In this post, I summarized an article by an author who advised professional service marketers to focus their marketing efforts internally (and not to clients “externally”) to a law firm’s partners.

My recent posts have featured comments from top tier professional service firm CMOs (none of which are law firms). One argued that PSF clients rely on institutional brands, especially in global buying situations. Another CMO advised “firms to be cautious about not allowing partners to dominate relationships.”

A third PSF CMO argued that PSF brand investments must extend beyond an internal-only focus.

A fourth comment came from a public professional firm CMO, who wrote: “the mindset of the private partnership . . . is outmoded and needs to be modernized . . .”

A final comment comes from a global firm CMO, who finds a major flaw in the author’s reasoning: “to say a law firm is not a consumer brand is probably true.

[But] the conclusion that therefore it must not be a brand is not logical.  If an animal is not a circus animal, it can still be another type of animal!”

“The name of a growing, important law firm can certainly be embodied in the name of a famous partner. But it should stand for something more than that partner, over time Allen & Overy and Linklaters, or Skadden Arps come to stand also for a place where a specialty lives, where a young and aspiring lawyer can learn something, and an expensive but safe bet for a client who really needs assurance that he’s got top people working on a nasty problem. Nobody gets fired for choosing one of those… to borrow an old IBM credo.

Attracting talent is the lifeblood of such firms, without a big name this is very difficult. The big name must be built more by integrated PR and B2B marketing than by ads and TV.

So the major flaw in the [author’s] reasoning is right in the first subheader: to say a law firm is not a consumer brand is probably true, the conclusion that therefore it must not be a brand is not logical.  If an animal is not a circus animal, it can still be another type of animal!

And the idea that clients do not come for the name chiseled on the wall strikes me as nonsense. . . . they do. And in droves. Until it gets known that an old name “has lost it” . . .

So the next flawed logic is the idea that “ïf the partners walk, the business walks” and that therefore the brand is not important. Well. If Skadden, Arps, Meagher or Flom [had] walked, there would have been damage. They embody the brand. If a lesser person walks, not a lot. Which is why Skadden became the symbol for the brand. The author defeats his own argument here also.”