliant. I guess before we get into some of the highlights from the sessions what was the highlight of the day for you 

Natasha: Well it's a good question honestly I think rather than there being one specific moment for me it was all about those small moments that just really kind of highlighted to me like what a fantastic community we have that we're working with. You know we said at the start of the day that we wanted to see our attendees all engaged with each other you know we actually set them a challenge that we wanted everyone there to meet someone new that day and I think everyone just really rose to that we had such fantastic engagement throughout every session of the day and there was just so so many laughs along the way if I could have a second highlight I would also definitely say seeing the reactions of our speakers when when they saw themselves on the billboard for the first time. For anyone who was not at the conference, we hired a pretty huge billboard that was directly opposite our venue. So it was visible from inside the building as well. And we basically put each of our speakers up there on the big screen where they belong. All of our speakers were just genuinely so fantastic. We could not have asked for better. And I know our audience took a lot of value from those sessions as well.

Charlie: Oh, brilliant. Well, I was there and I can say that it was an incredible day as well. But for all of our listeners, we are now going to dive into all of the sessions from the day and just hear a few of the highlights from the brilliant speakers that you just mentioned there. First up, we hear from Trish Lilley, the Chief Marketing and Business Development Officer at Thompson Coburn. And she led a masterclass on building influence and gaining buy-in for change, sharing her insight on what it takes to build really strong teams. 

Trish: MIT did this study, and they found that the most effective teams, the smartest teams, the most successful teams had three consistent elements: diversity, empathy, and women. So, you know, I'm all about that. I'm all about the kids who now wear mismatched socks on purpose, and they're okay with that. Life is so much easier for them than it was for me in high school in the 80s. So I think that these are really key things, and I want to touch on them a little bit. The diversity is, you know, DEI right now, we want to make sure that we have people from diverse backgrounds. But what does that mean? For me, I think you have to consider the broad swath of diversity. Yes, culturally, how people may identify in different ways. You want to make sure that they've got professional backgrounds that are diverse, right? And you want to know what those backgrounds are. It is amazing to me sometimes that people who lead departments or lead teams have absolutely no curiosity about the people that work for them. They don't know what they've done before. They don't know what skills they have. And they really don't benefit from the full strength of that team because they don't ask. I mean, part of being successful is being curious and learning to rely on your team. So I think that this is something that's really important to do. You've got introverts and extroverts, right? But you've got thinkers and you've got doers. You've got people who just fly off and do stuff and they're wacky and whatever. And you can let that incense you and frustrate you, as my bosses are incensed and frustrated by me because I am one of those people. Or you can kind of go like, okay, how do I deploy that in the greater mix of things, right? And how do I take this person who's a thinker and who literally wants to like, consider an idea for more than a minute, whatever, you know, and come back to you three days later with a very thoughtful response, like, where would you use them? And how would you deploy them? And where do they fit into things?

Charlie: Sadie Baron, CMO at Reed Smith, alongside Corporate Communications Director, Phill McGowan, took to the stage to share their journey in creating a world-class digital presence using content, even without having a really strong website.

Sadie: Though Passle wanted us to talk about building a world-class digital, but I'm not very good at doing what I'm told, as most of you will know. So actually what we want to talk about is how we build content that's greater than the website. And this for us is all about how we facilitate the B2B journey to drive revenue. But what I just want to also say is that Phill is actually my corporate communications director. But where we're now traveling towards is how corporate communications and digital actually is business development. And I think we sometimes lose sight of that. So actually, when I think about Phil these days, Phil is facilitating our business development journey every single day. And that, to me, I think is something that we need to keep in mind as we go through a digital strategy. Why are we all doing this? Why are we all here? What are we doing every day? Well, we're all here to drive revenue and build our brand and our reputations. 

