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ALM's integrated media push

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With the consolidation of law firms well documented in its editorial content, American Lawyer Media is ready to capitalize on the trend in its ad pages.

Mega-law firms must operate more like corporations than partnerships, and they are firms with substantial buying power. Midsize firms, too, are trying to run their businesses more professionally, either to ready themselves for a merger or to protect their turf.

Into this stepped Gary Mirkin, the recently hired VP-national advertising for American Lawyer Media. His priority in the newly created position is to talk to firms' managing partners, find out what products and services they need and then attract those advertisers with a comprehensive media program. Already this year, ad pages posted a 16% increase through October. Mirkin is spearheading a coordinated sales effort to court other firms that don't traditionally think of advertising with American Lawyer Media.

"ALM has a mission right now, to move forward as a comprehensive media company that can deliver media packages and communications packages on various levels-in print, in live events, in Web, in custom publishing," Mirkin said. "We can take the resources we have built, take them to clients and create these communications vehicles for them that cross all boundaries in touch points to the customer."

Mirkin, a 22-year veteran of the publishing industry, joined American Lawyer Media from Future Network USA, a division of U.K.-based Future Network, best known for gaming and enthusiast titles. While there, he served as associate publisher for the launch of Mobile PC magazine.

"I enjoyed it, but this opportunity came up," Mirkin said. "Basically, the vertical markets have always been a pretty intriguing money-making venture from the publishing standpoint."

Mirkin is responsible for sales and marketing for all 11 of American Lawyer Media's national titles, but that number may grow. He doesn't rule out the addition of new magazines and products that would serve the more complex needs of the company's audiences. "If you look at the legal field right now, it's like the consulting field of five or 10 years ago," Mirkin said. "There's a lot of consolidation, a lot of professionalizing the law firm into a business. [They're] hiring CMOs, CIOs from outside the field. They're professionalizing the managerial aspects of their business."

Mirkin admitted that in the past, wooing some advertisers was a tough sell because law firms weren't a defined market, but that is changing as firms achieve critical mass. At the same time, American Lawyer Media is changing its national sales organization to stop operating in silos and begin offering a more comprehensive media plan to advertisers. "[The sales organization within American Lawyer Media] was running a decent and good biz. Now it's compelling for us to go out as an integrated company," he said.

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