Yesterday, Mike Armstrong of the Philadelphia Inquirer, reported on his blog, “PhillyInc.,” that an e-mail message was accidentally sent by a Philadelphia attorney in a large law firm to a New York Times reporter. The e-mail contained “confidential information about settlement negotiations” between a pharmaceutical company and the U.S. Attorney’s Office. There is no need for me to name names here. You can read the post on Armstrong’s blog.
This reminds me of the crucial need for firmwide media policies that detail how to handle the media and media coverage – good, bad or indifferent!
I have been told time and time again that “our firm does not maintain a media policy.” In today’s day and age, I consider that malpractice. It is imperative that every firm maintain a media policy. Your firm’s media policy should address:
• Who may speak with the media on the firm’s behalf and when.
• The procedures that members of your firm must follow when the media calls or when reaching out to the media.
• Record-keeping procedures for media calls and interviews.
• How you handle calls about specific firm clients and/or cases.
• How you handle calls for third-party commentary on specific cases or legal issues.
• Crisis communication procedures.
• The ethical issues regarding the media including privileged information, trial publicity and anything that can be considered advertising.
Firms should also require that their IT departments or consultants remove the automatic character recognition in the “To,” “Cc,” and “Bcc” fields of their e-mail management programs, Blackberrys and other PDAs. Rest assured that there is no finger-pointing here. Everyone makes mistakes and the slip of a finger on the keyboard is common – believe me, I know. …
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