When You Should Call Your Lawyer and When You Should Call Your PR Firm

Who should you call – your lawyer or your PR firm?  

PR and legal teams typically have a symbiotic relationship with each other, often working together to support a client when there is a pending issue that involves both aspects, such as a corporate merger deal with investor relations impacts or a civil trial that has caught the public eye.  

At times, PR firms and law firms will even recommend each other to clients when there is a pressing need for their respective services. 

That said, at the very start of a crisis or even just a development that involves both legal and PR aspects, it can be tricky for clients to determine who they should contact for which matters and why and in what order.  

The Most Important Rule: If You’re in Legal Trouble or About to Be, Call Your Lawyer First

If you are arrested, about to be or even feel you may be about to/have crossed a legal boundary, please connect with your lawyer before talking to anybody else.  

The most important reason is that, unlike your relationship with a PR professional (normally), communication between you and your lawyer is protected and completely confidential under attorney-client privilege. This is right in line with the fact that you have a 5th Amendment right to be silent and not engage in self-incrimination. Your constitutional privileges are precious and valuable, so take advantage of them!  

If you speak to your PR professional before an attorney, your correspondence with them will not be confidential under the law, which could be damaging to your case, and your PR team may encounter their own legal liability. 

How Can You Still Talk to Your PR Team Freely If You Are in Legal Trouble? 

Fortunately, there is a way for your PR team to be involved if you face legal issues. Your designated legal team should be able to formally ‘hire’ your PR team on your behalf and incorporate their cost/retainer into your regular legal bill.  

Through this, your conversations with your PR team will fall under attorney-client privilege and your chosen teams should be able to work together to balance and harmonize the PR strategy with the legal strategy.    

When the PR team is formally hired by your lawyer, you should check with your lawyer on which types of correspondences (such as email, phone, text) fall under privilege and what conditions need to be applied (such as counsel being cc’d on each email to your PR counsel and vice versa). 

Don’t Know The Right Lawyer to Talk to? Try Your PR team!  

While you should be careful how specifically you describe your prospective legal dilemma to a PR professional who is not currently under attorney-client privilege, savvy PR firms well versed in crisis communications like The TASC Group often work hand-in-hand with law firms to connect clients with both PR and legal counsel.  

A quality firm should be able to point you in the direction of or, even better, formally introduce you to proper counsel for the legal matter you are dealing with. 

To learn more about The TASC Group’s work, see our PR and Communication services.

Back to top