A lawyer and journalist finds her “happy place”
- Terry Kaufman
- March 26, 2018
As a journalist who also happens to be a lawyer, Newsroom PR is my happy place. I have the unique opportunity to blend my two professions by promoting brilliant lawyers who are changing the legal landscape in the workplace, technology, the boardroom, and every other area where lives intersect. These men and women are shaping the conversations we have with our colleagues as they shine a spotlight on issues that matter, and they deserve to be celebrated and publicized.
Newsroom PR connects brilliant lawyers with the people and organizations they were meant to help. A legal issue can be paralyzing without the right support. Finding that support can be debilitating without a roadmap. When we feature an attorney in a trade publication or a national news outlet or a talk show, we’ve provided a roadmap to that expert.
It’s all about storytelling, whether in negotiating a contract or seeking justice for a victim of discrimination. What I learned from my many years as a corporate attorney and a magazine columnist is that the best lawyers, and the best journalists, are fundamentally storytellers. A good story is both captivating and illuminating, and the stories we tell on behalf of our clients, the glimpses we provide into their interesting cases and insights, are both.
I began my journalism career at the copy desk of the Daily Californian, marking up hard copy with red and blue pencils. My best friend worked nights as a typesetter, dropping hot lead. Print journalism was in its ascendancy; newspapers had large payrolls and limitless advertising revenue. I studied investigative journalism with the late Ben Bagdikian, a hero of the Academy Award-nominated film The Post. My mentor was the late Berkeley Journalism School dean Edwin Bayley, whose book “Joe McCarthy and the Press” won the George Polk Award for research in journalism and was a finalist for the National Book Award and the Pulitzer Prize. It was a great time to be a journalist.
I began my law career as counsel for a captive equipment leasing company and climbed the corporate ladder to acting general counsel of the parent company, an international technology company that had just gone public. From there, I moved to technology giant Intel Corporation, where my client base included three continents and multiple time zones. There was never down time as we dealt with every conceivable legal issue that could arise in a business or a workplace. It was a great time to be an attorney.
In contrast, this is a difficult time to be a journalist and a challenging time to be an attorney. Media outlets struggle to maintain readership amid plummeting revenues. Social media and shorter attention spans have wreaked havoc on traditional journalism, forcing newsrooms to downsize or even shut down. The White House uses journalists for target practice, declaring the Fourth Estate “enemies of the people.” At the same time, the legal profession’s proverbial black eye has been further blackened by faulty, incomplete or biased reporting done by understaffed and under-resourced news departments.
This is a perfect time for Newsroom PR. Because many of us have been journalists, we know how to get and tell stories. We know how to work through obstacles, how to find good sources, how to do quality research. We don’t bother reporters; we make their jobs easier by providing them with well-written stories or connecting them with experts who help them get the story right. Because a number of us are also attorneys, we understand the nuances of the law, we know the right questions to ask, and we deliver clear, accurate and unbiased content. In short, we help our clients shine.