Byfield was approached by a leading UK law firm on a confidential basis. A former partner had been charged in relation to a white collar crime offence which was alleged to have taken place while he was working at the firm and was related to a highly publicised fraud case. The firm anticipated the former partner’s trial and the serious representational damage it might sustain should he be found guilty. A year before the trial was due to start, we were asked to advise the firm on how to manage its communications strategy in relation the criminal trial.
The Byfield Difference
The challenge was to not underestimate the potential damage the firm was facing: we had to embed within the firm an awareness of the risk this trial might pose to their reputation. We identified the broad range of stakeholders interested in the case – including parliamentary and NGO groups – in order to monitor their likely impact on how the case was reported in the media.
Working alongside the internal communications team, our strategy was to build a comprehensive communications suite, preparing the firm for every eventuality pre, during and post-trial. We prepared communications for staff, clients and the media, as well as for victims of the fraud, clarifying the firm’s position on the matter. We also provided advanced media training for the Managing Partner and members of the senior management team. We instilled in the firm a desire not just to prepare, but over prepare, with several options to deploy when needed.
We prepared for the trial with everything in place for the worst outcome. When the former partner was eventually found not guilty, the firm was able to use communications we had prepared for a less severe set of circumstances. The firm is now able to use the communication materials and protocols we prepared to handle any further inquiries into this matter and now possesses a crisis management template to deploy in any future crises.