Author: Louise Eckersley

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Black Letter Communications Blog

Expert pr advice for the legal sector

According to a report published earlier this month by Black Letter Communications client, Obelisk Support, young lawyers are increasingly attracted to principles- and values-based businesses. Nearly three-quarters of the junior lawyers surveyed as part of the report –  World in Motion: why the legal profession cannot stand still – agreed or strongly agreed that they would not join an organisation whose values did not match with their own, even if they were offering more money.

“There are lies that matter and lies that don’t” said Boris Johnson’s former communications adviser Guto Harri on The Newsagents podcast last week when defending his role working for Johnson as further lockdown breaches emerge. Meanwhile Home Secretary Suella Braverman’s aides were found to have repeatedly denied that she had been caught speeding, when asked by Mirror journalists last month, claiming it was “nonsense” and suggested someone was spreading “scurrilous” rumours about her. She has since admitted speeding.

In a recent interview with The Times, Stephen Watson, the chief constable of Greater Manchester Police called for the police to get off Twitter and get on with the job they are paid to do, saying he wanted officers to avoid online “fluff and nonsense” and get on with catching criminals and answering 999 calls. Watson’s back to basics approach certainly appears to be working – he has pulled the force out of special measures in less than two years, reduced the time taken to answer 999 calls and seen a rise in the number of suspects charged.

This week criminal barristers go on indefinite strike at a time of record backlogs in the criminal courts. The story has received considerable media attention since the historic strikes were announced, from making headlines on major news channels and in the broadsheets to featuring in LBC phone ins, on Good Morning Britain and even Channel Four’s the Last Leg. Reading and watching the media coverage, it has been apparent what a mountain there is to climb for criminal barristers trying to get their message across and the considerable challenge they face to gain public sympathy.

Merger activity in the legal sector continues apace. Just last week Shakespeare Martineau announced a merger with Bristol firm GL Law and according to recent research by our client Acquira Professional Services, nearly half of law firms are considering M&A. Communications is an important aspect of any M&A strategy, given the potential for press scrutiny and the need for buy-in from partners, staff, clients and other stakeholders. Getting merger communications wrong can cause reputational damage, impact staff morale and even jeopardise the merger itself.

Black Friday, the US import that sees the retail sector slash prices on one of the biggest shopping days of the year, appears to have been adopted by a number of law firms. Last week’s annual discount day saw Manak Solicitors, based in Dartford, advertising 10% off conveyancing, fixed family work, wills or immigration services for any client who quoted ‘Black Friday 2021’ before 31 January.

Building an effective LinkedIn profile is vital for anyone working in legal services.  Not only is it an important networking tool, it also gives you an opportunity to showcase your skills and expertise, building your reputation and attracting new clients. Most of us have a decent LinkedIn profile detailing our experience and job roles but how many legal professionals are truly active on the platform? Whether it’s time pressures or not knowing what you should be posting, many are not making best use LinkedIn – if you are not active you won’t appear regularly or highly in searches when users type in the keywords you are targeting or on users’ news feed.

The AstraZeneca story is a reminder about how hard it is to come back from communications mistakes and to once again build trust in what you are saying. In PR trust is key. Whether its pharmaceuticals, finance or in our sector – legal PR – accuracy and credibility are vital to reputation. The public expect a lot from these professions and mistakes and errors can do considerable reputational damage.

As the awards season for this year draws to a close, winners and nominees might be wondering how to make best use of their new accolades, whilst others may be wondering whether they ought to have put themselves forward for their achievements. But is it worth entering awards and if so, which ones? What are the benefits from a legal PR perspective and what makes for a winning entry?

Whilst the government implores us all to get back to the office, the reality is that for the majority of law firms, working from home for much of the week is going to continue for the foreseeable future. Covid cases are rising and law firms are in no rush to bring employees back to their desks – it is estimated that only 10% of City solicitors are currently working in the office.

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