Career Outlook 2010: Get Out Those Sunglasses

You may have noticed a recent uptick in legal marketing recruiting. Hiring freezes are thawing, recruiters are calling, and law firms are strategically cherry-picking for both lawyers and staff.  I asked Steve Nelson, Managing Principal of The McCormick Group (an executive search consultancy), to weigh in on law firm hiring trends over the last couple of years. 
 
According to Steve, at least the last two years have been difficult for most law firms, but marketing and business development has seen less downsizing than in other areas, such as associate, counsel and partner hiring, and human resources.  The good news is that things are turning around.  "We have seen a sea of change...in the past few months," Steve says.  "There are many more positions available as firms have become a little more sure about the economic situation."  These positions are more practice-specific than generalist, beckoning a certain level of familiarity with subject matters.
 
The competition for legal marketing jobs is there, but is less of a threat these days, says Steve.  "There are a great number of former associates seeking marketing and business development positions.  They are having a difficult time because most firms now understand the value of professionals with real marketing experience."
 
To remain competitive, Steve recommends that jobseekers thoroughly research the legal marketing profession, understanding its trends and intricacies.  Jobseekers should engage in "peer-review" exercises to learn what firms compete in the same business space (a great tip for the increase in practice-specific jobs).  Networking, he says, is a time-tested and effective tool that reaches farther than simply applying to a job posting, and social networking sites such as LinkedIn and Twitter make networking that much easier.  Steve's final piece of advice for an edge on the competition?  Continuing education.  He refers to the legal management program at George Washington University that is offered in both certificate and master's degree formats.  Traditional business education could also serve as additional "oomph" for a candidate.  Says Steve, "I would never underestimate the value of having an MBA."  Personally, I wouldn't either.
 
By Faith Brinkley, marketing coordinator at Bryan Cave LLP, for the November/December 2010 Issue of the Capital Ideas Newsletter

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