Phill: Obviously, law firms have their businesses are built a little bit differently than newspapers. But essentially, I think the message is still the same about meeting people where they are. I alluded to this earlier about reputation. reputation, and I wanted to get a little bit more into this now. So again, this is from Thomson Reuters. So I don't usually read from the slide, most useful drivers to stay top of mind with buyers of legal service. So contact is by far and away the most effective, but probably many of you have seen this before in a certain way. It's three to one over any other indicator. I mean, again, reputation, you see that it's the fifth indicator. So you talk to your lawyers and like, okay, I want awards and submissions. I want chambers rankings. I want this or that. And yes, it matters in a certain way to a certain degree in some settings. But in the grand scheme of things, reputation does not matter, particularly if you're in the room, if you're competing against other law firms who are just like you and you're not really differentiated. Because if you're not really differentiated, then reputation basically like that's on a sliding scale down. So as we're thinking about our content, I think, you know, our point of view is we're not just creating it for the sake of doing this. We want to use the content that we have to arm our lawyers to go engage with the clients. And there's all kinds of good information for which I do not need to elaborate in this room about how clients' behaviors have changed since the pandemic. You know, they're not going off site. They're not staying after work. More of them are working from home. It is harder to get their time and attention. It's harder to get them in person. So how do you create the contact to essentially to give yourself the best opportunity to go and get new work and grow your business? And we think content is a way to do that. And it's not just simply about creating more, but it's also about actually dialing it back in a certain way and finding sort of that right place where you can make those connections. 

Sadie: So it's easy, right? Got it. Going to produce less. We're going to meet our clients where they want us to be. It's not. And there's no magic formula for this. But what I think we've worked out is it's a real evolution of a strategy.

Charlie: In the next session, Kelly Harbour, Chief Business Development Officer at Goulston & Storrs, was joined by Terra Liddell, Chief Marketing Officer at Finnegan, to uncover the impact of data on business development and how they have integrated business intelligence into their respective strategies.

Kelly: People who don't know me, I have a background as a business analyst and IT project manager. I did a lot of technology implementations of marketing technology specifically. And so I have... A pretty good understanding of what the capabilities of data are. And I'm very excited to introduce it into my role. I have over, I've been at Goulston for, it will be 10 years in November, which is kind of crazy to think about. It's gone by pretty quickly. And what we've done during that time is upgrade or replace a number of the core systems that we're using for business decision-making. So we have CRM, ERM, email marketing, all experience, all of those core systems are in place. And we have begun some helpful integrations with things like our financial system, which we use Adderant. And so we are at a very good place with a solid foundation. We are about to announce that we have signed a contract with Entegrada. They are a provider of data lakes. So we're going to essentially be pushing all of our core data elements into the data lake, and then Power BI sits on top of that. So we can get even better without having to do what you would think of as sort of a spaghetti approach to integration, which is many systems integrated with many systems. You push everything into the data lake, and then you have much more of a hub and spoke model. So we are just, again, the announcement should be coming out very soon, next few days, that we are going to go down that path. So what we have, again, are a very solid foundation with core systems. We are able to answer questions that we have about effectiveness, strategy, all of that. What I am looking forward to in the shift, the next phase for us will be, what are the questions I don't know I should be asking? And what types of modeling and analytics Can we put into place to surface the things that I should be paying attention to that I'm not aware of? The questions that, again, I don't know I should be asking. 

Terra: My prior life, I was a graphic designer. I have been within legal marketing for a long time, more than 20 years at Finnegan now. But again, you just have to be yearning for the information and figuring out how to get to it, build that, build that foundation through the information and intel itself, the people around that, and then systems in place. But I do think many think Finnegan, and we have been at this a long time or further along, but literally Kelly and I are right at the same spot right now. I mean, we signed with, and we're not here to talk about Integrata. We signed, happened to be with Integrata as well earlier this year because you've got two firms that are at the same point in recognizing the value of data and working across multiple systems and recognizing the need to get to a data lake for that. And so again, you could have been at this for 15 years and every day and when Kelly raised her hand like she's still doing this you know when we ask the question like every day you're just looking for that next step within Finnegan when I look back in time what we really started with and the reason we did it is I mean I hated answering the same question over and over again and redoing that eight hours of work over and over again. And it's hard to stop and try to find a way and time to say, how can we harness what we did yesterday and not have to redo the work again tomorrow? So building that time into your day and understanding, you know, I think it was Connor this morning that said, start small, like a value of pass a list, start small. It really is start small. Find one question that you don't want to have to look up again end the next day or a week from now and recognize where is that coming from and how can I rely on this consistently so I don't have to recreate the wheel.

