As featured in the fall issue of “The Legal Navigator.”
Deborah Farone, Author, Strategic Advisor and Former Chief Marketing Officer at Cravath, Swaine & Moore
“I reached a place in my career where I had done several different things—working at a global PR firm and in management consulting, and then, with two wonderful law firms—and I needed to do something different. I wasn’t sure what it was going to be. I thought of setting up a consulting firm, but at the same time, I was also approached by PLI about writing a book on legal marketing. They thought there was a need in the marketplace to tell both lawyers and marketers what today’s state of the profession was and what the best practices were around the globe. I saw it as a challenge, but I felt I might be able to do something that would be valuable to people.
When I started in law firm marketing, law firms were relatively new to the idea of thinking about branding or unique selling propositions. While I was fascinated by the law, I knew I did not want to be a lawyer, but I wanted to understand the whole ecosystem of how the legal business worked, from clients making a choice to hire a firm to how firms grew revenue, hired and recruited lawyers.
At Cravath, I had to build the function from the ground up. I started from the beginning, working with the firm’s leadership to set the strategy and help familiarize the lawyers with what marketing was all about.
Many of the successful New York firms grew out of partnerships between two or three lawyers, and they became very successful without contemplating things such as brand or recruiting material. So, it was worrying about the basics, from making sure the phones were answered the same way around the world to making sure that if someone wrote an article we had copyright permission to reprint it. It was explaining why you needed to have a logo and uniformity to a brand. Once that plumbing was in place, I was able to help law firms create business development strategies and begin growing their practices.
It was a challenge, but I always love jumping into a situation and trying to solve Gordian knots. To me, legal marketing was like a puzzle that needed to be figured out. It was also a challenge to be able to build something in an environment working with high-caliber professionals who were demanding, yet incredibly bright and very inquisitive. It was a puzzle worth figuring out. “