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The Mad Clientist

What Law Firm CMOs Love and Hate about Their Jobs

By January 31, 2018April 16th, 2020No Comments

Law firm CMOs are basically split—45% are happy and fully engaged. This leaves more than half who are not.

At 35%—the biggest segment of CMOs rate their jobs an 8 of 10. It’s good, they like it—but does not cross the line into thrilled, awesome, or fully engaged.

Another 20% put their job satisfaction at 7 of 10 or lower. This is the level where frustration breaks through. These CMOs may enjoy some aspects of their job—but the balance between happiness and frustration is out of whack. These CMOs are on the prowl for a new job.

CMOs from both halves of the spectrum shared what makes them so happy—or not.

Why CMOs Love Their Job

  1. Making a strategic impact
  2. Watching partners gain BD skills
  3. Improving client service
  4. Freedom to make decisions
  5. Engaging attorneys
  6. Feeling valued
  7. Intellectual challenge
  8. Strategic challenge
  9. Serving as voice of the client

Why CMOs Hate Their Job

  1. No respect for marketing and business development
  2. No voice
  3. Firm’s internal focus
  4. Perfunctory work
  5. Can’t engage attorneys
  6. Stress
  7. Workload






    How to Move Up the Happiness Scale

    Find your friends. Virtually every law firm has partners who value marketing and business development somewhere. Find these partners. Focus your energy on helping these individuals. You will feel valued almost immediately once you help someone. Once you help one attorney it becomes contagious. Others will seek you out.

    Think small victories. You are in a war which you can win by fighting battles. Think about all the choices in front of you—where can you create a win? No matter how small, victories help your firm and you. And, one victory begets another. Any victory can change your own world view.

    Don’t take it personally. The barriers and situations you face were there before you arrived. Separate out marketing and business development from yourself—most firms react to the function—not you.

    Speak your voice—and be prepared to speak it many times. You know your marketing and business development ideas cold—like no one else ever could. And they don’t. Each discussion you have is an opportunity to illustrate how you, and your skills, can help attorneys develop and win more business. If the message doesn’t resonate—find the partners where it does.

    Speak your voice again. Share your best ideas. Not all your ideas—but your best ideas. Find someone on your staff or a friendly partner to brainstorm with to get counsel on which ideas will have the most impact. And be prepared for the long selling cycle accompanying any new idea.

    Stop banging your head against a wall. Some CMOs just don’t click at some firms. If you can’t get anyone’s attention and get things to work—move on. You and the firm will be better off.

    Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood

    CMOs are one of the least understood members of the law firm management team. Success demands you market yourself within your firm.

    Happy CMOs spend substantial time thinking about how they can make their voice heard and make the benefits they offer in their voice. It’s intuitive to many. They find, focus on, and fight for victories where they can make an impact. They engage with attorneys whenever possible and start with the partners who see value in MBD. They know their happiness, and success, lies in their ability to make things happen—and like all else in marketing—your clients (the firm) has to see the compelling value.


    (This research is based on interviews with more than 180 law firm marketing leaders conducted over the last 12 months.)

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