Charlie: Nicole Petrie, Chief Marketing and Business Development Officer at Schulte, Roth & Zabel, stepped up to share her approach to deepening the firm-client relationship and driving revenue. In this clip, Nicole shares her analogy for delivering exceptional client experience.

Nicole: I think if you look at all the great brands out there. The client experience is what's actually driving them forward. And companies focused on CX, as I call it, outperform the market. Think of the brands that you buy, right? And it's a key focus. People are like, I've got to be super technical and I've got to have the right price. Yes, but if you do this, they forget about that. And clients pay more. So I was thinking about this coming in, where do I pay more? And I was on the train this morning, I thought, you know, this is a silly, maybe a silly example. Grocery shopping, right? There are cheap grocery stores and I go to them because every now and then I'm just feeling exhausted on a Saturday. I think I might go to Whole Foods. And they pack my bag for me. I see nodding and they're nice and they smile at me and have a great day. And I'm like, oh, I feel good when I come out of Whole Foods, but I paid a little bit more. So that's sort of the really simple adage there that people are willing to pay a lot more if you can. And then I think fast forwarding, what's kind of the science behind this? So I had the privilege when I worked at KPMG to actually spend time and energy with what they call their global client experience team. Wow, they were super smart. And they were consulting our clients around client experience. And they'd worked with, you know, research from Forrester and Gartner. And they came up with this, which I've used a lot. And I wanted to share it with you guys here today, because it's a really good one when you're working with lawyers to say, you know, you can say, I've come across this research or here's some stuff, but I just want to walk you through this. You know, first of all, personal attention. I mean, client experience, understanding specifically what people need and tailoring it to them is so instrumental, right? VIP service, right? White glove. We do it to our lawyers a lot. And this is also everything I'm talking about I think is transferable for the lawyers, but then for the lawyers to do to their clients, right? So as a marketing and BD team, I show this to my team and I say, are you making it easy for them or hard? Are you putting too many barriers in front of them? Your processes, your ways, same with the lawyers going out to clients. I don't know how easy it is to sign the deal sometimes for our clients, procurement and loopholes in six weeks to get your contract and make it easy. 

Charlie: Generative AI is possibly the hottest topic in the world of marketing right now.  And our next pair of guests, Monica Rodriguez Kuniyoshi, Chief Marketing Officer, and Joe Green, Chief Innovation Officer at Gunderson Dettmer, joined CMO Series Live to share how they're leveraging artificial intelligence in their firm and bringing their experts along on the journey.

Monica: 25 years ago, I walked in the doors at Fried Frank, 25 years ago was a different world in legal marketing. It is unrecognizable as an industry, not only the kinds of things that we have to do and are expected to be able to do, but the way that we need to leverage data and information in new and amazingly interesting ways. And for those of you who maybe weren't in this industry 25 years ago, email was new, right? We're really talking about revolutionary changes. And I've often said to my team, You know, the bots are coming, and they're going to come for everybody's job, not just the jobs of the folks who are the easiest to automate. And they're absolutely coming for our jobs too, right? But now the bots are here. Thank you, Joe. But now the bots are here. And it's like, well, how can we enter into a marriage between these technologies and this intuition, this human intelligence, emotional intelligence, the ability to transform. Organizations that can't be done by the bots? Not yet, at least. But it can't be done by them. And that's where we bring something really special. But if we still act like email is new, we would have never gotten here. And if we don't embrace and figure out a way to marry human intelligence with artificial intelligence, we're not going to go where our lawyers need us to go in the future. 

