On the flip side, he reports, “Giving people who don’t have a law license the ability to share firm profits would undermine the profession’s ethical obligations of client loyalty and confidentiality, critics argue.”
The renewed debate is reminiscent of a hiring trend that’s been underway for some time in law firm circles. If we set aside the sensitive topic of ownership, law firms have opened up to functional experts for a range of duties from cybersecurity to legal pricing.
This reminds us of an interview by Lee Pachia of Mimesis Law conducted early last year: MBA’s Wanted: How BigLaw C-Suites Are Bulking Up. During the interview, he asks Amanda Brady of the recruiting firm Major, Lindsey & Africa about the trend toward picking up MBAs for senior law firm positions.
The video is embedded nearby and is this week’s Friday Share.
MBAs in the Legal C-Suite
Three points from this interview seem to stand out:
1. The need for MBAs. JDs in essence manage risk for a profession and are risk adverse “by DNA.” By contrast, MBAs view look for opportunity in risk and this different perspective has inherent utility in today’s highly competitive law firm landscape.
2. Where to find MBAs. Ms. Brady suggests MBA talent that can add value to a law firm usually rests outside the legal industry. However, she cautions against looking to those with a corporate background in favor of those MBAs working in other professional services categories. The reason for this, she says, is because corporations tend to have drastically different cultures that may not be adaptable to the culture of a law firm.
3. How much are MBAs paid. Ms. Brady notes there’s wide variation from firm-to-firm but offered a few broad benchmarks as a starting point:
- Chief Operating Officer. A COO income will be comparable to that of an average partner. She says this is because a COO is “expected to contribute at least as much” as the average partner.
- Chief Marketing Officer. A CMO (or Chief Business Development Officer) tend to be “highly paid” because they have to “influence lots of people,” to get things done. Brady says at an AmLaw 100 firm salaries can range from $500,000 and up.
The complete interview runs just 11 minutes:
Slow and Steady “Sales” Slips into the Law Firm Lexicon