17 Sep The Case for Litigation PR: Helping the Legal World
Let’s be candid. There is a conundrum surrounding PR and legal professionals – how does one pursue honesty within practices that many people associate with spinning the truth? We have long had to deal with a certain duality of reputation.
So what happens if these two professions come together—if as a lawyer, law firm or litigator, you partner with a PR firm for a client’s litigation support to strengthen your case—and avoid crises? By our calculation: If we multiply two negatives, we get positive results.
Strategic litigation PR and communications can be effective in:
- Providing a different professional perspective
- Helping attorneys prevail in court
- Protecting, restoring or even enhancing the client’s reputation post-litigation
When engaging a PR firm as part of your litigation strategy, keep in mind that the firm must be brought inside the circle of attorney-client privilege. This ensures the free and open flow of information, and protects the PR agency and its employees from being deposed by opposing counsel.
To invoke and protect this attorney-client privilege:
- Hire the PR agency directly as a subcontractor
- Specify in the contract with the PR agency that all work and all communications throughout the engagement are being done as “litigation support”
- Ensure that the agency invoices the law firm directly, using this same wording. (Agency fees may still be passed through the law firm to the firm’s client(s), as appropriate.)
- Consider having your client talk directly with the PR firm
- Send out communication directly from the law firm and use legal spokespeople, rather distributing information from the agency
Taking these steps may invoke the Kovel agreement, named after United States v. Kovel. Originally decided as it relates to accountants under attorney-client privilege, it may be considered to include the services of a PR firm as well.
If the lawyer has directed the client, either in the specific case or generally, to tell his story in the first instance to an accountant engaged by the lawyer, who is then to interpret it so that the lawyer may better give legal advice, communications by the client reasonably related to that purpose ought fall within the privilege…What is vital to the privilege is that the communication be made in confidence for the purpose of obtaining legal advice from the lawyer.
Determining how much, or how little, to use a PR firm when engaging with the outside world on behalf of your clients must be considered on a case-by-case basis. However, keeping the relationship in confidence is one of the best ways to avoid raising concern with opposing counsel.
Consider how LTPR can help strengthen your firm’s offerings during litigation. We understand that being the invisible guiding hand behind sensitive legal communications can be an extremely successful way to use PR and support everyone’s best reputations. Learn how our service will best benefit you or your client.
As a next step, we provide Legal Lunch & Learn sessions and invite you to Free Lunch. Free Knowledge. Client Benefits. Everyone wins!!