Joe: I think Monica might have been maybe one of our earliest adopters. Even before our risk management folks realized there was this thing called ChatGPT, Monica was an expert prompt engineer coming up with all kinds of great ways to leverage it in her work. And like many of your firms, I'm sure, when GPT-4 came out in March of 2023, I was at a legal tech conference. Our malpractice insurance provider had a blog post that said chat gpt is not ready for prime time and you should all ban it and before i even got back to my desk our risk folks had a memo banning chat gpt for anything including marketing not just using it for practice not just using with client data just no nobody touch it ever you know we had to do some soul searching we are a you know exclusively focused on the innovation economy as a law firm we represent thousands of venture-backed startups and all the top marquee you know venture capital investors. We don't want to look like Luddites. It's a bad look from a marketing perspective for us. So we had to have, you know, a meeting kind of all among our top, you know, our general counsel, our managing partner, our technology management committees, our risk management committees, and kind of hash out what the right approach for us was. And so the way that we ended up going with it was we actually allowed all of our attorneys, as well as all of our business professionals, to use ChatGPT from that point with some guardrails in place. Where we kind of took it a step beyond on that was, you know, because ChatGPT was this public facing, you know, thing like Google, where, you know, anything you put into it, they're going to use it, however, they decide to use it. You know, that was a real concern for us. And while we basically told everyone they could use it, we said, you know, if you're going to use it, you need to make sure that you're not putting anything sensitive, confidential or anything, you know, that can be kind of untangled into that system. So what we decided to do is, you know, we were looking at some of the third party tools that were out there in the marketplace. We saw what they were doing. We had an intrepid engineer. It'd be foolhardy, but it's only foolhardy if it doesn't work. We said, you know what, I think I could build that. And it wouldn't take that long. There's a lot of open source software out there that is just kind of available. And I've been playing with it on the weekends. And I think I could build something. So we ended up building our own internal generative AI tool.

Charlie: In the next session, Christa Crane, Chief Clients and Strategy Officer at Loeb & Loeb, and Julie Chodos, Chief Marketing and Business Development Officer at Axinn, took to the stage to share their insights and secrets to successfully managing people and processes that deliver for their clients and their firms.

Christa: I think for me, because, you know, when you have a partnership model, depending on who you ask, most of them are going to say they're all partners, they're all, you know, the boss of, and that, of course, isn't actually the case. I mean, there are, you can't go to everybody with everything, and I think they do know that, but you can go to every group. And what we would do is, for example, work with a group leader to select a person who we agreed would be a great spokesperson for that department and who we knew was going to be kind of in it with the right spirit. So I think being really careful about how you get to what looks to be a very representative piece of the population without getting to everybody is important. And I think the other thing, too, we spend a lot of time thinking about, are we asking for input or are we, you know, previewing where something's like mostly baked, but you're going to see it before everybody else. Huge difference. And sometimes people don't, you know, love where they get, you know, which of those they get included in. But, you know, it's if you're trying to, you know, really roll something out and quickly across an organization, you know, if you tried to be too, too inclusive, you're just never going to get it done. So I think finding that balance and also being really creative with how you treat those previews and, you know, making them feel like it's special and they're part of the leadership rollout, things like that. You can I think things like that can really make a difference and go a long way.

Julie: Remember walking into a big litigation BD meeting and I said, so this is so exciting. What is your BD plan? And all the partners were like, and I was like, oh, whoops. But I think the process, they have to see it, and they have to know marketing is running it. And we have to be very, not authoritative, but own that process. So we talk about it in ways that resonate with them. The passable governance piece, while we didn't talk a lot about process, we talked a lot about who had the ability to oversee content and what would that look like. So practice chairs felt really good about it. oh, okay, I get to edit it, I get to send it back to somebody, I get to make comments, I do it all on this platform. It's really easy for me as a practice chair because I'm too busy to get all these emails and all these articles and all this other stuff. Oh, and marketing is going to handle the proofing and the posting and picking the right image and all that kind of stuff. So having them not even feel like they're part of a process, but something that feels programmatic and maybe not overemphasizing scale and all of those good words we grew up with in consulting. I know there's a lot of people out of consulting here. I grew up thinking that that's an amazing thing, scale and efficiency. But those words don't really land with lawyers, I don't think, because that's not how they think about running their business. They think about bespoke, specific advice that they give. And how the sausage is made, I don't know that they care that much about that.

