In the distant past, public relations and lawyers couldn’t exist in the same sentence. However, during the ‘80s, rules and regulations were relaxed and, for the first time, lawyers could advertise themselves and their services. The further deregulation in the later decades allowed more careers to open up in the space that was being created. This deregulation also paved the way for important changes in both the PR and the legal industry, and soon enough, they started to find ways to merge together.
Less than 50 years ago, lawyers that worked in public relations were incredibly rare. In fact, only a small number of law firms even had anything to do with public relations. Just a handful of law firms actually had in-house PR managers or other types of PR professionals. But today, a person can walk into any of the top law companies around the country, and can easily find an entire internal PR department.
However, this change didn’t happen overnight. It was gradual. It all first started when the laws on advertising from the legal sector were relaxed in the latter half of the ‘80s, which meant that for the very first time, law firms and companies could finally promote themselves in the mainstream. This led to more and more law firms thinking about public relations.
How Did PR and Law Firms Come Together?
These days, legal PR is a section of corporate and consumer PR, in a way that relates to all areas of a business and professional life. Additionally, considering all of the different types of issues that the legal PR section has to deal with on a daily basis, it has quickly developed into a separate niche of public relations. However, it became a section of PR that has a big reach into different publications and outlets.
Furthermore, with the additional deregulations throughout the years, the door for law firms to evolve only opened up more. With the corporate and PR sectors changing rapidly, law firms have become a lot more brand conscious as a way to reach audiences that are important to them.
In the present day, the younger generations find it very important that they only support organizations that match their own values. This is the reason why legal PR professionals are now investing a lot more of their time in thought leadership – which is the best way to certify their lawyers as experts in their respective fields.
Now, legal PR doesn’t simply mean translating the nuances of a legal case in a short press release. It also means keeping up with current affairs and being ready to translate any issue into an opportunity for legal commentary by people working in legal PR who want to promote their expertise, as well as reporters that want to add clarity to news stories for their audiences.
Additionally, corporations and brands both big and small now have to communicate with their legal PR departments during any sort of PR crisis, before forming an effective response, which has only grown the importance and connection between law and PR.
Ronn Torossian is CEO of 5WPR, a leadinglitigation PR agency.
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