How Many Marketing People should a Law Firm have on Staff?
One of the most common questions asked by managing partners and legal administrators concerns the ratio of marketing professionals to attorneys.
The answer varies depending on the type of law your firm practices. What you have your marketing professional do also affects the ratio. Our experience, confirmed by several national surveys, including our own of both corporate and defense practices and contingent fee practices, has led us to the following general thoughts on the ratio.
A law firm needs a full-time marketing professional for every 35-40 lawyers. That’s the rough “rule of thumb.”
However, an insurance defense firm can get by with one professional for about every 50-55 lawyers. The reason – these firms have smaller, easily identified target audiences, primarily in-house counsel at carriers, claims supervisors and corporate risk managers. Members of the target audience also appear regularly at long-established trade group meetings of which private counsel can be active members. Further, in many states the entire target market is licensed and a list is available from the state insurance department. Firms with large self-insured practices tend to have a slightly lower ratio than those serving only carriers.
Contingent fee practices also present exceptions to the rule. These are caused by the type of promotion employed and by the firm’s case volume. In high case volume practices, often characterized by direct response advertising, paralegals should be counted as if they were lawyers. In referral-only, non-advertising contingent practices, each paralegal should be counted as one half of a lawyer.
This leaves corporate/transactional and defense, the so-called full-service firms. The BRC/ALM Research 2006 Business Development Survey showed that firms in the Am Law 200, The Global 100 and National Law Journal’s 250 averaged 13.3 marketing professionals.
The Legal Marketing Association’s 2006 survey showed firms with 200-399 lawyers averaged 7.7 marketing professionals – that’s 26 to 51 lawyers per marketing professional. Firms with 400-899 lawyers averaged 17.3 marketers, or between 23 and 52 per marketing professionals. Finally, firms with 900+ lawyers averaged 20 marketing professionals – 45 per marketer.
Of course, if your marketing professional does client satisfaction and research interviews or participates in new business presentations, you’re likely to have a lower ratio than if they are confined to special event planning, mailings and database management. 
1. By Bob Weiss