The Lawyer Management: SGH Martineau

Jon Preston joined SGH Martineau in 1987 as part of the support function, later becoming marketing assistant, senior manager and then director.

Briefly describe your role

To be an effective marketing and business development director (M&BD) you need the skills of a politician, diplomat and negotiator while being an ambassador for the firm.

Key elements of the role include preparing and directing BD, communication and marketing strategies in line with the firm’s objectives. This involves responsibilities including knowledge management; developing and nurturing contacts; implementing an effective sales pipeline ­strategy; pitch process development; key account management and client care programmes; research; and relationship management. It’s also about ensuring we have the best suppliers and external consultants in place.

How has your role changed during your time at the firm?

Expectation levels have risen and there’s more pressure to deliver, both internally with partners and other fee-earners, and with clients. We have to make sure we’re up-to-speed with the latest technology.

What are the most significant external issues that have an impact on your role?

The recession means we have to protect our clients and offer them even more. We have relationship management strategies in place to ensure we add value in every way, from market insight to business advice. It’s not enough for fee-earners to be technically competent in the current ­climate – we have to offer a lot more.

What impact are the changes to the legal market having on your firm and your role?

The industry is a different marketplace. There are far more joint ­initiatives and collaborative working agreements with law firms and other third parties. There’s a trend towards bids and proposals and we have to evolve as these processes do. Clients are no longer willing to pay for ‘thinking time’. They want lawyers who can hit the ground running with the ­sector knowledge and experience.

What’s in your in-tray?

My top priority is the three-year M&BD business plans and BD sector and practice group strategies and budgets. I’m also working on an ­analytics-based measurement project for client management as well as negotiating fee-related changes.

What have been the key ways in which you have improved the efficiency of the firm?

Developing a bid strategy to ensure return on investment has been an ­integral part of my role. This means maximising opportunities that are selected strategically rather than ­progressing all leads. As part of this we’ve implemented BD pitch training and sector strategy initiatives.

Briefly describe the management structure of your organisation

The structure includes a managing partner, senior partner and an equity board.


Which board/s do you sit on?

The group board.


Who do you report to?

Managing partner Bill Barker.


How many people do you have in your core team and who are they?

There are eight members, including a marketing manager and executive, a BD manager and two executives and a customer relationship management analyst.


What problem would you most like technology to solve?

A mind-reading program would be an asset in this job. Second-guessing and predicting people is fundamental to marketing and BD.


What’s the most important lesson your role has taught you?

Although you try, it’s virtually ­impossible to keep everyone happy all of the time. It helps to keep five steps ahead though.


Turnover: £30.4m

Revenue per partner:£416,000

Revenue per lawyer: £219,000

Change management

Martineau merged with Sprecher Grier Halberstam at the end of last year, generating the biggest challenge faced by Preston’s team in the past 12 months.

“Communication’s integral to a successful merger and it’s an ongoing process to ensure the two firms integrate effectively,” Preston says. “We developed a communications strategy pre-merger.

“It was imperative that this was robust enough to deal with difficult issues while remaining flexible.”


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