Posted Mar 30, 2011 11:00 am CDT
If BigLaw branding worked, Howrey would have survived, according to a onetime public relations consultant for the law firm.
If clients selected Howrey based on the institution, they would have continued to support the law firm, even as partner departures mounted, writes John Hellerman in an article (PDF) for Law360. It’s a cliché, but clients hire the lawyer, not the law firm, writes Hellerman, who was an outside PR consultant for Howrey between 1996 and 2001.
Marketers should promote individual partners and their expertise, with the law firm’s reputation serving as a credential for the lawyers, according to Hellerman. But he sees yet another function for marketers—selling the law firm brand to its own partners and to potential laterals.
In Howrey’s case, partners became discontented because of a perceived lack of transparency in decision-making and leaders’ failure to confront a drop in law firm revenue, according to a Washington Post story. Good marketing might have prevented that, he speculates.
“It is within the power of marketers to make a difference,” he writes. “But for a firm to make the most of its marketing function, its leadership must allow marketers to go beyond business development in the traditional sense and aggressively support the HR and recruiting functions, making marketing a valuable asset to the firm’s retention and recruiting efforts.”