Mark Valentine has been the business development director of Mayer Brown for nearly two years. He was previously head of marketing, clients and sales at BDO and spent eight years as a business development consultant at PricewaterhouseCoopers.
What are the key elements of your role?
To build and, more importantly, sustain a BD and marketing framework and team that is commercial, seeks to innovate and helps Mayer Brown win in its markets.
If you weren’t doing this, what else would you like to be doing?
Running a jazz club in some small atmospheric basement bar. Jazz ensembles are not unlike law firms in that each player excels in their own right and could succeed playing solo, but they know that by pulling in other experts to accompany them the end-product is richer and more fulfilling for the audience.
What impact are the structural changes to the UK legal market having on your firm and your role?
I’m motivated by change, so this is a great time to be part of the legal sector. I’m having to be more focused with the resources I have and find new ways to deliver what the team produces.
Clients, rather than market agitators, are driving much of the change in the sector at the moment and I believe we need to be more agile in understanding the legal services supply chain of any given client or contact.
Our traditional buyers are no longer the only people we need to have relationships with. The sector, collectively, needs others to see the value we bring relative to the fees we charge so that this race to the bottom on pricing does not irreversibly affect the quality of legal services in the UK.
What’s your favourite part of day?
It varies. I’m an early bird so that first coffee in the morning is always stimulating. I do, however, work with some great people here in London and across our global network, so I can point to any number of interactions during a day that keep me motivated.
Perhaps the most challenging part of the day is when I arrive home and am asked to help with my daughter’s maths homework – what is “chunking”?
What have been the key ways in which you have improved the efficiency of the firm?
I’ve created a shared service function in the BD and marketing team. Knowledge-sharing, content management and marketing/pitch document production is now more streamlined and consistent. There are others in the firm, however, who are doing a much better job at extracting larger efficiencies. As I said earlier, the business of law is exciting at the moment.
How important is branding in the legal profession?
Very, both at a corporate and an individual level. While having a point of differentiation as a firm and a clearly defined set of values is important, many buyers will still look to individuals when choosing to buy. There’s no excuse these days for not building your personal brand – the tools exist to make that easy.
The directories system needs an overhaul as I’m not convinced it achieves what it was originally set up to do. There is, however, still no substitute for face time with clients.
Who would you most like to get stuck in a lift with?
No one – I’d enjoy the moment of peace and quiet.
What’s the most important lesson your role has taught you?
Something I knew anyway but that has been reinforced is never stop building and managing your network, no matter who you are or what you do.
Support staff: 1893
Global revenue: $1.09bn (£719m)
Sum of its parts
Since joining Mayer Brown in November 2011 Valentine’s focus has been to reshape the business development and marketing team. The aim is that, he says, is that “the value they bring collectively is greater than the sum of the parts.”
CRM: LexisNexis InterAction
PMS: Aderant Expert
DMS: HP Autonomy iManage