Last year Byfield partnered up with Legal Business magazine to investigate law firms’ approach to building, preserving, and defending their reputations. In the report, ‘Risky Business: taking the pulse on law firm reputation management’, we examined the legal sector’s varying approaches to reputation management by surveying 50 in-house communications professionals at the top 100 UK law firms and analysing their responses.

We found that:

  • 64% of respondents believed cyber-security threats are the biggest risk to their firm’s reputation over the next two years, followed by misuse / proliferation of social media, increased regulation and clients’ reputational issues. 
  • 60% of those surveyed said that law firms take risks to reputation as seriously as other organisations.
  • 78% of respondents have a clear strategy to deal with reputational issues.
  • 36% of firms have monthly meetings with managing partners and senior management around risk and reputation management. However, 22% of respondents say that their reputational risk strategy is never formally reviewed.

Soon after our report was published, Byfield Consultancy’s co-founder and Managing Director, Gus Sellitto, was interviewed by Legal Week warning firms against rushing to put out a response following a data security breach.

He said: “You need to give as much reassurance as can be given. It is important not to have an information vacuum, but also important to not give news until you know the scale of the situation. [People at the firm] need to get together and assess what that risk is, and then start communicating.”“A chain of command then needs to be established – we need to see a face put to the name, with a managing partner coming out and making assurances about the IT security. They have international offices they need to coordinate, so they need to have a number of strong spokespeople.”

Reputation management is becoming increasingly important for all companies, not just law firms, especially with the advancement of technology and social media. The increasing calls for transparency and ethics in all parts of a business is moving crisis and issues management to the top of the agenda for many firms. Now that we are well aware of the issues and threats to look out for, we need to keep the discussion going as to what more can be done to ensure that we can minimise the risk to reputation.

To download the Risky Business: taking the pulse on law firm reputation management report, please click here.