Stuart Smith has been a driving force for law firm digital marketing over the last decade. In August this year, after spells at Winckworth Sherwood and Charles Russell Speechlys, he took on a new challenge – to transform the digital marketing at employment boutique CM Murray.
There has never been a better time to be a digital marketer, Stuart told The Professionals.
CM Murray is a city-based employment and partnership law firm with 18 lawyers, and was recently ranked Band 1 in Chambers and Partners for ‘Partnership’ and ‘Employment: Senior Executive’. Stuart is its first digital marketer and relishes the opportunity to build and drive the digital strategy for the firm.
“From a digital marketing perspective, the firm has been active with lots of regular, quality content including podcasts, video and news updates. My role is to really amplify our activity, create a clear strategy and set best practice and training for the lawyers.”
The first challenge facing Stuart, however, was how to join a firm and make an impact when stuck at home.
“Being interviewed at home via video is certainly different,” explains Stuart. “In some ways, you are more relaxed in familiar surroundings, but you are also on edge for the very same reasons. It’s all too easy to over-compensate for not being in the room and without the non-verbal feedback you pick up naturally when face-to-face.
“I can, however, see more first-round interviews being conducted in this way, only meeting people in person during later rounds.”
The challenges continued when starting the new role, with the opportunity to meet and build a rapport with colleagues not as easy as in person.
“Video meetings are the only way to meet new colleagues, but they tend to be quite functional and focused on business matters,” says Stuart. “The chit-chat that naturally occurs in face-to-face meetings is often missing, and you have to work that much harder to be visible and make an impact – it’s not just about being available. But everyone has made me feel incredibly welcome and I felt part of the team very quickly.”
Whilst digital marketing can quite easily be done from home, Stuart was quick to return to the office when the chance arose, spending one day a week alongside a small number of colleagues, working and building the relationships needed to drive forward the firm’s marketing. The human element, he says, cannot be underestimated.
The current business environment has been a busy one for employment lawyers and CM Murray has a strong content programme for its clients, based largely on technical and advice-led updates.
“Good content is the backbone of strong digital marketing,” says Stuart, “and in that respect, CM Murray is ahead of the game. We are now looking to make that content work harder and further raise the profile of the firm and its lawyers.
“During this time, we have stepped up our online events programme, including more podcasts, greater use of video and some larger conference-styled events.
“The aim is to put structure and measurable objectives into the firm’s digital marketing across not only the platforms we use but the various initiatives the firm is driving forward in our market segments.”
Digital marketing has been a cornerstone behind much law firm activity, but many fee-earning colleagues and practice areas have remained sceptical. The COVID pandemic has put that into sharp relief.