End of Year Planning for Law Firms

Nov 28, 2023

How much should my law firm budget for marketing?

As a fractional CMO for law firms, this is a common question that people law firm leaders ask us – especially at this time of the year.

By now, your law firm marketing budget for 2024 should be in progress, or even completed.

Here are some crucial pieces of the puzzle to consider:

🧩 Expense targets –

A law firm’s marketing budget is typically a percentage of the firm’s gross revenue. We’ve seen suggested targets ranging from 1-12% (for real), but after a collective 75+ years in law firm marketing (gasp), we have never seen anything close to the high end of that range. We recommend 1-3% of gross revenue. Even 1% can seem like a lot, but it depends on what’s included in that figure.

🧩 Marketing activities –

This includes events, sponsorships, advertising, directories and rankings, public relations, social media and design, and tools such as technology, research and subscriptions for the year.

🧩 Lawyers’ business development expenses –

This covers expenses for your lawyers when they travel, speak, visit with or entertain clients, as well as any of their business development training.

🧩 Marketing consultants –

If you use fractional marketing staff and consultants, your anticipated costs should also go in your marketing budget. (Some firms may also include marketing staff salaries and benefits in their budget, although it makes sense to add them to your HR budget instead.)

🧩 Marketing team expenses –

Your marketing budget could also include travel and expenses for your marketing team to visit firm offices so they can build stronger relationships with the firm’s lawyers. And we highly recommend including professional development and team building like attending conferences or other educational meetings to build up the team’s skills and morale.

BTW, we’re using “marketing budget” to refer to marketing plus business development. But you can get way more specific if you like – defining marketing expenses as those connected to building brand awareness and promoting the firm, and business development expenses as connected with cultivating or deepening a particular client or target relationship.

And if you want to get really specific, you can also parse out budgets for industry, practice and client teams.

Stay tuned next week for part two – structuring your firm’s marketing budget.

Any questions about this? Just reach out – we’re happy to talk with you to see how we can help.