Charlie: The afternoon saw a series of panel discussions, beginning with a group of COOs discussing the challenges and opportunities in 2024. Ralph Allen of Kelley Drye and Warren and Jennifer Korff of Brown Rudnick shared their experiences of moving into a chief operating officer role.

Ralph: The thing that you don't know before you go into the job is that it can be a lonely experience. And I say lonely in that if you decide to go to lunch with somebody who you always went to lunch with before, now you're favoring that person or now you're hearing that person more and that you're getting them into a position of difficulty with their peers. So you have to find a way to be friends to everybody, but not be friends with everybody. It was a hard transition. I think I took it more personally than I probably should have that people who I thought were my friends couldn't be the same way anymore. It was a transition. 

Jennifer: My first law firm management role was when I was hired by somebody I had worked for as a summer associate and as an associate, but it was a decade later. I had gone to business school, got my MBA, and they hired me to be their next COO because the COO had announced his intention to retire. One of the biggest challenges there was the fact that it was very lonely, and I was not prepared for that because I had come from places where I had large groups of colleagues, and I loved that about my roles. But in some ways, they saw me the way I was 10 years ago. And that is something you can avoid when you are starting fresh.

Charlie: During the session, the panel uncovered the challenges of the role. Ann Westover, Chief Operating Officer at Axinn, and Adam Kassoff, Chief Operating Officer at Vinson & Elkins, shared their tips for working with and understanding the role of COO.

Ann: I think it's the constant balancing of partner expectations. And I know I 100% did that in the CMO role, but there are so many that they were always just coming to me about the marketing stuff. They come to me about so many more things now. Like you said, I can't fix the IT in the conference room when it's broken, but I get a call about it. It's balancing what they're all thinking about as individuals and trying to get them to understand that, yes, there are little things that come up, but we've got a bigger picture strategy that we're working towards. There are people you can go to for these little things. It doesn't always have to be me. 

Adam: Just understanding some of the pressures that I'm under that may not be obvious to them. It's not like I go around advertising, "Hey, I'm facing this challenge, I'm facing that challenge," unless I need to pull them in. Consequently, sometimes that just results in me not being as available as some of them would want. So it's just a matter of cutting me some slack at times and understanding that I can be pulled in lots of different directions. I'm managing a lot of expectations and a lot of different needs and trying to be appropriately attentive to a wide array of people.

Charlie: Luke Ferrandino, Chief Marketing Officer at Paul Weiss, joins Alison Arjoon, Chief Marketing and Business Development Officer at Fragomen, to discuss their use of technology to stay ahead of the curve. They share their top tips for adopting tech and innovating within a law firm.

Luke: You know, when I think about our philosophy around really everything, but it impacts certainly our approach around technology, we really promote a culture of experimentation within our team. Of course, I'm driving the technology strategy with my MarTech team and with my direct reports, but it's so much better if everyone on the team feels empowered to raise their hand, to kick the tires on different approaches, and feels confident enough to elevate approaches that can improve their day-to-day. With that, we pilot as much as we can, right? So that's really important to us to be able to evaluate a product. Many technology vendors allow you to do that. I think some firms go into that, do the two weeks, and kind of hope for the best. We're pretty methodical about how we run that. We make sure, number one, we have bandwidth to focus on a pilot. Oftentimes, I've worked in many places that have seen this play out. You'll run a two-week pilot, and then nobody actually plays with the tools. So you kind of come at it with no sense for whether it's something that can contribute to the bottom line or not. So, just being methodical about that approach and having that mentality across our department is really how we evolve as a department and as an industry. 

