Monday, September 14, 2009

Lawyers in Public Relations

Post Written by Amanda Walsh

There was an interesting Q&A posted on the culpwrit blog by Ron Culp, Partner and Managing Director of Ketchum. Ron serves as the head of the agency’s corporate practice in North America. His culpwrit blog serves as a public relations career guide for those looking to break into the industry. Interestingly, he shared some points that I’ve overheard Gina Rubel preach in our office over and over again.

In fact, Gina Rubel, who is the CEO of Furia Rubel Communications and the founder of The PR Lawyer blog, successfully combines being a lawyer with running a public relations agency. One of her favorite things to say is, “Public relations and marketing are no different than practicing law. You’re addressing issues, determining what you want to accomplish, targeting your audience, and sharing your message in order to effectuate a particular and measurable result. The only differences are how and where you do business.”

With the change in economy and current slow-down in the hiring of lawyers, Gina sees a lot of opportunity for communications-trained attorneys to get into the fray. She receives calls and emails regularly from people wanting to make that transition.

Gina also agrees with many of the points Culp makes in Shifting Gears from Law Career to PR. Here are some things to consider:
  • Think about what drew you to law school. Why did you pursue a legal career in the first place?
  • Consider compensation. Although a PR/marketing career can provide its own set of rewards and achievements, there is a difference in the compensation of the two fields.
  • Think about other aspects of the transition - your lifestyle, skills, goals, and the type of work you enjoy.
  • If you are looking to make the career change, prepare to start out in an entry level position. Culp warns that success in public relations is largely due to amount of experience you have.
When I asked Gina what she loves most about having combined her J.D. with her bachelor’s degree in corporate communications, she said, “I love being a lawyer and working with lawyers and I love the proactive nature of public relations and marketing. When the two are combined, I am energized, creative and strategic – much like a trial lawyer delivering closing remarks.” Gina says, “What’s most important is that you do what you love and love what you do – regardless of you’re industry. That’s what defines success.”

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