Helping clients enhance their reputations



By John Allison 

An organization’s reputation is one of its most important assets.  During your representation of an organization you will have opportunities to enhance the reputation of your client.  

When you are representing an organization in a trial or other proceeding, or in a negotiation or mediation, the people with whom you are dealing will form opinions about your client based on your behavior.  If you act with honesty and integrity, and treat other people with fairness and respect, people will be inclined to have a favorable impression of your client and may even give your client the benefit of the doubt. 

Conversely, if you are rude and excessively contentious, or misstate the facts or applicable law, or play “hide the ball” in pretrial discovery, people may very well form negative opinions about your client as a result. 

 In advising an organization it is helpful to remember that you are not limited to giving advice about the legal issues involved in the client’s situation. Under the ethical rules of most states you can also give practical advice based on moral, economic, social and political factors. 

For example, if you are defending a manufacturer in a product liability case you may learn information leading you to suggest changes to the product’s design, manufacturing process or warnings that could help your client reduce the risk of generating more claims in the future while enhancing its reputation for manufacturing quality products.

Sometimes an organization will hire a lawyer to help it work through a high-profile situation that has the potential of generating negative publicity.  If you are representing such a client it is important to understand what the public expects.  Extensive jury and public opinion research indicates that people ask themselves these questions when deciding whether an organization is trustworthy, credible and reputable:   

- Are the organization’s public statements about the situation authentic, or does the organization engage in “corporate speak” that seems designed to confuse and obscure what is really going on? 

- Does the organization take responsibility for doing what it can to improve the situation, regardless of its legal liability?

- Is the organization as open and transparent about the situation as possible, consistent with privacy, privilege and tactical considerations?

If you guide the organization towards maintaining credibility and building public trust, you will help your client enhance its reputation

John Allison is a professional career coach backed by years of experience as a successful lawyer. He is the founder of The Coach for Lawyers and author of "The Art of Practicing Law: A Practical Guide for Lawyers."