Alison: It's having a great team, having a great culture, and doing things smartly. I'm very excited about technology and AI, and we're going to talk more as we go through this discussion about what's ahead, how we're using it, what we're doing now, and what we're doing as we go forward. It's making things more efficient. It's making things smarter. I talked about our culture being very innovative. Technology is in our DNA. I mentioned how we use it as part of our sales process. That said, when I have to go and say I want to do pay-per-click advertising or convince leadership about hiring more marketing tech folks on my team and focusing on SEO or other areas, I still have to help them understand that and why that's valuable and why that's going to impact the bottom line. And so it's a lot of getting to the top leaders and helping them understand that value, laying it out clearly, and talking about the guardrails and precautions too, because at the end of the day, we are a law firm. That partnership with OGC, that guidance that you want to make certain that you have, that you do things correctly. We're also very focused on our clients, and everything is very collaborative with our clients. When I think of something that needs to be done and I put it forward as a recommendation, having a client backing or a client business case to help support the idea really helps.

Charlie: The penultimate session of the day focused on the role of marketing and BD in driving sales and revenue. Deborah Ruffins, Chief Marketing Officer at Perkins Coie, Shade Vaughn, Chief Marketing and Business Development Officer at Akin Gump, and Crossley Sanford, Managing Director at Ankura, dive into their sales approach and ambitions in their respective firms.

Deborah: I have an actual sales team, quota carrying, territory assigned, out there uncovering opportunities, cultivating relationships, teaching the lawyers how to actually sell. It's not like, "Here's a proposal," you said this earlier, a 50-page proposal, and then, "Can I have the contract, please?" No, it's a much more iterative process. So they run that process for me. My marketing team has a revenue goal, and that's separate from my sales team. My sales team has a revenue goal. It's basically a cost of sales model, a certain X percent times their compensation. They have to deliver that revenue. But the marketing team also has a revenue goal through our traditional sector campaigns, client development, etc. Because I think the way you get alignment is agreeing on the outcome and making the goal big enough that people are scared. When I first introduced this idea a couple of years ago, they were like, "What are you talking about?" It was like $40 million a couple of years ago. It wasn't like marketing doesn't contribute that much in a firm of my size, but they were like, "How are we possibly going to have this responsibility?" And then now it's $200 million.

Shade: I stepped into a firm, and I've only been in the world of legal marketing for about three years. I was very conscious about not wanting to bring in a bunch of new people on the business development side. I want us together to go on this journey. And I would say that as a firm, we're very traditional in the way that the business development team supports the partners. We don't, by and large, participate in meetings. The feedback that we get on how meetings went comes from the partners themselves, which, as everybody in this room understands, it's hard to really get a good understanding of what clients need to hear and what's resonating and what's not. So what I expect to be able to say a year from now is that our entire team sells, like in the same philosophy that Deb is thinking about. I would like our team to be measured and evaluated by whether we actually created demand, both at a firm-wide level and at a practice level. 

Crossley: Sales being everybody's responsibility. And I think that for consulting, our people are our greatest asset. I certainly don't always think that someone necessarily hires you because of your brand or your name recognition, but it's because, "Oh, I know that the person that leads our office, the CFO practice, is the best at what he does." So really having them at the forefront of that and enabling them to sell while also doing the same thing on our side has been pretty key for us in the consulting side, is really engaging our people. But everybody has a role in sales. It's just alignment, alignment, alignment, constantly getting everybody working together with that one goal.

Charlie: In the final session of the day, we were joined by a panel of general counsel to share their perspectives on what positions a law firm as the best and first choice. Brian Rauch, General Counsel at Harvard Maintenance, Julie Aslaksen, General Counsel at Host Hotels, Alex Dimitrief, General Counsel at Sotera Health Company, and Lisa Anastos, General Counsel at IdeaQuest, shared their top tips for attracting clients and successfully working with GCs.

Brian: Being a labor and employment lawyer, kind of a little bit of an HR junkie, the whole concept of being able to put a culture together and motivate a team of 10,000 employees and be a leader in the industry and put, we always say, people first in our industry, which in janitorial and security, it's not always the case or not always believed to be the case, was really appealing to me. Honestly, there's a lot of research out there that people work for bosses. And I think I have two of the best bosses in the world, the owners of the company. The interview process and everything did that, right? I didn't interview with them in a boardroom only. That was the first interview. We went out for dinner. They met my wife. They asked to see pictures of my kids. So it was the whole culture aspect of it and being able to put that culture into the business as a business partner that really appealed to me.

