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litigation communications

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Today’s legal strategies demand public relations

PR as part of the legal strategy - [Litigation Communications Part 4]

Today’s business environment demands an aggressive strategy to resolve issues legally while protecting one’s reputation publicly.  As a result, lawyers need to be more than legal counselors or advocates.  They need to be familiar enough with how perception is created within the public eye and how to use the media effectively to manage that perception.  Therefore, the potential impact any litigation will have on a client’s image, reputation, investor relations and future business must be considered in creating a legal strategy.

To protect a client’s legal interests and also to preserve the client’s reputation publicly in a high-profile case, defense counsel should consider engaging public relations counsel early in the process, so as to develop a complementary strategy and get advice on how to deal with the media and protect the client’s public relations interests.  In developing a broad defense strategy that embraces both legal and public relations concerns, lawyers need to look beyond the facts and include public relations concerns as a comprehensive defense.  Public relations counsel can assist defense counsel by managing the public relations issues while defense counsel focuses on the traditional elements of mounting a defense.  If both the legal and the public relations components are to succeed, it is essential that defense counsel and public relations counsel coordinate their efforts.

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Litigation Communications - An Introduction

First in a series --

When legal problems become PR problems it is vital to act quickly, decisively in order to establish credibility and protect your clients’ brand, reputation and business relationships. To meet the challenge demands of today’s economic and technological realities, attorneys must develop relationships with the media and PR professionals who can help them weigh the legal, PR, public policy risk and ramifications that legal questions raise.

For example, Orrick helps clients weigh their legal problems from a range of disciplines including PR and public policy.

Lawsuits today affect more than a company.  It affects share value, product reputation, brand reputation, individual reputation.  Therefore Litigation strategies must take into account the potential impact it will have on a company’s reputation.  Lawsuits no longer tried exclusively in the courtroom i.e. customers and shareholders now sit in judgment along with juries.

Litigation starts well before a case is ever filed.  New skills for next generation of lawyers. Media savvy attorneys begin with the pre-trial community and it ends long after a judge renders a verdict.

Today’s legal market demands a broad range of business solutions lawyers can provide their clients and a strategic communications plan can prove to be an extremely helpful tool your firm can provide. For example, in today’s 24/7 media culture, companies lack access and lack control to the media who cover their industry and to the people that talk about them on-line.

Elements to a legal problem:

  1. Public concerns
  2. Issues management
  3. Preemptive legislation
  4. Litigation communication
  5. Relationship management

Today’s communications plans must be objective, flexible and discrete.  Great campaigns are strategic, have a well-defined goal, are targeted and provide results that stand-out.  Each business problem should be approached with a public relations, backed by solid research to build the strategy, sprinkle it with a heavy dose of creativity and efficient use of funding

In today’s competitive market, there is a great demand for high level, experienced communications executives who demonstrate the ability to reason; analyze and solve business problems to help retain clients, develop new business and help their business stand out from their competitors.

Companies today are facing increasing challenges from regulatory and legislative authorities.  Likewise, high profile white collar defendants now draw the same intense media coverage as drunken movie stars and athletes who are accused of steroid use.  Like movie stars and athletes, business executives in trouble aren’t just calling their lawyer.  They are hiring public relations firms in hopes of salvaging their name and saving their corporate reputation.

Defending clients in the public arena differs tremendously from a court of law.  For example, the rules of evidence do not apply.  And in the public’s eye, we are presumed guilty while innocent when justice is blind.  Therefore, when the damage is done publicly the legal outcome becomes irrelevant.

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