Whatever your view on the leak of client information from Panama law firm Mossack Fonseca, in PR terms the firm has handled its crisis communications in almost perfect fashion to maintain what it can of its reputation.
On its corporate website, its public relations director has sought to correct how the firm is described in the media, made clear its focus, pulled together a very detailed FAQs sheet, set out how it is regulated and how it screens clients, provided a response to some of the cases already appearing in the press and included social media details all of which are being updated as the story unravels.
Clearly, the story is much bigger than the firm itself, and certainly more than one lone public relations director can keep up with.
In its statement, the firm says that many of its clients come through ‘established and reputable law firms and financial institutions across the world.’ Here in the UK, the HMRC has issued a statement saying that it has already received a great deal of information on offshore companies, including in Panama, and is “committed to exposing and acting on financial wrongdoing.”
With such a threat to some reputations, no doubt all good in-house PRs will have asked their head of client services and/or the managing partner if their clients have been referred to Mossack Fonseca and if the firm has any connections. They will also be seeking to clarify what their position is and, where necessary, drafting a response ready for media calls.
The reality is that the vast majority of law firms will not be implicated in this story. However, it presents a very real opportunity to test crisis communication plans.
A client data breach can happen to any organisation and, in the UK, the Solicitors Regulatory Authority’s code of conduct requires firms to provide a duty of care to clients, with a proven business continuity plan in place that outlines how they will continue to trade should the worst happen. Any disaster recovery plan needs to include a crisis communications plan, which is essential to maintain clients and/or their trust in your brand and ultimately your business’s survival.
Is your firm fit to survive a modern day crisis?
A huge leak of documents has lifted the lid on how the rich and powerful use tax havens to hide their wealth. The files were leaked from one of the world's most secretive companies, a Panamanian law firm called Mossack Fonseca.