Law firm PR can be tough. Firms watch over their images like doting mothers and can be terribly demanding.
For example, some smaller firms insist they are international when really one of the partners just has an aunt in Majorca. In other cases firms, unavoidably, must represent unsavoury clients.
But no PR, so far at least, has ever been stuck at a firm with a reputation as a glorified brothel. That was the challenge facing one law firm PR at his previous job, working for a well-known hotel chain, the affordability and convenient roadside locations of which made it a honey pot for swingers.
Still, he already had a wealth of information to hand when, at his new job, his bosses said they were looking for more partners.
Car keys at the ready.
Tulkinghorn is delighted to see that the personal touch is making a comeback in the law.
Following an enforced revamp of its property team after the cathartic departure of former impresario Jon Vivian, the remainder of the SJ Berwin group is keen to show how much it still loves its clients.
To wit, briefing letters highlighting all the lovely deals it’s been on now come replete with a lapel badge bearing the simple yet touching message: ’SJB?RE’.
It’s enough to bring a tear to the most cynical of eyes; although why the firm feels the need to show its passion for religious education is puzzling.
The new ‘We buy any’ czar
Yorkshire-based personal injury firm Neil Hudgell Law has pledged to lend a hand to its struggling high street competitors by offering to take business off their hands to help boost its own growth.
“We know other firms are struggling,” says name partner Neil Hudgell. “That’s why we’ve launched our ‘We buy any files’ initiative.”
The PR-fuelled promotional, Tulkinghorn suspects, has been inspired by TV’s maddening ’We buy any car’ campaign, which, apart from driving you up the wall, offers to buy your motor for the price of a packet of chewing gum.
Tulkinghorn can only commend Neil Hudgell Law for offering to help those less fortunate than itself and rejects any suggestion that the promotion might be in any way encouraging other firms to dump unwanted cases.
Pinsents’ spy jinks
Anybody watch Spooks? If the answer is yes, you may recognise a few locations if you ever go to Pinsent Masons’ new offices.
The long-running spy show, which every week sees the country come under attack from increasingly complex terrorist plots (although we’re still waiting for the one where anarchists set up a law firm so aggressive and unstable that its inevitable collapse brings the whole legal profession into disrepute and sees the streets of London ablaze with rioting associates), used one floor of the firm’s building as the set of a terrorist’s penthouse and also filmed a chase scene in Pinsents’ swanky lifts (it must be a really big lift or have been a very short scene).
Rumours that senior partner Chris Mullen has since decided it would be simpler if everyone called him ’M’ and that trainees were used as extras to film a montage of sleep deprivation victims remain top secret.
Most law firms now employ armies of well-groomed, well-paid PRs to do their evil bidding.
But there was more evidence last week – as if it were needed – that most could do with a few lessons in the dark arts.
When a Tulkinghorn spy confronted one Winston & Strawn spin king over the firm’s talks with Howrey, said spy fully expected to be met with a wall of silence, and they were – but this was not of the time-honoured ’no comment’ variety.
This was the slightly less advanced, but equally effective, trick of hanging up the phone in blind panic and putting all calls through to voicemail for seven hours. Then, presumably, assuming the foetal position and weeping into a caffè latte.
Almost a full day of brainstorming later, Winston’s PR superstars came back with the following effort: “Thanks for the enquiry and for your patience. We just cannot comment.”
Alastair Campbells they ain’t.