Monday, September 29, 2008

Law Firms Should Communicate as Humans not Robots

Posted By Amanda Walsh

Although law firms have taken great strides in recent years to include necessary communications professionals and PR to their corporate mix, a more compassionate touch is imperative when addressing the public in times of crisis or addressing negative news.

I would agree with Rich Klein and his recent post, "Big Law Firm Needs More Humanity in Statement."

He used the example of a recent statement found in The New York Law Journal, issued by Sullivan & Cromwell when a partner swindled the firm out of $500,000 for false expenses. The statement is as follows:

"Upon discovery, the matter was promptly referred to the appropriate authorities. The Firm fully cooperated with those authorities, contacted affected clients and made restitution."

Klein notes the lack of humanity and concern in this statement. By using compassionate and effective language, the firm could have used this statement as a message to show the public that actual human beings are behind the work at the firm. Klein suggests an alternative:

"We regret that this happened and take this issue very seriously. Therefore, we are taking immediate action to institute stronger auditing and security procedures to protect the integrity of our billing system."

By rephrasing the statement, the firm is shown in a different light, thus salvaging their reputation that could have been permanently ruined by one disgraceful partner. Media statements and messaging should always be careful planned with forging relationships with all audiences at top of mind.

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