When the Lincoln Project, a political activist group led by longtime Republican operatives opposed to President Donald J. Trump, targeted large national and regional law firms representing Trump and the GOP in litigation over the presidential election, The American Lawyer turned to Goldberg Segalla’s Aidan M. Ryan to explain the activists’ strategies and tactics and the likely fallout within law firms.
“I don’t think it’s going to be the public that’s the deciding factor,” he said, analyzing the likelihood of Jones Day and other large law firms actually changing course because of the Lincoln Project’s pressure. “It’s going to be their biggest clients.”
Sure enough, within days the law firm Porter Wright dropped representation of the Trump campaign while Jones Day released a statement attempting to distance the firm from the sitting president. The American Lawyer returned to Aidan for explanation of why the Lincoln Project’s efforts were so swiftly successful.
“I think part of this is waging a multi-front war,” he said. “The Lincoln Project didn’t just take out an ad campaign, they hit them through social media, paid media, earned media, and actual protests.”
Aidan pointed out that the majority of law firms do not have the adequate resources or internal expertise to respond to these types of “multi-front” campaigns, combining paid attack advertisements, negative media coverage, social media, and in-person protests, and designed to cause internal strife along with pressure from law firms’ clients. The results, he said, indicate that the multipronged offensive was effective, and could become a template for other activist groups focused on other issues.
Aidan said law firms would be prudent to have internal discussions with attorneys about firm values to increase transparency around decision-making and identify potential flashpoints due to controversial client representations.
“Representing GOP, Trump in Election Suits Is Risky for Jones Day and Porter Wright,” The American Lawyer, November 11, 2020
“Big Firms’ Retreat From Trump, GOP Reveals Increasing Vulnerability to Public Relations Offensive,” The American Lawyer, November 17, 2020
MORE ABOUT GOLDBERG SEGALLA’S AIDAN M. RYAN:
Aidan M. Ryan, APR leads Goldberg Segalla’s Crisis and Litigation Communications offer, acting as an advisor to companies and organizations facing challenges that extend beyond the courtroom. With an eye on preserving a client’s credibility, shaping and conveying messages to media and the public, and achieving strategic business objectives, Aidan partners seamlessly with each client’s legal counsel and senior in-house leadership to help navigate challenges at the intersection of media and stakeholder communications, government, and the law. His broad experience in media, public, and government relations has included crisis management, litigation PR, reputation repair, opposition PR, and advocacy in matters involving executive and board-level misconduct, controversial publicly and privately funded development projects, high-profile business disputes, racial discrimination, alleged sexual harassment and abuse, and public health crises ranging from the coronavirus pandemic to isolated outbreaks of Legionnaires’ disease.