Who’s leading BD and marketing functions in law firms, how senior are they, who do they report to, and where have they come from?
At the start of a new decade, has the marketing and/or business development (MBD) leader at a top law firm increased their influence? Well, the proportion with a ‘C-level’ job title in this year’s Briefing Leaders report is double that of only a year ago (4% to 9%). But does that mean more power to decide what matters, or mere ‘title inflation’ at work? We do know that half also say they have a seat (or part of one) on the board – although twice as many leaders in our smallest revenue band say that compared with direction-setters at the largest global firms. Other promising signs include 40% saying they report to their managing partner; 25% to the CEO. Only 5% say it’s the COO for them. And there’s plenty of variation in MBD team size (getting bigger as firms make more money, just as you’d surely expect) – though as a benchmark figure, a full 82% have a team of 50 or fewer to manage. Elsewhere, there are some arguably more concerning signs – firms today are no ‘better’ at bringing in leaders of this function from a non-legal career background than they were seven years ago (56% arrived from another law firm). There has also been a drop in the number of women BD leaders, notably at the largest firms.
Leaders of MBD functions haven’t always enjoyed unrestrained support – so the increasing proportion of C-levels leaders, perhaps with a seat on the board, should be a welcome development.
Partial to partnership profs?
Legal has long had a tendency to recruit primarily from within its own sector, either from other firms, or by promoting lawyers up to oversee business services functions – marketing and business development is no different.
Two team streams by firm size
Seniority and authority can be measured not only be who a leader reports to, but also by who reports to them – hence our survey of MBD team sizes this year. It’s obvious from the get-go that this metric is closely linked to team sizes.