Mike Mellor - Leaders with Ambition

Leaders with Ambition - Mike Mellor

Back to Blogs

Paying it forward is an investment – one made happily by Mike Mellor, who followed his passion as a Chief Marketing & Business Development Officer for the New York-based law firm, Pryor Cashman LLP.

In this episode, Mike shares words of wisdom as well as important career and life perspectives with Host Nicky Acuna Ocana. You’ll learn how Mike came to work in legal services, what it’s like to support busy Attorneys and why it’s so important to secure their buy-in.

By constantly staying conscious of the need to bring maximum value-add with minimal interference, Mike keeps his marketing function relevant and demonstrably positive for the bottom line.

You can go ahead and call it sales, because in his opinion everything is – which is one of many reasons Mike believes networking and mentoring – along with curiosity above all else – are such important components of the marketer’s portfolio. Homework and preparation are also key!

Enjoy this lively conversation with a CMO at the top of his game when it comes to making bottom-line contributions for his firm.

​Watch Mike Mellor's episode

Listen to the podcast

Listen on Apple Podcasts
Listen on Spotify

Starting Out

  • It’s true that not many are born with the dream of becoming a legal marketing professional, and Mike is no exception. But he found a passion!

  • Broken Bones & Pivoting - Mike’s evolution away from hockey to a peripatetic university experience and lifelong love of globetrotting.

  • How a random introduction to the book, "Sociology," by Peter L. Berger, focused Mike’s attention on what he wanted to pursue academically and professionally.

  • Thinking Globally - Mike’s journey through early days studying international relations and working in banking in Boston before attending Columbia in New York, where he pursued an innovative, integrative degree in marketing and communications.

  • What Drives Mike - Intellectual curiosity is a critical component of marketing, including proactive research and follow-up.

Still Learning

  • Mike shares “failure stories” that have helped him hone his internal comms and digital strategy and learn to secure buy-in (especially from leadership)!

  • The CMO Network: the robust network of marketers – built on resources, camaraderie and support – among people working in professional services.

  • The Same But Very Different; why the profile among CMOs at various law firms differ based on nuances like culture, politics and areas of focus.

  • Think Like an Entrepreneur; how being prepared and ready to get down to business with busy attorneys enhances the whole firm ’s bottom-line success.

  • Not a Dirty Word: Understanding why in reality we are all in sales – negotiating deals of one kind or another at any age, stage or given moment in life!

  • A few questions we should always be keeping in mind:

    • What can you do to bring value?

    • How are you providing sound advice and contextualizing it?

    • Is your email communication succinct and easily actionable?

Mentoring is so important

It’s about equity and paying forward whatever support and good luck has lifted us to a position of success.

Mike talks about how we can support each other trans-generationally through knowledge-sharing around varying skill sets and expertise.

The Rush to AI

Right now Mike’s firm is taking a “wait-and-see” approach to the new chat technology until it’s been “stress tested.” For now applications are limited to narrow data analysis, competitive intelligence and SEO.

What makes the Legal Marketing Association so special?

  • The abundant good feeling and energy.

  • The lack of ego and posturing.

  • Opportunity for participation and sharing.

  • Ongoing education.

  • Confidence building.

  • Tools to help with delegation and sharpen skill sets.

Mike’s Biggest Career Challenges

  • How to effect change in an environment where your function is outside the core focus on the firm at large.

  • Finding ways to make busy Attorneys care about what marketing has to offer.

  • Making buy-in irresistible by creating value-add that’s irrefutable.

  • Changing people’s default orientations and assumptions.

  • Narrowing the Focus: How specialising can empower us to go deeper and be more effective with pitching and execution.

  • Lessons from Covid: How pandemic deepened Mike’s sensitivity to individual circumstances in life and specific needs in the context of work.

Words of Wisdom

  • 'Invest in yourself. Take the extra time to learn about things.'

  • 'Commit to getting 1% better every day.'

  • 'Read, research and look for ways to position yourself effectively.'

  • 'Think ahead. Print things out and be prepared to step into meetings.'

  • 'Anticipate ways in which things could potentially go off the rails.'

  • 'Remember that empathy and communication are superpowers!'

Key Quotes

  • “I jumped at the opportunity to move into legal. I have some family who are lawyers and there’s obviously a ton of smart people. I love to soak in that knowledge!”

  • “There are people who come back from a meeting and Google things and then there are people who don’t come back from meetings and Google things. And I think that that really separates people.”

  • “You can add a lot more value when you understand the players and the landscape.”

  • “You’ve got to get champions – people who are aligned with your thinking and trust you.”

  • “In your absence your digital footprint is you. So pay attention and make sure that that is constantly reflected in all the great work that you do.”

  • “Building those networks is critical. It might just be because the tenure of legal marketers tends to be shorter – and the fuses. You never know when you’re going to be working with someone again or you’ve worked with them in the past. It’s a pretty small world, so people tend to help each other out.”

  • “The more we can keep attorneys billing and take things off their plate, the more successful the firm is because we don’t charge hourly.”

  • “You get to a point where you come from reader to the creator and it’s rewarding to have people reach out to you and want informational interviews … I have mentors and want to pay it forward as well.”

  • “The power of mentoring is for all levels. Whether it’s with your peers or more junior people, I think there’s not enough people who really take value from it.”

  • “We’re trying to use (AI) strategically and improve its value … It’s probably more of a wait-and-see approach until it gets a second wind.”

  • “A mission-critical part of any change management is, what’s the benefit? People are busy. They’re not just going to change what has been their default.”

  • “People don’t care about the features of something. They care about the benefit. So do the extra step and let them know that they’re going to be saving time, money or a combination of both.”

  • “People enjoy when you respect their time – especially really busy folks and especially when they’re your boss.”

About Mike Mellor

Mike is the Chief Marketing and Business Development Officer at Pryor Cashman, an award-winning full-service law firm with over 215 attorneys in NYC, Miami and LA.

Entrepreneurs and business owners come to Mike with legal issues and he puts them in touch with the right attorney for their needs and industry vertical. Half attorney coach and half matchmaker. Mike is published and quoted in various media for marketing innovation and has also served as a guest lecturer on a variety of different marketing theories and ideas.

About Nicky

Nicky Acuna Ocana has led high performing recruitment teams for over 20 years. As the Regional Managing Director of Ambition UK, Europe and US, she leads a team of highly-skilled recruitment consultants who are experts in their niche specialist areas.