By Scott Hanson, HMA Public Relations
Law firms used to be steadfast in the belief that they would get new clients through their reputation alone. No doubt, doing good work will generate referrals, no matter what the industry.
Reinforcing that marketing strategy was the fact that law firms could not advertise until 1977, when the U.S. Supreme Court ruled on Bates v. State Bar of Arizona, striking down prohibitions against advertising by attorneys.
Practice areas such as personal injury and bankruptcy were early adopters of advertising. More traditional practice areas, however, found value in a strategic public relations effort.
Astute firms with a more corporate client base and practice areas realized that PR was a much more subtle approach to developing new clients.
Today, law firms utilize public relations for many of their external communications, including media relations, community relations and thought-leadership, all to position the firm, practice areas and individual attorneys as leaders in their field.
They have taken their own advice to heart: “You wouldn’t want a PR professional doing your legal work – why would you want an attorney doing your PR work?”
With that philosophy in hand, law firms typically are good clients for PR agencies. As noted in this post by our Public Relations Global Network (PRGN) partner in Philadelphia, Buchanan Public Relations, legal knowledge and expertise from a well-spoken attorney are of extreme value to the media.
Like Buchanan, our Boston affiliate, The Castle Group, has a long history of providing strategic public relations counseling to law firms and other professional service firms. HMA PR, our PR partner in Arizona, also has years of experience in providing successful, award-winning, creative, strategic communications services to law firms in their respective geographic markets and beyond.
Balancing the court of law with the court of public opinion is, well, a balancing act. Getting an experienced PR firm involved that can help guide the process is an important and smart move.
How to Get the Best Out of Your Public Relations Firm, Attorneys At Work
How Law Firms Can Use Litigation PR, Law.com