Law firms that position their attorneys as legal thought leaders and educators in key 2008 news stories will leverage their expertise and increase name recognition via a proven public relations strategy. According to Margaret Grisdela, President of the legal marketing firm Legal Expert Connections (http://www.legalexpertconnections.com/) and author of the new legal marketing book Courting Your Clients, attorneys in hot practice areas should take advantage of current media news coverage and emerging trends to capture a leadership position and competitive advantage in their areas of expertise.
"This approach is really Public Relations 101: offering high level legal insight and expertise to a variety of media outlets to garner the third party credibility and broad-based exposure in print, radio, television and on the web that PR offers," affirms Ms. Grisdela. "Journalists and radio and TV producers are always seeking experts on timely news topics. The following legal practice areas are poised to generate a high level of interest from the media in 2008, meaning that attorneys and their marketing advisors should strategize now to ensure that their name is top of mind with the media."
1. Real estate. As home sales continue to decline, attorneys with a real estate practice serving consumers or developers will find many opportunities to educate the market in areas of foreclosure, bankruptcy, mortgage fraud, and short sales.
2. Government. The 2008 presidential election will dominate the news, giving attorneys with an angle on leading voter concerns like the Iraq war, civil rights, the U.S. economy and education a big potential stage.
3. Intellectual Property. The U.S. Congress is evaluating major patent legislation, while Europe is actively implementing sweeping "EPC 2000" patent changes in 2008. IP attorneys have an unprecedented opportunity to explain digital rights, licensing, infringement and the need for trade secret protection.
4. International. In 2007, the Securities and Exchange Commission paved the way for likely adoption of International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS), which could ultimately replace U.S. Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP). As business goes global, corporate and securities attorneys can educate audiences on business legalities in Brazil, Russia, India, China, and other rapidly growing countries.
5. Privacy. With digital consumer data growing exponentially, attorneys can address matters involving privacy policies, identify theft, data security, e-discovery, background checks, medical record protection, credit reports and more.
6. Immigration. Congress could not reach agreement on immigration reform in 2007 despite heated public debate, leaving this is a hot button for 2008 politics.
7. Trusts & Estates. 2008 is the first year Baby Boomers start turning 62 and become eligible for Social Security retirement benefits. Attorneys with a concentration in wills, trusts, and estates should position themselves as a credible legal partner for aging Boomers in need of retirement planning.
8. Environment. Leading world scientists documented an "unequivocal" warming in the global climate in 2007. Law firms can address a range of green topics, including alternative energy, recycling, energy efficiency, toxic tort litigation and more.
9. Employment. Wage and hour litigation brought under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) tripled in the past few years, according to court records. Employment law attorneys should be prepared to speak on a full range of employment law matters including overtime, discrimination, family leave, and other personnel policies.
10. Health Care. Universal coverage will be a big focus of media attention during the 2008 elections, giving health care attorneys a natural platform to address insurance haves and have-nots, HIPAA, health care fraud, billing practices, medical reimbursements and more.
In addition to direct media outreach on these topics, other public relations and communications opportunities for attorneys include speeches, articles and editorials, blogs, letters to the editor, newspaper columns, web site postings, white papers, client alerts, and educational seminars.