High profile legal disputes can become politicized and the subject of intense media attention. Public statements, court filings and testimony can impact not only potential jurors and government officials, but also investors and analysts; can shape settlement issues and dramatically affect other business objectives. In many of the "bet the company" cases that our firm specializes in, success in the court of public opinion is as important as—or can contribute to—success in the court of law.
Our experience and that of our clients has been that it can be very difficult to find public relations firms that can operate effectively in the context of such complex and contentious legal disputes, without the participation and guidance of members of the trial team. Coordination is essential; in-house and outside communications firms who try to operate independently of the trial team find themselves frustrated, potentially out-of-step, and even in conflict with trial strategy and the rules set by the court.
We have a different approach. Using members of the trial team, fully embedded in the courtroom, protected by the privilege to the extent that communications are part of litigation strategy, and with long experience in dealing with both the media and communications professions, we are able to provide the critical link between the public trial and the trial in the courtroom. We make the in-house team and outside communications firms more effective. We ensure that they do nothing to undercut the trial effort. We formulate critical statements; coordinate the presentation of issues; educate the media with the special knowledge of lawyers; comment on and off the record; brief top executives and help them prepare, both for public statements and trial testimony in a way that will speak to both jurors and investors.
Judges read clips. They are increasingly sensitive to press reports; increasingly hostile to transparent efforts to "ghost write editorials," much less to provide financial support for those who write them. The strategies used by many communications firms in other areas simply cannot be translated into litigation without running serious risks. We avoid those risks. We know how to handle controversies. We pay attention both to trial and business objectives. We are uniquely skilled and experienced in doing so. We work cooperatively with existing communications advisers, who end up welcoming and depending on our participation.
Unlike lawyers who are leery of ever dealing with the press, who miss critical opportunities, who avoid cameras in situations where the story will be told with or without a client's input, we ensure that there is a coherent message that is communicated. We like to win—that is our specialty; but communications are even more critical where the result is mixed, or we win at some stages and lose at others. We know how to grab victory from the jaws of defeat, and not the other way around.
Quinn Emanuel has lawyers who have special expertise and experience in coordinating litigation and communication strategies. We are prepared to offer strategic counseling not only to deal with crises but also to prevent them. We have long and deep experience training CEOs and top executives in presenting issues to the public, dealing with government investigations, guiding public relations staffers and consultants, and aggressively pursuing communications and political efforts in a way that both supports and protects our clients’ legal and business interests. And because we are lawyers, to the extent our work is done in the context of providing legal advice, it can be done in confidence.
Susan Estrich serves as Chair of this practice area. She brings decades of experience in politics and media, as a political campaign manager, on-air commentator (Fox News, and before that, ABC, NBC, CBS, CNN etc.), and syndicated columnist (over 100 newspapers and outlets, and before that, USA Today, The Los Angeles Times, The American Lawyer, etc.), as well as being a nationally recognized legal advocate (first woman President of the Harvard Law Review, youngest woman tenured at Harvard Law School, Robert Kingsley Professor of Law and Political Science at USC, etc.). She has advised corporations, CEOs, and individual litigants involved in high profile legal and political battles. Since joining the firm in 2007, she has used this expertise not only on behalf of her own clients in the firm, but also on behalf of other firm clients facing serious public relations and political issues intertwined with our representation.