Sarah has  enjoyed a successful career at Latham & Watkins having come from a non-marketing, non-legal qualified background. Like many she ‘fell’ into the sector but is an advocate for graduates considering marketing as a career, and talks to us about why legal marketing truly offers a life-time career.

Key business role

 

1.What makes law firms different?

The opportunity to really learn. You’re immersed in the legal sector without needing to be a lawyer yet you’re working on  thought leadership and pitches that directly affect the economy and markets, locally and/or globally. You’re relied upon for the skills you bring to the law firm by not being a lawyer – as you’re able to bring a fresh viewpoint and identify when the marketing produced is too ‘legal’ and sometimes inaccessible to the broader public, and indeed the law firm clients.

 

2.What has surprised you most about law firms?

How grateful the firm is of my efforts and contribution. I am now relied upon to come up with ideas for thought leadership campaigns, working out which channels are best to use - for example, doing an event series or pushing content through social media. I develop and manage client relationships and new client targeting, research into new markets the firm could work in, and come up with client initiatives such as how to encourage cross-selling within the firm. Everything BD and marketing do is directly responsible for building the brand, which is at the forefront of the firm’s success. We are a key part of the business and you can feel it.

Proactive approach

 

3.You’ve been promoted twice at a top global law firm and have had the opportunity to work on international projects within BD and work with lawyers globally. What do you think has made you successful?

I’ve tried to use every opportunity to expand my skillset across marketing and business development which helps me to truly advise the lawyers. It’s very easy to feel like you’re too busy, but my best advice is to put your hand up whenever you can to get involved in those ‘extra’ projects – whether global BD initiatives, internal process improvement, secondments or whatever is open to you.

It is also important to try your best to continue being proactive. Marketing and business development techniques are going to keep evolving, which is part of what makes these roles so exciting.

I also make the effort to get to know everyone and build relationships so they know what I can offer them, and they are happy to help me learn too. I thought it would be all pitches – copy and pasting in a transactional manner – but it’s so much more.

When you’re younger, you think you’re supposed to move on quickly to progress your career, an attitude which I have seen in legal BD. But I have taken time to develop and try new aspects of BD and marketing within Latham & Watkins, which has given me the ability to understand the bigger picture. I know everyone isn’t as fortunate as me to find such a supportive firm and team from the outset, but I believe it’s important to be in a role for long enough to see your impact. In turn, my commitment has reaped benefits in terms of training both internally and externally and a secondment to the firm’s Asia offices.

 

4.What advice would you give to a recent graduate or someone looking to transfer into the legal sector?

Come in with an open mind and be ready to learn. This isn’t a job for someone who doesn’t want to learn, both skilfully and intellectually. Don’t rush and take the time to build relationships as you will soon see the benefits. Above all, legal business development is good for someone who thrives on building their knowledge and developing relationships.

The legal sector is at an exciting point of its development in ever-changing roles and new positions to market regularly. 

Sarah was interviewed by Totum consultant Lacey Palmer

Huge thanks to Sarah for participating in this Q&A, which provides invaluable insights into working in the legal profession. If you would be interested in sharing your own experiences of working in business services in law, contact [email protected] 

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