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Good morning. The New York Times and Wall Street Journal are holding
on lines 3 and 4 looking for comment
about the incident
you thought would go away when you first learned about it yesterday.

In reality, traditional media and social media leap on stories like these:

Sexual misconduct…data theft…OSHA & discrimination complaints…
active shooter…accusations of fiscal mismanagement…employee fraud…
product defects…activist attacks…environmental events…
industrial accidents…management transitions…
community outrage…regulatory issues

It’s a simple fact: controversies today are tried in the Court of Public Opinion more often than in the Court of Law.

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

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

                                     Gentile vs. State Bar of Nevada

News now breaks first on social media, with traditional media sweeping Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and YouTube for leads. Whether your law firm, client or bar association is immersed in crisis or dealing with a hot-button issue, your news can easily “go viral” in moments.  Since it takes a lifetime to build a reputation and only a few seconds to destroy one, “managing the  message” is a necessary skill-set for attorneys, as well as CEOs, government leaders, executive directors

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 two 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.

For a downloadable brochure with more details about Crisis Management for Attorneys & Their Clients, click here.

  • 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 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:

Associations & Organizations

  • Akron Bar Association
  • Akron Canton Barristers
  • Alabama League of Municipalities
  • Alabama State Bar Association
  • Allegheny County (Pittsburgh) Bar Association
  • American Bar Association
  • American Public Power Association Regulatory & Legal Conference
  • American Society of Matrimonial Lawyers
  • Arizona State Bar Association
  • Association of Corporate Counsel – Mid-Ohio Chapter
  • Association of Corporate Counsel – N.E. Ohio Chapter
  • Association of Corporate Counsel – N.W. Ohio Chapter
  • Association of Legal Administrators
  • Broward County (Ft. Lauderdale) Bar Assoc
  • California Bar Leadership Conference
  • California State Bar Association
  • Case Western Reserve Univ Law School
  • Cincinnati Bar Association
  • Cleveland Metropolitan Bar Association
  • Cleveland State University Law School
  • Colorado State Bar Association
  • Columbus Bar Association
  • Council of School Attorneys
  • Cuyahoga County Bar Association
  • Cuyahoga County Employment Lawyers Association
  • Cuyahoga County Law Directors Assoc
  • Dallas Bar Association
  • Dayton Bar Association
  • Defense Research Institute (DRI)
  • Denver Bar Association
  • Federal Bar Association, Cleveland Chapter
  • Greater Cleveland General Counsel Association
  • Houston Bar Association
  • Idaho Municipal Attorneys Association
  • International Municipal Lawyers Association
  • International Union of Marine Insurance
  • Kentucky State Bar Association
  • Lake County Bar Association
  • Legal Marketing Association (Cleveland, Dallas, Denver & N.  Orleans)
  • Lorain County Bar Association
  • Louisiana State Bar Association
  • Marine & Energy Symposium of the Americas
  • Maritime Law Association of the United States
  • Maui (Hawaii) Municipal Attorneys Association
  • Mecklenburg County Bar Association (Charlotte, NC)
  • Medina County Bar Association
  • National Association of Bar Executives
  • National Conference of Bar Presidents
  • National School Board Association
  • Nevada State Bar Association
  • New York City Bar Assoc Corp Counsel Symposium
  • New York State Bar Association
  • Ohio Attorney General Conference for Public College & University Attorneys
  • Ohio Business Law Institute
  • Ohio Counsel of School Board Attorneys
  • Ohio Municipal Attorneys Association
  • Ohio Prosecuting Attorneys Association
  • Ohio State Bar Association
  • Queens County (NYC) Bar Association
  • Roundtable Collaborative, The (Managing Partners Roundtable)
  • San Diego County Bar Association
  • Society of Ohio Healthcare Attorneys
  • Stark County Bar Association
  • St. Paul, City of
  • Texas State Bar Association
  • Toledo Bar Association
  • Transportation Lawyers Association
  • U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs
  • U.S. Law Firm Group
  • University of Akron Law School
  • University of Toledo Law School
  • West Virginia State Bar Association

Firms

  • Baker & Hostetler LLP
  • Benesch, Friedlander
  • Brennan, Manna & Diamond
  • Bricker & Eckler
  • Brouse, McDowell
  • Buckingham, Doolittle & Burroughs
  • Calfee, Halter & Griswold LLP
  • Davis Graham & Stubbs LLP
  • Eastman & Smith LLC
  • Ennis Britton
  • Frantz Ward LLP
  • Giffen & Kaminski LLC
  • Goldman & Rosen
  • Hahn Loeser & Parks LLP
  • Ice Miller
  • Jones, Day, Reavis & Pogue
  • Jones, Walker
  • Kohrman, Jackson & Krantz
  • Leech Tishman
  • McDonald Hopkins
  • Meyers, Roman, Friedberg & Lewis
  • Nicola, Gudbranson & Cooper
  • Ohio Joint Insurance Fraud Conference
  • Porter Wright
  • Reminger LPA
  • Squire Patton Boggs
  • Stark & Knoll
  • Taft Stettinius
  • Thomas Miller (Americas)
  • Thompson Hine LLP
  • Ulmer & Berne LLP
  • Walter & Haverfield LLP
  • Warren Averett CPAs and Advisors
  • Weltman, Weinberg
  • Weston, Hurd
  • Wheeler Trigg O’Donnell LLP
  • Wicken Herzer Panza

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

“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