Julie: I just, I'd say one thing sort of turning it back to you all is it highlights why the relationship with the law firms is so important for the general counsel, because the call, I heard the word culture and caring and community and those things, right? So we need law firms that operate in the same way and law firms that will take the time to understand what our company cares about and what our culture is like. So one of the things that's so important to me, you know, in a law firm is that they take time to learn, you know, they understand our risk profile, they understand our culture, they understand, you know, our hot button issues. When a law firm does that, that is just gold, right? That is what I want and sort of a partner when I'm looking for a firm. So and it's because I care about all those things that you talked about. I mean, I always say we're saving the world one luxury hotel at a time at Host Hotels, but we do a lot of amazing things in the communities, right? These hotels really do in a time of crisis, whether it's the Maui wildfires fires or challenges. And, you know, after hurricanes, the hotels really become these safe havens. And again, I want a law firm that has similar values and a similar culture and aligns with that.

Brian: I hire lawyers to protect our reputation as much as to protect our pocketbooks, right. It's a brand image and the lawyers have to go along with it. I don't want someone who's going to win a case and kill my image. 

Julie: Well, I want them to care about it, right? I want them to be invested enough to care as much as I do about, you know, how the CEO is going to feel if we get this issue wrong or something like that.

Alex: So can I follow up on a point you guys raised because it really resonates with me too? And for the audience. To me, the most important thing that you can articulate when you want to represent a company like ours is why you want to do it. And it's not, well, because we're really great and we can provide you unique service as a law firm. That may be true, but being able to articulate what it is about a particular company that attracts you to representing them. What is it about their culture? What is it about what they do? What is it about opportunities that it offers that intrigues the men and women at your law firm about working with us. It surprises me and disappoints me how little work law firms do sometimes to understand what makes a company tick and what it does and what it needs. And just being able to really articulate why you want to be a partner with us. What is it about what we do that intrigues you and wants you to devote 1,000, 2,000, 20,000 hours over the next 10 years to working with us, to me, is the most credible way to start a new relationship.

Lisa: And I'm going to take it a different angle. Like, it's culture, but it's also, you'll be surprised, understand my product. Understand what I do. And I think, you know, that seems so basic, but I've been shocked by people who don't understand, like, one-on-one. I'm in a fintech company, you know, and we focus on mobile authentication. You've got to understand what I'm doing. And if you don't understand the basic, like read my website, read about me, that's a problem. How can you give me guidance if you don't understand what I'm doing and what perspective I'm looking at? So some of the basics, you'll be surprised how many people forget about the basics of understanding your client's customer, understanding what your clients do, because that's important because you're going to give me better guidance. Like what I love about being in-house is I understand my company the best. As outside counsel, you're not going to understand my company the best, but you need to at least to know the basics. I can take what you guide me and then add it and get back information like this is the nuances of my business. You have to understand the basic of my business to properly advise me. So that to me is like from a high level, you know, know your customer 101.

Charlie: So Natasha, just to wrap up this brilliant highlights podcast from CMO Series Live in New York. Can you tell us a bit more about what the plans are for next year?

Natasha: Absolutely. So we definitely know that we want to bring it back to the US, more specifically New York again, to make it an annual event in everyone's calendar. So at the moment, the main thing on my agenda is just securing a date. And I'm always open to feedback and ideas from our attendees. So definitely do reach out if you're listening and you've got any thoughts. We've already had some fantastic feedback that's going to really help us to shape the event next year. But my ears are always open for more.

Charlie: Excellent. And how can listeners find out more?

Natasha: We announce all of our events via a few means, mainly our Insiders Club newsletter, which people can subscribe to via our website. And of course we do lots of announcements on our social media as well so connect with us on LinkedIn if you aren’t already.

Charlie: Fabulous, that's brilliant thank you Natasha. So that's all for this episode. We hope you enjoyed the highlights from CMO Series Live in New York and we'll be sharing the full content from each of the sessions with you in the coming weeks. Subscribe to CMO Series Podcast wherever you get your podcasts and head to to catch all of the content from the day. Thank you for listening.


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