In this podcast, Deborah Farone, the former CMO of two law firms Cravath, Swaine & Moore and Debevoise & Plimpton, discusses her journey of leaving her firm and writing her own book.
Podcast Show Notes
Deborah Farone is the former CMO of two prestigious law firms Cravath, Swaine & Moore and Debevoise & Plimpton. She is considered a leader in the legal marketing field. Deborah’s new book Best Practices in Law Firm Business Development and Marketing provides valuable insight and actionable advice for anyone looking to grow their business or improve their practice.
What were most interesting interviews and why?
Every interview was eye opening for me, especially because they were conducted in person or on the phone for the most part. I was impressed with the leadership of the firms more specifically. Mitch Zuklie’s innovation and unique ideas were incredible to see at work at Orrick. The team at Wilkinson Walsh was great with their usage of strategy and focusing on what really matters to them. All the individuals I spoke to were incredibly inspiring; the interviews could’ve gone on forever.
How did you start to write the book?
I was having dinner with my friends from high school, and we were all chatting about what we were doing with our lives at the moment. I had just signed my book contract with PLI, and began to speak about my forthcoming book. It was at that dinner when my friend declared that I could possibly get writers block. That night, I rushed home and attacked my book like I would any other project. In terms of organization, I had a spreadsheet with an outline of the book, notes on my content, lists of whom I had to speak with and who I thought was doing innovative work.
PLI was incredible with helping me fact check and checking quotes which was a huge help.
What was the shift from being a COO to running your own business like?
The process was such a good learning experience for me. Being on my own helped me find so many great services that are available for entrepreneurs and learn how they all operate. Essentially, whatever I didn’t know, I had to learn and learn quickly. By running your own business, you learn to strive for excellence and that the biggest tool to reaching success is thinking out of the box.
How difficult was it to build a practice and get clients?
Starting from scratch in the way that I did was definitely an experience for me. However, I was very fortunate because the American Lawyer did a piece when I left the firm, so people already were aware that I planned to leave and write a book. I’ve been very busy since the day I opened my practice, but my network and client base didn’t happen overnight. I’ve been in the legal marketing field for a long time, so I’ve been networking for a long time with people involved in the legal practice. I believe you build your opportunity, and the more you network, the more opportunity you have.
Are there rainmakers you admire and what about the way they operate do you admire?
Jeff Klein, the head of Weil’s Employment Litigation Practice Group is incredible. First and foremost, Jeff is successful because he is just an outstanding lawyer. He has a brilliant way of thinking about marketing such that he says marketing is a muscle that needs to be practiced; it needs to be worked on consistently. David Bernstein, the chair of IP practices at Debevoise & Plimpton also has a unique way of connecting with clients and understanding them as individuals. The commonality between these great rainmakers is that they all care about their clients’ well being and their success in business.
Whether you are talking about your law firm or legal practice or your own life and career, don’t wait for things to happen to you. Take the bold steps. Get coaching or get help if you need to, but think about the future and stick your neck out. A lawyer once told me that you shouldn’t want to be the long blade of grass. I disagree. You want to stick out, differentiate yourself and create your own path.