Earlier this summer we sent an Industry “Snapshot” Survey to Heads of Marketing/BD at top law firms. We were especially interested in capturing the current structure of departments (i.e. BD vs. Mar/Comm), size of department vs. firm size, and where firms are investing in additional talent. We’ve recently finished the analysis and it provided several insights into the current state of law firm Marketing/BD departments.
The survey showed a clear emphasis on expanding the BD function. We also found that once firms are over 250 attorneys, there is about a 2:1 ratio of BD to Mar/Comm professionals. These numbers, as well as the high percentage of NEW roles being added in BD, are very reflective of what we have been seeing in the hiring market over the last 18 months – namely, a strong focus on growing the BD function.
Although we have been very successful at finding BD talent in the legal market, these searches are often challenging due to the fact that the number of new openings has actually exceeded the number of qualified candidates. The reason for this is two-fold:
1) 5+ years ago, there were very few BD professionals hired in law firms; so if you are searching for a BD Manager with 5+ years of experience, they are not there.
2) From 2010-2013 most firms had hiring freezes, so there was very little hiring which translates to minimal trained talent in BD.
Knowing all this, we encourage you to hold on tight to top BD talent that you do have, because they have many opportunities at this time. One of the best ways to do this is to focus on their career development. Based on previous law firm BD/Marketing surveys, when we asked law firm BD/Marketing professionals why they would leave their current job, the most frequent answer was “Career Growth.” If you invest in your current talents’ career development, by offering them training to help them to expand their skills and professionalism, you will not only end up with better trained talent, but you will also increase your chances of retaining them.