When a law firm lands a big client, the lawyers assigned to the case focus their energy on researching strategies to defend their client. However, if the case is high-profile or controversial, it may draw the attention of the media. And knowing whether you should speak with reporters or keep your mouth shut can be stressful.

Having a legal PR team in place to back you up before a crisis occurs and you need help is a proactive strategy that can get results that make a difference.

Here’s why:

Lawyers are not public relations experts and may feel uncomfortable talking to the press about the particulars of their case. If they say too much, they may tip their hand. If they say too little, their case may be misunderstood. Either way, their client could be skewered by the media, no matter what the angle. As a result, some lawyers may simply opt to avoid the media, for fear of damaging their position in the court of legal opinion.

It can be a tricky balancing act. The good news is that lawyers don’t have to go it alone.

Legal PR experts who understand the complexities of the law and work in crisis communications can help get the right message out at the right time. A seasoned team of legal PR professionals that works regularly with law firms understands the importance of collaboration, trust and confidentiality. These specialized PR professionals work in lockstep with lawyers and know when to reach out for publicity and when to step back.

In the world of crisis communications, having a crisis response plan in place before you need one is the best way to prepare for the unexpected. Trying to cobble together a plan of action during an emergency is never a good idea.

The same is true for legal public relations. Establishing a relationship with a legal PR firm during good times will help ensure you have a solid working relationship with the agency’s legal PR professionals during a crisis.

Here are 4 ways a legal PR firm can help:

  1. Legal PR experts who specialize in crisis response must be available at a moment’s notice. 
    Speed can be the driving force that determines success of a crisis response. Legal PR experts must be able to react quickly and work with lawyers to take control of the narrative and steer it in a direction most favorable to their client.
  2. Legal PR professionals should have established relationships with reporters to help secure news coverage through their contacts. 
    Many of the best legal PR experts are former journalists who understand reporters, know what makes a good story and have existing contacts with the media. Legal PR professionals understand that it can be just as important to keep something out of the news as it is to get something into the news. Legal PR experts are experts at strategizing ways to win in the court of public opinion while attorneys focus on winning in the legal arena.
  3. Legal PR consultants can handle media inquiries and eliminate the guesswork left by “no comment.” 
    Too many lawyers believe that by saying nothing, no harm can be done. Exactly the opposite can be true. Failing to comment puts control of the narrative into someone’s else’s hands, and inaccurate information can be shared and passed off as truth. The words “no comment” hands control over to the party that chooses to comment.
  4. Legal PR experts can make sure that a lawyer’s clients are represented fairly in news coverage. 
    While counsel is busy mapping out legal strategies to win a case, legal public relations experts spend their time determining what kind of news coverage might benefit the client. If there a relevant backstory, a legal PR professional will make sure it is told. Legal PR experts are trained in the nuance of public communications and have the resources and time to impact a client’s reputation.

Legal public relations professionals work in collaboration with lawyers to coordinate media coverage, shape the public narrative and prevail in the court of public opinion. Forward-thinking law firms enlist the help of legal PR pros before a crisis occurs, so they are prepared to act quickly when an emergency occurs.

Frequently Asked Questions:

  1. What does PR mean for attorney?

The practice of public relations for lawyers differs from marketing and advertising. Legal PR promotes and builds awareness and acceptance. The immediate goal is often based in the positioning of the firm.

2. What is a legal PR?

Legal PR, or litigation public relations, is the description for what lawsuit communications experts do when they are hired by a law firm to manage the communications process during a legal dispute.

3. Why is litigation PR important?

Litigation PR can reinforce a lawyer’s credibility, demonstrate expertise, and serve as a reminder of the types of high-stakes cases lawyers want to attract.