Russian legal magazine: Litigation PR is an insurance policy for reputation, says Byfield

As Head of Byfield’s new Russia Desk, I recently accompanied Chairman Richard Elsen and Managing Director Gus Sellitto on a two-day business trip to Moscow. Having spent a busy time meeting with specialist PR agencies, law firms and litigants, we ended the visit by speaking with one of Russia’s chief legal magazines (Legal Success). The magazine is now published, so here are a couple of highlights from the Desk in English and the interview in Russian.

Richard Elsen, who has over fifteen years of experience working with the clients from the region and first visited Moscow ten years ago, speaks about the changes that Russian legal system has undergone since then. He explains why London has long been attracting Russian litigants and what the difference is between Russian and foreign litigants using specialist PR consultancies.

Gus Sellitto comments on the development of in-house PR departments in law firms over the past ten years and shares his views on the professionalism of PR specialists in Russian law firms. He explains how legal PR has developed in the minds of lawyers, and gives insights into the challenges Russian and British legal PR specialists are currently facing.

Speaking about similarities between litigation PR in the UK and Russia, Richard says that there is one thing in particular that spans both jurisdictions, which is a growing understanding that reputation is important in a dispute whether it’s in London or in Moscow; and that lack of due attention to preserving that reputation can have long lasting effects in terms of negative perception of a company or an individual.

On the Russian law firms that are trying to operate on the UK legal market, Richard says that what he has noticed of late is that those Russian firms that have been in London for a while are pretty active behind the scenes, but he wonders about their visibility in other mediums. “I think that Russian firms are as media savvy as any”, he says and adds, “but I wonder sometimes about resources in their satellite offices”.

Speaking about in-house PRs at law firms, Gus says that it is great to see how developed the market has become in such a short term. “We are seeing very talented and professional people as law firm directors of communications which is a welcome development as the legal market begins to mature in terms of marketing and PR”, he believes.