The Marketing of Recruiting (LMA White Paper)

By Deborah McMurray and Jeffrey Morgan
Published in Legal Marketing Association

Walt Disney said, “Whatever we accomplish is due to the combined effort. The organization must be with you or you don’t get it done.”

Law firms couldn’t recruit new lawyers during the 1990s the way they did the decade before. The more bodies, the better was the mantra in the mid-eighties. The last decade of the millennium was beleagured with a bust that resulted in lay-offs of many of those bodies, and blessed with a boom that was so feverish that the competition for talent was white hot.

When dot.coms lost their allure and the rest of the technology markets were now viewed in the bright light of day, the young lawyers who billed 2500+ hours a year found themselves without jobs. What in the world happened?!

Well, history does repeat itself – we, at least, have learned that. Cataclysmic growth in law firm leverage is destined to result in lay-offs when client demand isn’t as high. What have law firms learned?

The administrative machine that keeps firms running smoothly during good times and bad works only when the functional departments erase rules and boundaries and work together. There is no time or place for fiefdoms and no tolerance for dickering over territory and politics.

Last century, there were lots of reasons that marketing and recruiting were considered an Odd Couple, if not completely at odds. Money was one reason – the recruiting director often didn’t make as much money as the brand new marketing director. Influence was another factor. In a forward-thinking firm, the marketing director attended management and/or executive committee meetings – the recruiting director did not.

Today, with departments being restructured to better serve a firm’s internal and external clients, departmental lines are dotted, if not blurred. Strategic vision has borne strategic initiatives, such as positioning and branding programs, client relationship management training for all lawyers and staff, and identifying ways to get closer to and get more of the client.

A firm’s go-to-market messages are the same, whether the audience is to a 2L at the University of Chicago School of Law or a lawyer inside a Fortune 500 corporation. The 23-year old law student casts a different spin on it than a 45 year old general counsel, but the messages are the same.

The marketers and recruiters know this and, along with their technology and accounting staff, are finding ways to create a more viable and success-driven law firm infrastructure.

Working together is better than working alone.

The articles that follow contain an analysis of recruiting trends, as well as illustrate in case studies law firm innovation that has been recognized. In every case, the firms took chances and were rewarded for their bravery. In every case, law students watched these firms with anticipation and wondered, “What will happen next? What will my life be like here?”

We hope that this white paper inspires readers to identify new ways of viewing both the marketing and recruiting departments in your firm. We also hope that you escape any structure that’s keeping you bound and you experience the freedom that only team-thinking can provide.

This White Paper is available to LMA members free of charge at Nonmembers may purchase the LMA White Paper for $9.95. Visit

Jeffrey Morgan is the Group Associate Publisher for American Lawyer Media. He is a former member of the Board of Directors for The Legal Marketing Association and has been working in legal marketing for 15 years. He may be reached at 888.733.6699 or

Deborah McMurray is a strategic marketing consultant to the legal industry. She can be reached at 214.351.9690 or


Have an article to recommend?

We invite clients and friends to contribute to the
CP Press Room by sharing their favorite articles,
blogs or books. To contribute to the CP Press Room,
contact Blake Davis or send an email to