Law Firm 101

On June 26, the Future Leaders SIG hosted their third Brownbag Lunch event of 2014, “Law Firm 101.”   Ezra Crawford, LMA Capital Chapter past-president and Director of Marketing at BuckleySandler LLP, led the presentation on law firm economics, budgeting, and the general structure of a marketing department.

Ezra provided a basic overview of law firm economics and finance.  He explained how profits work in law firms and that equity partners are paid a percentage of the profits while everyone else receives a salary.  The percentage of each partner depends on a number of factors, including origination credit levels, hours billed, seniority, firm management responsibilities, business development activities, and others.  Ezra reviewed how marketing fits into the compensation structure and why partners should (and do) care about marketing:  Originations are the clearest measure of criteria when considering compensation, and business development and marketing helps partners increase their originations, which leads to higher compensation and a higher percentage of profits per partner. 

With all of this in mind, Ezra stressed that marketers should think of marketing and business development activities in terms of a framework.  It is important to stay focused on the big picture. No matter how small a project may seem, being proactive and adding value will help one stand out.   

Additionally, Ezra provided a typical legal marketing department breakdown: 

  • Business Development
  • Marketing Technology
  • Communications/Public Relations
  • Events 

For all new legal marketers, Ezra said it's important to pick a focus within legal marketing, and be great at it. Incorporate framework activities by working with individuals in all areas of the marketing department, and become indispensable.

Finally, Ezra answered questions from the audience:

  • What is the difference between equity and non-equity:  everyone non-equity is salaried
  • Chambers/directories:  they are not going anywhere so accept them, and there are legitimate reasons to complete them, but limit them to a few surveys
  • What surprises has he encountered in his career:  lawyers are nice, law firms have a high level of inertia, and lawyers are very coachable

Thank you to Ezra for taking the time to provide such a great overview of law firms and legal marketing’s role in the firm!

Our next Brownbag lunch event will be a roundtable discussion on August 28 – “Business Development: What the Heck am I Doing?”  We hope that all those who are new to legal marketing can make it.  If you are interested in joining the group, please contact Kara Kane at kkane@steptoe.com.

By Kara Kane, Sr. Business Development Coordinator, Steptoe & Johnson LLP for the July/August 2014 Issue of the Capital Ideas Newsletter

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