Luke Ferrandino is the Global Director of Business Development and Marketing at Fried, Frank, Harris, Shriver & Jacobson LLP. As part of our Q&A career development series with LMA Northeast leaders, we asked him about his current role, his career path and what he thinks are the keys for success for legal marketers today.
Tell us about what you do. What’s a typical day like for you?
One of the things I love about my job is that there aren’t any typical days. With my team, I am responsible for setting and executing the range of the firm’s marketing and business development strategies, so one day I could be focused on launching business development initiatives and the next day I’ll be planning a partners’ retreat. I typically arrive to the office around 8am and spend the first hour of my morning catching up on the news of the day. After that, I’m typically bouncing around from meeting to meeting—some with firm leaders and partners, and others with the marketing team and other staff members. I try to leave the office by 6pm at least two days a week to help my wife put our young children to sleep, but I’ll log back on for a couple more hours to advance the various projects I am working on, wrap up loose ends that I couldn’t get to during the day and prep for the next day.
What do you think is the key for success as a legal marketer today?
Similar to how clients now expect more value from their law firms, I believe that lawyers now expect more out of their marketing teams. This is a great development for our industry as it thrusts us into a more strategic advisory role and positions us as true specialists in guiding the firm’s marketing and BD strategy. While we will always have to execute on the “operational” aspects of our jobs, every role in a marketing department presents an opportunity to act strategically. The more that legal marketers can spend the extra time and effort to find avenues to advance and provide value to clients, prospective clients, referral sources and recruits, the more valuable to the firm we become.
How did you get started in legal marketing?
After I graduated from college I had every intention of going to law school. A family friend who was a lawyer convinced me to work in a firm before committing to law school and I took a paralegal job at Fried Frank. While I loved the culture of the firm, I quickly realized that being a lawyer wasn’t for me. After about a year and half, I had the opportunity to join Davis Polk’s marketing team, in a business development role responsible for several major practices. I loved my job and my teammates at Davis Polk and stayed there for seven years, learning an incredible amount about BD and marketing strategy for nearly every major practice in that firm. Shortly after joining I saw the tremendous opportunity in the field and realized I wanted to make a career out of it. It turned out to be a good decision!
Do you have a graduate degree? Why do you feel this was a worthwhile investment?
Yes, I earned my MBA in Marketing and Finance from Fordham University. Fordham has a great program that is very flexible with people who want to earn their degree on a part-time basis, and it was invaluable to my career growth. While it was challenging balancing my work responsibilities and schedule with the MBA program, it was amazing to be in classes in the evening and take what I was learning and apply it the next day in a real-world setting. I carry with me many of the approaches and lessons I learned through the program and it opened up a number of doors for advancement. I highly encourage legal marketers to pursue advanced degrees—it is well worth the investment.
When do you know it is time to move on to a new role, either internally or externally?
It is never an easy decision when considering a new role. I have spent long stints at two different firms and in both instances I decided to leave because I: 1) felt that I had accomplished and learned as much as I could in the current role; 2) wanted to pursue new challenges or areas that I believed would help round-out my skill-set; and 3) desired to learn from people or firms that I admired. Too often, people bounce around from firm-to-firm after 18 or 24 months for a bit more money and slightly better title. That should never be the focus, in my opinion. It is impossible to really learn much in 18 months, and if you are working in a healthy and high-functioning department there will always be advancement opportunities. If you work hard and demonstrate capacity for additional responsibility, the salary and titles you are pursuing will come and you will be that much more skilled, valuable and marketable.