In order to properly market a firm, or a specific practice area, whether M&A or white-collar crime, it’s key to define the proper target audience and how a firm can position and truly differentiate itself in a crowded marketplace. Only by creating and communicating a defined strategy and tactical plan can effective business development and marketing communications take place.
While the approach to each situation will be unique, the tactics used to develop a strategic plan often involve competitor analysis, examination of a firm’s current client portfolio, and conducting partner and client surveys. And once the strategy is defined, the tactics may include guidance on internal communication and the use of social media and technology-related tools.
Deborah Farone is a sought-after keynote speaker at conferences and law, consulting and technology organization retreats throughout the U.S., Europe, and Asia. She currently serves along with Brad Karp of Paul Weiss as the co-chair of PLI’s annual “All Star Business Development for Lawyers” and for several years, served as a co-chair of American Lawyer Media’s Legalweek conference.
As a former adjunct lecturer and the former President of the New York Chapter of the Legal Marketing Association, she is well-versed on exciting ways to capture an audience’s attention, involve them in the content and provide actionable take-aways.
She is a regular speaker at programs hosted by The International Bar Association, The Association of Corporate Counsel, The New York Bar Association, The Legal Marketing Association, and Thomson Reuters.
She believes that all presentations should be customized to an audience’s particular needs and goals. Some of the topics on which she has recently presented include:
- Best Practices in Law Firm Business Development and Marketing, Key Influences Shaping the New Legal Profession and What the Future May Hold
- Personal Branding: How Your Professional Brand Profile Can Advance Your Business, Career and Network
- Innovation and Creativity
- Creating a Rainforest: How the Country’s Leading Rainmakers Develop Business
- The Necessary Steps: Building a Successful Individual Practice
- Practices Make Perfect: Creating Your Best Strategic Practice Plans and a Business Development Network
- Starting with Raindrops: Rainmaking for New Partners
- Rainmaking for Women and Other Minority Groups
- Media Marketing: Marketing with Traditional and Social Media
- The Inside Scoop: Creating and Operating a First-Class Marketing Department
Marketing Management and Audits
For a firm to achieve its business goals, its marketing and business development teams must be structured to align and support the organization’s overall strategy.
Deborah has led several ALM 100 law firms in conducting marketing audits to help create marketing and business development departments that will help them achieve their goals. By applying her business development and marketing process improvement skills and knowledge of industry benchmarking, Farone Advisors is uniquely positioned to help firms with actionable one, three or five-year plans.
While each assignment will have its unique structure based on the particular firm’s needs and its culture, these audits often involve reviews of marketing and strategy materials and interviews with organization leaders, partners, staff, and clients. By having all of the necessary information, Farone Advisors can help realign a marketing department structure and position the firm for long-term success. As part of longer-term engagements, Deborah has also worked on a retainer basis to successfully create senior job descriptions and locate C-suite professionals, including CMOs and CCOs for leading law firms.
Training & Coaching
Working with professional practices and companies to develop their business requires a highly bespoke process based on an in-depth understanding of individuals’ talents and the marketplace for their work. Often, a one-on-one coaching program is the best approach to help lawyers learn these skills.
Coaching can be conducted on the individual, practice or firm level and is based on the belief that each professional will have a highly nuanced practice and unique strengths and capabilities. Deborah and her Farone Advisors colleagues, partner with individuals and firms to help define an actionable roadmap and to coach them to attract those clients best suited for their practice. Because of the select nature of the practice, each year, Farone Advisors only takes a small group of people for individual coaching/consulting work.
Deborah works closely with the coachee as a marketing and business coach to help them better understand themselves, their communication and marketing style and their strengths and weaknesses. She will work with the coachee to map out their individual strategy and the tactics they are considering pursuing. In addition, she will serve as a sounding board to help the coachee think through and select strategies to achieve their objectives.
The structure of the work will be determined between the coach and the coachee, and together they will develop a customized program with agreed-upon objectives that match the firm’s strategic plan. There are lots of new vehicles and tactics that allow for any given lawyer to become more well-known. The question to ask at the beginning of the process is, “What do you want to be well-known for?” Developing one or two areas where you want to focus your practice is an essential first step. Next, ask yourself, what is there that I can provide to clients better than most other lawyers, more unusual than others or in need by the market? What are my unique qualifications? They should turn to tactics only once the coachee can address these questions and have clear objectives in mind. Unless you know what practice or skill set you want to be known for, it’s impossible to take steps to develop a practice.
Deborah and her team encourage the coachee to ensure that management agrees with the goals and the general tactics to be utilized.
The individual coachee will agree to a minimum of four 60-minute coaching sessions, and meetings generally take place via Zoom.
While a law firm or consulting firm’s brand is an essential ingredient in helping to support marketing, individual lawyers need to have a position within the marketplace. Media relations, social media, speaking engagements are part of what can make the difference between being asked to the new business pitch or being excluded. Deborah helps both lawyers, practice areas and firms as they develop objectives and create tactics to differentiate themselves in the marketplace and find opportunities to get the word out.
In addition. today’s world is awash with negative business news, whether sparked by an individual’s action, a business misstep, a breach of cybersecurity, or an act of nature. Reputations are your most valuable asset. They are difficult to build and easy to destroy.
When faced with the impact of a crisis on employees, clients, or partners, it’s important to have an experienced advisor involved to help guide your organization to help get through the minefields. Deborah’s experience on the frontline, both in-house and an outside advisor, provide a unique perspective when facing the unexpected.
What Leaders in the Profession Say
Deborah Farone is the leading expert in law firm marketing. Not only has she studied this complex topic from at the peak of the legal profession, her research into what works and what doesn’t is priceless for anyone interested in growing their business. Heidi K. Gardner, PhD, Distinguished FellowHarvard Law School’s Center of the Legal Profession and author of Smart Collaboration: How Professionals and Their Firms Succeed by Breaking Down Silos
Deborah is a connector, linking clients and legal service providers. She is our go-to person when we are looking for authentic industry knowledge and insights on where the legal market is trending. Connie BrentonFounder of CLOC, V.P. of Law, Technology, and Operations, NetApp Inc.
Deborah helped us at Cravath develop internal systems from the ground up and obtained experience through working in the trenches and dealing with the most challenging marketing and public relations issues in professional services. C. Allen ParkerInterim CEO and President, Wells Fargo & Company
Being savvy to best practices in business development is more critical now than ever. Deborah Farone is an industry leader who helps professionals navigate the evolving legal landscape. She brings an exceptional wealth of notable experience, insight, and forward thinking that continues to elevate our profession. Cynthia P. VothDirector of Client Engagement & Innovation, Miller Nash Graham & Dunn LLP, Legal Marketing Association President - 2019
Grace under fire. The clear-headed thinking to be a visionary when surrounded by hundreds of genius lawyers. The grit to survive the twists and turns that are modern law firms. Those are just three of the traits needed to succeed as an elite legal CMO. Farone has those and more. Katrina DeweyFounder and CEO, Lawdragon
Deborah Farone has a unique perspective on the modern American law firm. Her years of experience inside “big law” make her an invaluable source for those who provide and consume legal services. Evan CheslerChairman, Cravath, Swaine & Moore LLP
The gold standard in marketing. Ralph FerraraSenior Advisor, Brown Rudnick and former General Counsel of the SEC
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