New Study: Corporate Lawyers Can No Longer Separate Legal Strategy from PR Activities

Here’s Part 1 of a new study on corporate counsel and litigation public relations, courtesy of Michele DeStefano Beardslee, Associate Professor of Law at the University of Miami School of Law.

Her project “investigates the emerging trend of general counsels acting as legal PR managers for legal issues facing large publicly traded corporations and the potential impact that the eroding distinction between legal advice and PR management could have on the legal profession.”

In the opening, Professor Beardslee writes:

“Today legal controversies are tried in the “court” of public opinion as much as in any court of law. Corporate lawyers’ traditional tendency, however, has been to attempt to compartmentalize legal activities from public relations activities. Accordingly, they have viewed media considerations as separate from those involved in providing legal advice, and corporate lawyers’ typical media strategy often has consisted of no more than “no comment.” Given today’s saturated media culture, this is no longer a viable strategy. Indeed, there are indications that some corporate lawyers are adapting to the new media environment and attempting to help their clients manage the public relations impact of legal
controversies. ”

I could not agree more with Professor Beardslee’s summary and hope this study stimulates wider discussion among corporate attorneys, outside law firms and those in marketing and public relations who advise corporate clients and the law firms.

The full study will appear in the Georgetown Journal of Legal Ethics.

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