DENVER: Jaffe PR President and CEO Jay Jaffe died last Wednesday in Denver, due to complications from surgery. He would have turned 69 years old last Friday.
Jaffe founded the eponymous firm, formerly known as Jaffe Associates, in 1978 to serve law firms. Under Jaffe's leadership, the agency expanded from its Washington DC base to include 21 staffers across North America, and it has worked with clients including large, mid-size, and boutique law firms, legal technology vendors, and legal associations.
He helped pioneer PR and marketing for law firms following the Supreme Court's 1977 decision in Bates v. State Bar of Arizona that allowed law firms to proactively market their services for the first time.
“He was an incredible visionary and a thought-provoking force in this industry,” said Vivian Hood, Jaffe PR's EVP of client services, who worked with Jaffe for more than 15 years.
Jaffe was also passionate about technology, and he built a firm in which all staffers work remotely and communicate via computer, phone, or video conferencing, Hood said. He helped introduce new technology to many clients as well, she added.
“He foresaw and set trends. Several years ago, before lawyers even knew what social media was, we were teaching them because he knew lawyers would have to apply this area to the way they do their business,” Hood said. “He was someone who used the tools that were available to him to make our company interesting, relevant, and current.”
Jaffe was born in Chicago and served in the US Army. He began his career as a journalist at a local newspaper in Augusta, GA, and at a CBS TV affiliate. During the 1970s, he served as press secretary to Rep. Jack Flynt (D-GA) and for the Congressional Committee on Standards of Official Conduct of the US House of Representatives.
A resident of Eagle, CO, Jaffe was a fly fisherman, golfer, skier, art collector, world traveler, and outdoor enthusiast, Hood recalled.
“He loved his job and company. Lifelong learning was very important to him,” she said.
Jaffe is survived by his daughter Sara Jaffe, sister Judi Orenstein, brother-in-law Lou Orenstein, a niece, and nephew.
EVPs Melinda Wheeler and Terry Isner and Hood will run the firm in the interim.
“We each have a long history with Jaffe PR and a deep understanding of the principles that have guided us in the past, and we are committed to honoring [Jaffe's] strong leadership and legacy by continuing to provide the highest quality level of service that our clients expect.”