The Intersection of Compensation, Economics and Marketing: Boston February Lunch Program Sneak Peek

LMANE Boston will gather on Wednesday, February 13 for its first lunch program of 2019 – "The Intersection of Compensation, Economics and Marketing” – with Paul R. Morton, Chief Operating Officer at Burns & Levinson. Paul will provide insights on how business development and marketing professionals can help lead the discussion on law firm profitability and compensation. A strategic leader with extensive experience in middle-market law firms, Paul leads an outstanding team of professionals who manage the areas of finance, technology, human capital, marketing, business development and operations. 

For a sneak peek at the program, we asked Paul what attendees can expect from his presentation. 

Q. What is your background with law firm economics and compensation strategies?

I have served for many years as the senior administrator in a number of law firms, including a 10-attorney firm, a 35-attorney firm, a firm that grew to 100 lawyers and was ultimately acquired by a large national firm, and now a 130- lawyer Burns & Levinson based in Boston. For all of these firms I was responsible for financial components, either directly or through staff who reported to me. This included budgeting, financial analysis and modeling and compensation for staff, associates and partners. I have participated in compensation committees through almost all of these firms and experienced different approaches to compensation and motivation. Regardless of the size of the firm the challenges are the same, but how to deal with those challenges are varied, and I learned that there is no “one-size-fits-all.” I have also learned that while accounting is black and white (or so my CFO says), compensation is a combination of science and art, much like marketing.

Q. What do you hope attendees will learn from your presentation?

I have learned that many marketing professionals are not exposed to the financial operations of their firms and are not as familiar with the cost structures and economic realities that drive our firms, nor are they privy to compensation. I hope they will come away with a better understanding of how firms operate financially, ideas on a few different approaches to compensation that they may not have been aware of, the challenges of rewarding effort and/or results and how you “get what you pay for.”

Q. Will legal marketers from small to mid-size firms come away with actionable strategies to apply to their respective firms?

It is hard to have an “actionable strategy” on this subject, particularly since all the various components do not usually fall within the bailiwick of marketing professionals. However, knowledge can be power. The marketers should come away with ideas on what questions to ask, what information they should see that they currently don’t have, what things to focus on regarding how their firm operates and makes decisions and some thoughts on gentle ways to encourage change. This can be a very challenging area, one that may require a fresh or different way of looking at what the firm currently does and what it might do, and change is often difficult to accept. By having a better understanding of the different components of expenses, profitability, compensation strategies and business development, legal marketers may be better positioned to have informed conversations with their partners regarding this subject.

Q. What is the link between business development and law firm compensation strategies?

In the ideal world, there should be an alignment between business development efforts and the firm’s reward systems, usually viewed as compensation. Far too often there are inconsistencies between the two. Lawyers are smart, and will ultimately work in a manner that will result in their highest potential short-term compensation. Developing this alignment, along with developing marketing and business development activities, can take a long time and may require patience to see results.  

RSVP for the program here.

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