A delegation of US legal eagles come to you and tell you they are
worried their profession is seen in a dim light by the media and
misunderstood by the public. They feel that the ambulance chasers within
their ranks bring the profession into disrepute and make it harder to
recruit top-quality lawyers into the mid-size firms, thus limiting the
industry's potential. How would you advise them to change, and then
represent themselves to existing and potential clients and the
Would you suggest that before trying to achieve change, they split
themselves into different groups depending on whether they are members
of a legal firm or members of corporate legal departments, where they
are located geographically, and the size or specific agenda of their
firms or departments?
Surely not, because you would recognize that to raise ethical and
professional standards in that diverse profession you need a single
standard-bearing body to which everyone in the industry can turn for
advice. You would also recognize that you are far more likely to be able
to get a clear message to clients about the industry's capabilities and
professionalism if one body coordinates those messages.
Drawing up standards for the profession; researching its perception in
the marketplace; attracting the right type of talent through outreach to
students; sharing best practice; promoting the profession; lobbying over
legal and governmental issues that affect the profession, all are best
achieved through one body that can coordinate and eliminate conflicts in
both action and message. And most PR pros would surely emphasize this
point as fundamental to the legal profession's strategy.
For this reason it would be a big blow to the development and perception
of the PR industry if it were to create yet another body at this time
(see Analysis, p. 9). If small firms are not getting what they need from
the - still relatively young - Council of Public Relations Firms, then
they need to lobby the Council and ensure that they are catered to. In
turn, the Council needs to take the opportunity of a new president, new
executive, and new board to take a serious look at the small firms'
But the industry will not benefit from a bunch of small firms breaking
away and forming yet another organization. There are already quite
enough different associations pursuing enough different agendas. The
industry has to decide what is more important: pursuing individual
interests and flattering individual egos, or raising the professional
bar and ending the use of PR as a negative term.