Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Litigation Does Not Take Place in a Vacuum

James F. Haggerty, author of In The Court of Public Opinion: Winning Strategies For Litigation Communications (American Bar Association Publishing 2009) has written an article examining the effect of public opinion in the U.S. Department of Justice's antitrust lawsuit to block the AT&T/T-Mobile merger, and the U.S. Federal Housing Finance Agency's lawsuit against seventeen banks over mortgage securities bought by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. Mr. Haggerty points out that both cases demonstrate the importance of effective communication in legal matters where public perception plays a role:
There is a valuable lesson in these cases for all companies facing the prospect of major litigation. High-profile lawsuits don't occur in a vacuum, and the relative strength or weakness of the parties can be greatly affected by the public response to a lawsuit's announcement. In this modern media age, communicating publicly about major litigation needs to be handled with the same seriousness as any other aspect of the case. Sometimes, the impact of this public communication can actually be greater than anything that happens within the courthouse walls.