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As almost any general counsel of a large, publicly traded, consumer-oriented company will tell you, legal controversies today are tried in the Court of Public Opinion — at least as much as in any Court of Law.  Every organization, especially large, publicly-traded corporations, has much to gain (or lose) by the way a legal controversy is positioned in the media. Because the value of a company’s reputation is immeasurable — and perhaps its largest uninsured asset — a corporation loses when the brand image is tarnished, even if the corporation technically wins at trial.  Furthermore, since most legal controversies are settled prior to trial, the Court of Public Opinion has arguably become the most important battleground affecting not only good will and market share, but legal bargaining power and settlement negotiations. Managing this battleground, therefore, has become integral to many corporations’ legal strategies.

                                      Georgetown Journal of Legal Ethics, Vol. 22, 2009

“An attorney’s duties do not begin inside the courtroom door.”

                                     Gentile vs. State Bar of Nevada

In these days of 24/7 instant news, where Twitter and Facebook exponentially amplify crisis situations, organizations simply cannot wait until a legal decision is rendered.  They must be prepared to vigorously defend their position in a wide variety of venues, as well as media outlets.

Hennes Communications regularly works with and for outside and general counsel for corporations, government agencies, non-profits, schools, hospitals and educational institutions, helping them communicate their way through legal and reputational challenges ranging from criminal charges and claims of medical and professional malpractice to labor and employment issues, food and product liability issues, ownership and transition disputes that threaten the very existence of an organization. We are practiced in the art of working with attorneys and, in fact, are frequently brought in by attorneys who recognize the value we bring to the table. We often work with legal teams by immediately preparing for the Court of Public Opinion so their client is not declared “guilty” before they can even be heard in the Court of Law. In fact, we can sometimes help prevent a situation from spawning a lawsuit.

We have three seminars, in particular, to offer law firms and bar associations, each eligible for CLE credit:

  • “Crisis Management for Lawyers & Their Clients,” our signature seminar, can be done as a short, 45-minute to 1-hour seminar, appropriate for breakfast or practice group lunch meetings, or as a 2.50 to 4-hour seminar. Especially in today’s world of immediate information, when reporters won’t wait long for you to return that call before posting the story online and where virtually everyone is a “journalist” armed with a camera and able to reach thousands of people with one simple Facebook message, attorneys and their clients simply cannot wait until a legal decision is rendered.  They must be prepared to vigorously defend their situation in a wide variety of venues, as well as media outlets.  Hennes Communications often works with legal teams by immediately preparing for the Court of Public Opinion so they, the organization they serve and their client are not declared “guilty” before they can even be heard in the Court of Law — and sometimes, we can help forestall a situation from even spawning a court case at all. This seminar includes:  establishing & maintaining “control of the message”; when a reporter calls – making your points and not just answering questions; reporter’s agenda vs. the attorney’s agenda; dealing with the press proactively and reactively.  We frequently present this seminar, in varying lengths, for bar associations and at law firms for the benefit of a firm’s attorneys, corporate counsel and clients. A number of firms have used these seminars as an effective marketing tool to reinforce existing business relationships and prospect for new business.
  • Our newest seminar, “Journalism, Social Media & the Courts: A New Frontier (How Digital Journalism and Social Media are Changing Court Coverage)” is a 1-hour seminar speaking to the fact that journalists have had a long love affair with reporting on lawyers, the courts and high-profile trials. That coverage looked the same for decades. Then, suddenly, just a few years ago, everything changed. Now, trials are covered live on Twitter. Lawyers’ opening and closing arguments are dissected in real time. And social media itself, with its recent dramatic impact on jurors and court rulings, is finding itself on trial. This seminar discusses how coverage of the legal system – in conventional media and on social media – has changed in the digital age, and what lawyers need to know about it.  Other topics include a brief history of high-profile media coverage of trials – and the sudden, recent change in how the coverage works; how and why social media are now crucial for journalists and why you must understand “iterative reporting”; social media’s impact on jurors and court rulings; the scarcity of research on how social media and digital journalism impact witnesses and trials overall; pros and cons of social media and digital journalism in trial coverage.

For more information, please call us at 216-321-7774 and ask to speak to managing partner Bruce Hennes.  For a short video of Bruce speaking, click here.

Hennes Communications has presented legal-oriented seminars for the following law firms, bar associations and organizations:
Akron Bar Association
Akron-Canton Bar Association
Akron-Canton Barristers
American Association of Corporate Counsel
American Bar Association Leadership Conference
American Public Power Association Regulatory & Law Conference
American Society of Matrimonial Lawyers
Association of Legal Administrators
Baker Hostetler LLP
Benesch Friedlander Coplan & Aronoff
Brennan, Manna & Diamond
Britton, Smith, Peters & Kalail
Broward County (Ft. Lauderdale) Bar Association
Buckingham, Doolittle & Burroughs LLC
Calfee, Halter & Griswold
Case Western Reserve university College of Law
Case Western Reserve University Women & The Law Conference
Cincinnati Bar Association
Cleveland Metropolitan Bar Association
Cleveland State University Law School Alumni Association
Columbus Bar Association
Cuyahoga County Employment Lawyers Association
Cuyahoga County Law Directors Association
Eastman & Smith LLC
Federal Bar Association – Northern Ohio Chapter
Frantz Ward
Giffen & Kaminski
Goldman & Rosen
Greater Cleveland General Counsel Association
Hahn Loeser & Parks LLP
Ice Miller LLP
International Municipal Lawyers Association
Jones Day Reavis & Pogue
Kohrman, Jackson & Krantz LLP
Lake County Bar Association
Lorain County Bar Association
Maritime Lawyers of the United States
Medina County Bar Association
Medina County Estate Planning Association
Meyers, Roman Friedberg & Lewis
New York State Bar Association
Nevada State Bar Association
Nicola, Gudbranson & Cooper
Northeast Ohio Law Directors Association
Ohio Prosecuting Attorneys Association
Ohio State Bar Association
Porter Wright Morris & Arthur LLP
Reminger
Roetzel & Andress
Stark County Bar Association
Squire Patton Boggs
Taft, Stettinius & Hollister LLP
Thompson Hine LLP
Toledo Bar Association
Tucker, Ellis LLP
Ulmer & Berne LLP
University of Akron Law School
University of Toledo Law School
Walter & Haverfield LLP
Weltman, Weinberg & Reis LPA
Weston, Hurd LLP

Hennes Communications has also worked with many top law firms – and their clients – in the U.S.  You can find a partial list here.

Contact us today and speak to one of our specialists.

Article:  How Lawyers & Crisis Communicators Can Work Together

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“Every lawyer who acts as litigation counsel or corporate counsel to a business or institution should be familiar with the principles and practical considerations conveyed in Bruce’s program because coverage and public reaction can be such powerful factors when a client is involved in litigation or faces some type of business crisis.”
Deborah Coleman Partner Hahn Loeser + Parks LLP Read more testimonials