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Podcast Episode 196: Global Strategic Growth Partner

by Guy Alvarez • August 17th, 2023 • Podcast

In this episode of the Legal Marketing 2.0 Podcast, Guy is joined by Craig Budner. Craig W. Budner is the global strategic growth partner for K&L Gates, a global law firm with 48 offices and approximately 2000 lawyers on 5 continents. In this role, Craig manages the global recruiting and integration functions for the firm. He also manages the firm’s global business development, marketing, and media relations functions. Additionally, he serves on the firm’s management and advisory committees.

1. Inspiration Behind the Transition from a Practicing Lawyer to Managing Business Development 

Craig believed that the law firm environment was changing and that previous marketing phrases were no longer applicable, and that marketing needed to be more active. So he felt strongly that the firm needed to be more thoughtful about how they used the resources that they had, which motivated him. 

Peter Kalis, retired partner, former chairman and global managing partner of K&L Gates, encouraged and trusted Craig to lay the groundwork for him to take on the role of global strategic growth partner. The current leadership, James R. Segerdahl and Mike Caccese, the global managing partner and chairman also inspired Craig by giving him the room to run with his new role.  

2. The State of Business Development/Law Firms and Where it is Heading

Business development Cmos are rotated every couple of years, making it challenging to establish appropriate boundaries for the value proposition of the client development team. It is essential for firms to understand their business and industry, as well as their challenges and opportunities, before entrusting them with legal work. The business development function should not be an administrative function but rather a tool to target clients and create a client experience journey. By understanding and using available tools, firms can maximize pricing data and ensure their partners understand the importance of this function.

3. Tips for Lawyers Who Are New to Business Development

A lawyer should start by asking questions and having a genuine curiosity about their clients’ business and needs. This will help them form relationships with people without any agenda and understand what might be a good fit for them over time. This conversation will ultimately lead to the opportunity to become a foot in the door with that relationship. To be a successful lawyer, it is essential to understand the heads of businesses and executives you will be serving and to watch great business developers do it. This will help you form relationships with clients and ultimately create opportunities for growth.

Opportunities for success may be limited, but it’s important to stick with clients and expect them to say yes over time. The best business developers are substantive, thorough, and methodical in building relationships. While the percentages may be lower initially, it’s crucial to maintain a positive attitude and not be intimidated.

4. The Emerging Role of Business Development Teams at Law Firms

With nearly 2,000 lawyers and 48 offices across five continents, a single profit center model requires a strong business development team to help evangelize and connect with client-facing professionals. This team should understand client industries, collaborate with partners, and make suggestions about solutions to client challenges. A well-integrated business development team ensures that lawyers can effectively navigate client industries and make informed decisions.


Don’t be overwhelmed by business development – stack habits that put you in a position to cultivate trusted relationships at the right time.

You can find Craig Budner on Linkedin & Twitter and the Company Website.

You can find the Client Conversations Podcast on Spotify & Apple.

Check out our newest ebook, A Law Firm Guide to Digital Marketing Analytics, here



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