6 Themes when hiring APAC BD & M Directors


Having recently completed a succession of Senior BD & Marketing Director searches in the APAC region, for international law firms, there are 6 reoccurring themes presenting themselves that are becoming key to the hiring decision making process, and the last one might surprise you.

The context to this is that following a period of relative inactivity for senior level BD & Marketing appointments during the Covid-19 pandemic, the past 12 months has seen a steep increase in the number of senior roles being recruited. Many are replacement hires – backfilling vacancies caused by people leaving Asia (directly attributed to the unsettling pandemic years), but an increasing number are newly created jobs – designed to respond to a dynamic and fast changing market influenced by geopolitical, economic & trade issues, rapid technological changes, and the expectations from clients for their law firms to advise on all these things, and more.

Each law firm is different, and whilst many job descriptions are similar there are crucial nuances that determine the weighting of the typical Director level responsibilities. For example, a firm that aspires to win more business, in a particular practice or sector, will seek experience in direct sales, client account management and client/sector development strategies. Another firm wanting to gain clarity and focus to the M&BD function will favor candidates with strong team management and process re-engineering experience.

The 6 reoccurring themes I see in every search, is a need for Director level candidates to possess some or all the following:

1) Deep understanding of the region (particularly Southeast Asia and China)
2) Leading a diverse team across multiple locations and cultures
3) Understanding the legal sector (or complex professional services)
4) Sector strategy experience (especially in Energy/Infrastructure/Banking & Finance)
5) Client facing & sales experience.
6) Energy, dynamism, proactiveness, confidence and ability to lead partners.

Point 6 is the ‘green tick’ that is weighted more than any other.

I attribute this to the fact that as law firms respond to this dynamic and turbulent market, coupled with the transformation of how law firm businesses are structured, there is a need for a clear, confident and innovative leadership of the BD & Marketing function.

Partners want and expect their senior BD & Marketing professionals to be well researched, have ideas and confidently drive strategy that secures and wins business.

As one Global Managing Partner said to me in a recent briefing:

“We are paying partner level salaries; we expect partner level contribution”.

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