Public Relations and Law Firms

2020-06-24 by Ronn Torossian

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.

Ronn Torossian: Insights from a Native New Yorker and CEO of 5WPR

Ronn Torossian is the founder and CEO of 5W Public Relations, one of the largest independently-owned PR firms in the United States. With over 20 years of experience crafting and executing powerful narratives, Torossian is one of America's most prolific and well-respected Public Relations professionals. Since founding 5WPR in 2003, he has led the company's growth, overseeing more than 250 professionals in the company's headquarters in midtown Manhattan. With clients spanning corporate, technology, consumer and crisis, in addition to digital marketing and public affairs capabilities, 5WPR is regularly recognized as an industry leader and has been named "PR Agency of the Year" by the American Business Awards on multiple occasions. Throughout his career, Torossian has worked with some of the world's most visible companies, brands and organizations. His strategic, resourceful approach has been recognized with numerous awards including being named the Stevie American Business Awards 2020 Entrepreneur of the Year, the American Business Awards PR Executive of the Year, twice over, an Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year semi-finalist, Metropolitan Magazine's Most Influential New Yorker, a 2020 Top Crisis Communications Professional by Business Insider, and a recipient of Crain’s New York 2021 Most Notable in Marketing & PR. Torossian is known as one of the country's foremost experts on crisis communications, and is called on to counsel blue chip companies, top business executives and entrepreneurs both in the United States and worldwide. Torossian has lectured on crisis PR at Harvard Business School, appears regularly on CNN & CNBC, is a contributing columnist for Forbes and the New York Observer, and has authored two editions of his book, "For Immediate Release: Shape Minds, Build Brands, and Deliver Results With Game-Changing Public Relations," which is an industry best-seller. A NYC native, Torossian lives in Manhattan with his children. He is a member of Young Presidents Organization (YPO), and active in numerous charities