Senior Business Development Coordinator (Maclin) and Business Development and Marketing Communications Manager (McGuire), Gray Plant Mooty
For legal marketing professionals Tess Maclin and Stacey McGuire, mid-2011 turned out to be a turning point in their already successful, yet demanding careers.
Within just a three-month period, their two marketing leaders and mentors in Gray Plant Mooty’s business development and marketing department left the firm. These senior executives had shown the two young professionals the ropes, helping them navigate through the firm’s politics and traditions to carve out successful niches at the firm.
With the department short its two senior positions, Maclin and McGuire eagerly stepped up to the plate and took on additional responsibilities while continuing their already hectic workloads. They volunteered to work as liaisons with the firm’s additional practice groups to enhance their professional development. They kept their peer staff on track with their projects and helped develop the firm’s annual report.
They took over the responsibility of a large, high-profile project, which entailed development of the firm’s first practice group micro-site and related videos, guiding it to a successful launch. They put in extra hours whenever it was needed.
The two say they saw the situation as an opportunity rather than an obstacle.
“As much as we were sad to see the two go, it was a learning opportunity and we both took on additional responsibilities that we enjoyed,” Maclin says. “We really got to grow professionally and show that we could do it.”
They also say that essentially they were just doing their jobs.
“To us, we were just doing what needed to be done to help our other team members and the firm move on,” McGuire says. “The two who left were good friends, great role models and gave us direction and guidance. Without them here anymore, we had to make decisions on our own, and it forced us to do things that we weren’t real comfortable with and helped us really grow professionally. “
Maclin and McGuire say several big projects that the two senior execs had been working on landed in their laps, and they knew that it was time to step up.
“It was hard,” McGuire says. “It was a lot of work. It was a lot of time, but it was worth it.”
It was seven months before a new chief business development officer was hired, and the two helped in the recruiting process through networking with their contacts in the Legal Marketing Association.
Gray Plant brass is pleased to have retained the two skilled marketing professionals. They say finding talent for legal marketing positions is difficult and retaining them is even more difficult. In fact, they say the industry average for legal marketers is just 18 months.
While other legal administrative departments oftentimes play a more behind-the-scenes role, legal marketers are in the center of all of the activity, going toe to toe with the attorneys.
“Attorneys come to us and we play an advisory role,” McGuire says. “We’re sort of their right hand in their business development goals. … It’s all comes down to building relationships and helping attorneys build relationships.”