Joke’s On Us: Changing Perceptions of the Legal Industry

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The Association of Trial Lawyers of America (ATLA) has decided to change their name to The American Association for Justice, to better suit “what they do” rather than “who their members are.” The name change is an attempt to help others see that a lawyer’s job is to fight for the people, and to change the perception of boastful lawyers who sit back and collect exorbitant trial fees.

A firm’s reputation is an extremely valuable asset for creating and building status and often times is worth more than actual profitability. If in fact a true image change is to occur for the ATLA or American Association for Justice, more than a name change is required. Improved organizational practices over client confidentiality as a PR branding strategy should be considered.

Trust in Branding

Branding trust for a legal organization involves careful deliberation about where the new brand will live, who the brand affects, the strengths and weakness of the new brand, and examining barriers and opportunities the new name and image may bring forth.

If consistency does not exist on all levels, no benefits will come from re-branding the ATLA or American Association for Justice.

Branding Confidence and Trust in Client Confidentiality

Many firms have vulnerabilities that can lead to potential data leakage via email breach, with no defense implementation in place. At any given time in a firm, lawyers aren’t the only one’s handling client information. Assistants, front desk workers, and paralegals at the office may have access to sensitive information like clients names, banking information, location of assets and social security numbers. If any of this information would escape the firm into opposing council’s hands, malicious thieves, or even to the press, a firm’s reputation would be jeopardized.

Showing a commitment to the prevention of email theft and misuse can do much to brighten the AAJ’s public perception. Within a legal office, lawyers can extend this image of trust by assuring their clients that their information remains in the protected walls of the practice.

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Small and Large firms alike should consider implementing email anti-theft solutions and/or data encryption of sensitive email and documents. This will not only show the industries commitment to confidentiality but will also protect client and case information from being misused by co-workers, assistants, and other attorneys. It’s like putting a stamp of trust on the document itself, assuring the sender and recipients of email that the information is well protected.

Instead of looking for a written statement to put an end to their public humiliation and degradation, by implementing secure email practices, the ATLA can show a sincere intention to incorporate and complete this holistic branding process. Because a lawyers’ livelihood is based entirely on their reputation, it is reasonable and plausible that the industry would be eager to lighten public scrutiny and to do so in a manner that is quick and shows real intention.

Tip! Determine if there is chemistry. In addition to legal expertise and a track record in your area of need, you will need to form a good working relationship with your counsel.

In reality, many more trust-building activities need to take place with clients to prevent further brand erosion. Lawyers need to be more careful in safeguarding client and case information and practices should not involve an over-exaggerated concern with billable hours. To complete a full 180, the ATLA needs to provide their lawyers with new guidelines for their practice and also provide the tools and resources necessary to gain back customer trust and satisfaction.

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For the new American Association for Justice to surpass the principles and values set forth by the former persona the ATLA, adopting a robust client email privacy solution in their firms is a solid first step.

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