When spinach causes food poisoning, who is a company going to call? It will call on its legal team and public relations professionals that specialize in litigation and crisis communications. These careers in communications make excellent alternative careers for lawyers, says Nick Gaffney, a former lawyer and partner at a public relations firm in San Francisco.
In this video, Nick explains how he helps companies protect their reputations. He walks us through each step of the public relations process, analyzes day-to-day activities, the skill sets required for PR work and how to break in and find public relations jobs that fit your law background. Looking for the right career for you? Sign up for our newsletter and get a FREE self-assessment tool to help you get started. Click here to get it now.
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Luber: Hey everyone. Today on JD Careers Out there, we’re looking at an alternative legal career. We’re going to explore the special niche within public relations jobs that’s known as litigation and crisis communications. This is interesting stuff so stick around!
Alright, as you may already know, at JDCOT we explore career paths both in law practice and other law graduate jobs to help you find a career that fits you and help you succeed using your law degree.
I’m your host Marc Luber, the founder of JDCOT. I’ve always used my law degree to work in alternative careers for lawyers – first in the music industry and then as a legal recruiter. I’ve been helping lawyers with their careers since 2003 and I’m excited for the opportunity to help you.
Today’s guest is Nick Gaffney, a former lawyer and journalist, who today is a partner and the director of the San Francisco office of Infinite Public Relations, a professional services and litigation and crisis communications PR firm. You’ll like this – Infinite was voted for 2013 the best PR firm by the National Law Journal and The Recorder. Cool stuff! Let’s meet Nick. Nick, welcome to the show!
Nick: Oh, thank you very much, Marc. I’m happy to be here.
Luber: Yeah, I’m glad you’re here, Nick. So I’m excited to learn all about litigation and crisis communications. I know our audience is too, so I’m going to be asking you all about a typical day, who fits this path best, how to break in and how to succeed. But let’s start with this, Nick – first tell us, what does it mean when I tell the audience that you do litigation and crisis communications?
Nick: Well Marc, thanks for asking. It’s a really great field and it’s a sub-specialty of public relations jobs, and essentially, litigation public relations and crisis communications are the management of communications during some type of an event; often unforeseen event where the reputation of an organization is called into question.
This can be triggered by a government investigation, by a lawsuit, by some type of public statement which brings into question an organization’s financial, ethical reputation.
So, for example, if an organization is a consumer products organization and something happens with one of their products and someone is made sick, then that might trigger some lawsuits. So they’re pretty closely linked.
And so what happens is, when an event like this takes place, there are professionals who specialize in this – and what they specialize in is managing the communications.
And probably first and foremost, people need to consider that we’re past the time where organizations can choose to be silent on issues – because once organizations are silent on issues, there’s been such a democratization of the media that the opposing party, the other party in either litigation or on the other side of the crisis, has a lot of tools to be able to get their messages out.
So if you imagine an event that takes place where a corporation or some type of major institution is alleged to have behaved in a way that was either negligent or worse than that, some kind of criminal activity, their silence allows the other side to fill the media, to fill any type of reporting with their messages.
And so, basically, this is a development that has taken place in our society where “no comment” is no longer sufficient. So in lieu of “no comment,” organizations have hired both internal professionals and external organizations like our firm to come and help them prepare for either a crisis or some type of litigation.
So that’s what crisis communications and litigation communications is all about, and the great thing about it for your audience is, that these scenarios fit perfectly into the skill set of a lawyer just out of law school or someone who has practiced for a while because, like I said, oftentimes there are legal consequences to these events and in understanding a legal process is something that’s extremely valuable in this context.
Luber: Excellent. That’s great to hear. So everyone’s going to be excited to hear more about these law graduate jobs.
So we’ll continue this discussion in the Full Interview. You’ll all hear lots more from Nick on what some different public relations jobs are really like as well as more detail on who makes the right fit for crisis communications, what skill sets and personality types fit, how your law degree helps, and all kinds of advice on how to break in.
You’ll want to join the JDCOT membership for access to the full, in-depth career interviews & transcripts that will help you find and land a career that fits you. Check out what people have to say about JDCOT by clicking here.
Thanks again for watching everybody. I’m Marc Luber and I’ll see ya soon.
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