WASHINGTON, DC: PR agencies are about to find themselves competing with law firms for crisis-management assignments - that is, if former Clinton White House counsel Lanny Davis has his way.
WASHINGTON, DC: PR agencies are about to find themselves competing
with law firms for crisis-management assignments - that is, if former
Clinton White House counsel Lanny Davis has his way.
Davis’ powerhouse DC law firm, Patton Boggs, has set up a new Legal
Crisis Management practice. It will showcase the new unit by
co-sponsoring a seminar, ’Securities Fraud, Accounting Irregularities
and Legal Crisis Management: What to do After the Crisis Hits,’ this
Thursday in McLean, VA.
Chief among Davis’ priorities is the successful integration of legal and
PR processes during litigation. ’PR people should value having a lawyer
who understands the needs of the media and can translate and argue their
issues to other lawyers involved in the case,’ he said.
Davis knows the difficulty of balancing the interests of both
professions from personal experience. During his tenure at the Clinton
White House, he found himself allied with press secretary Mike McCurry,
who also supported releasing information about the 1996 Clinton/Gore
Not surprisingly, White House attorneys schooled in the art of saying
’no comment’ disagreed with him.
Davis notes that lawyers usually clam up when confronted with a
microphone; PR people, on the other hand, push for openness. But the
lawyers usually carry the day with the CEO, even though the lack of
response often leads to a stock or sales decline.
While most companies involved in major litigation employ both a PR
agency and a law firm, Davis believes a true crisis requires the two
professions to work hand-in-hand. ’You’ve got to have a place where both
can be done at the same time,’ he explained. ’I’m not asking clients to
fire their PR firm, but to let me be the bridge and translator between
While the new practice consists primarily of lawyers, Davis notes that
most of the staffers boast some political experience and thus recognize
the value of being forthcoming.