Law Firm Crises & Litigation Support
Call now: (416) 831-9154
When your very reputation is at stake, call The Legal A Team. How you respond during a law firm crisis has even more impact—positive or negative—on your reputation than how you handle business during smooth sailing. We have guided law firms through rough waters and into safe harbour.
The Legal A Team’s Jana Schilder and Brian Kilgore have 70+ years of combined experience dealing with law firm crisis management in partnerships (both law firms and accounting firms) as well as corporations, and non-profits.
Crises We Have Handled
We have handled crises where our client was called to testify before a Parliamentry Committee about the questionable conduct of a Cabinet Minister; the entire Parliamentary hearing was broadcast live on TV. This was the longest crisis we have ever seen, lasting almost six months.
We were on the crisis team when a Mississauga law firm found itself with 6-figures of unpaid invoices from a large client, and related to those invoices, there was a named law firm partner who had embezzled thousands, leaving his partners in the lurch.
We were on the crisis team when a group home for single, troubled mothers and their children was an unwelcome addition to a very religious Toronto neighbourhood in 2002. And lawyers, who were Board members on a non-profit, were in the news for feeding mouldy bread to single moms and their children.
We were on the crisis team during the terrorist attacks 9/11 at major accounting firm KPMG, ensuring Canadian employees ramained safe.
During the 1998 Quebec Ice Storm, we assisted thousands of Canadian National Railway employees and customers find shelter and safety as the lights went out. Did you know that a locomotive carrying 2,500 gallons of diesel can be re-wired by a special electrician to generate electricity for a 10-storey building, effectively acting as an emergency generator? You can drive a locomotive down main street with no rail tracks? Later, the street must be re-paved.
We were on the crisis team when three employees were killed in a head-on train collision at Canadian National Railway that also caused $100 million in damage to clients' goods. This was the train crash at Edson, Alberta, on August 12, 1996.
Crisis Public Relations for Law Firms
In a law firm crisis, timing, the right strategy, and quick flawless execution matter. The role of public relations is four-fold:
1) To establish,
2) To promote,
3) To protect and sometimes
4) To salvage the reputation of a law firm.
The best crisis planning is preventive; in other words, keeping law firms out of the media for all the wrong reasons. You want positive media relations, not negative media relations.
Frequently, the role of public relations counsel is to play "devil's advocate" and prevent crises from happening in the first place by sound management, and examining all angles of business issues as they arise. "If you do this operationally, the likely PR outcome will be this...."
Sometimes, a crisis starts off as “a situation” that festers for a while, and then blows up into a law firm crisis. The important thing about law firm crises is: they don't go away and you don't get out of the headlines without taking action. With a law firm crisis, timing matters. Calling us sooner is best.
Law Firm Crisis Management Services
Coordinate with Emergency Services, the Police, or the Coroner, as appropriate.
Help you to craft your story, along with law firm management.
Gather facts, to keep your story accurate (in a crisis, misinformation and disinformation are a concern).
Competitive analysis; how will your competitors react to your problems?
Draft key messages during a crisis; anticipate reactions to key messages.
Develop a strategic plan for:
Develop a media plan; anticipate most likely questions of reporters.
Advise on selection of law firm spokespeople.
Provide streamlined media training.
Click here for our complete Media Relations Training.
Litigation Support for Court, Trial
For high-profile trials and court dates, reporters are likely to scrum you on the court house steps, pelting you with questions. All reporters want to be first to break the story; many want exclusive content that no other news outlet has. Savvy lawyers arrive at scrums ready to respond to reporters. Be ready with litigation support.
At The Legal A Team, we help you come up with memorable sound bites that end up in print, on the web, and are played over and over during the news cycle. We help you craft sound bites that have great content and that you deliver with style and flair—"sound bites with substance."
An important part of litigation support, well crafted sound bites are memorable; they can not only advance your client's case, they can significantly enhance your reputation as wise, measured, and thoughful counsel.
Here are some sound bites we provided to insolvency litigator, the late John Varley, during the Stelco restructuring: here and here.
The Gamut of Law Firm Crises
Law firm mergers, when the cultures clash
Law firm mergers, when equity is diluted
Partnership wind-ups, dissolutions or bankruptcies
Defections of rainmaker partners who set up law firms that compete with yours
Allegations of sexual misconduct or other harassment
Allegations of fraud, embezzlement, bribery or theft
Actions of rogue or disgruntled employees
Sudden death of partners in tragic circumstances
Cybercrime and hacking incidents where trust funds are missing
Cybercrime and hacking incidents where client information or client confidentialy have been compromised