Tim Maltin on PR’s Vital Role in Litigation

Tim Maltin has helmed Maltin PR for the last 15 years, bringing a vital public relations perspective to the London legal market and its international clients.

Maltin founded the firm in 2008, focusing on legal and litigation PR. On the legal PR side, he and his team work with influential law firms, raising firms’ profiles and positioning their lawyers as thought leaders across national and target trade press. He also helps craft successful PR strategy for groundbreaking office openings and other firm developments. Maltin PR heightens firms’ visibility by utilizing tech-forward strategies to increase digital footprint and ensure that attorneys’ expertise is heard on hot-button issues in their fields.

On the litigation PR front, Maltin works closely with the client’s wider team to ensure that reputation is effectively managed throughout the lifecycle of a litigation by integrating a dedicated PR plan and guiding clients and their lawyers through media relations in the age of viral news. The firm has had a hand in many high-profile cases. In one recent matter, Maltin worked with the Central Bank of Venezuela on its litigation against the Bank of England regarding access to 31 tons of gold owned by the South American country and held in England, valued at €1.9B. On the defense side, they’ve managed major corporations’ defense against investigations. With two offices in the U.S. in addition to their London headquarters, Maltin and his team are well-equipped to take on clients with complex multi-jurisdictional matters. 

Maltin has been recognized in the last four editions of the Lawdragon Global 100 Leaders in Legal Strategy & Consulting. He discusses current trends in litigation and legal PR, as well as his passion for historical research on the sinking of the Titanic, which has yielded three published books and multiple documentaries to his name.

Lawdragon: Tell me about the services Maltin PR provides to the legal industry.

Tim Maltin: We provide general PR support for law firms, as well as specific PR support around litigations, for their high-net-worth clients and for corporates. We also provide crisis communication, reputation management and directories support.

The team and I work across the legal industry, from solicitors and barristers through to litigation funders and, ultimately, the individuals and corporates involved in court proceedings. We provide a range of legal PR services to international, full-service, and boutique law firms, including organising new office launches, achieving cut-through in specialist areas, and raising the profiles of new joiners and lateral hires, as well as key thought-leaders within law firms, according to their specialist practice areas, in order to further raise their profile and create more work for them in their specialist areas.

LD: What areas are trending in your practice right now?

TM: Litigation PR is becoming increasingly important for our clients. We provide litigation support on high-value, often multi-jurisdictional, complex civil commercial litigation matters. We work closely with the clients’ counsel team and are considered an integral component of the overall litigation strategy. This trend seems to be growing as the media is now accepted to play a key role in the business of justice.

We are aware of the reputational risks and opportunities in open-court litigation. At Maltin PR, we work with leading counsel to provide an integrated PR strategy to manage the risks and opportunities of litigation, whilst optimising the public’s perception of our clients and their cases in the public eye. Our reputation management team works closely with high-net-worth individuals and corporates to protect their reputations and is also experienced in rehabilitating previously damaged reputations through strategies including thought leadership campaigns, ‘Right to be Forgotten’ applications and the creation of reputation assets.

We have also been advising on directories submissions for over a decade, as well as awards entries drafting. We support law firms throughout the referee, submission and interview processes, and also audit firms’ initial directories efforts and make recommendations to improve their rankings. Our specialists know every aspect of rankings and awards, thanks to senior-level experience gained in-house and in BD roles at international and Magic Circle law firms.

LD: What litigation PR matters you’ve handled stand out to you?

TM: Most of our litigation PR work is highly confidential, but something I can talk about was liaising with the Chief Executive of Cooley, a billion-dollar U.S. law firm and one of the top law firms in the world. They had approached us to handle the publicity surrounding the launch of their London office.

In PR terms, this was a major event – showcasing the new office to journalists and to the wider legal community in London and internationally. There were three main elements: legal trade press media coverage, client-facing sectoral vertical press coverage and national press. Our strategy was not only to focus on the opening itself, but also to promote the office opening by showcasing the expertise of the lawyers involved in the launch through high quality thought-leadership articles and comments. The office was opening with 20 partners and 55 lawyers at the outset. The announcement featured heavily in national and trade press, and the launch was described by one editor as “the biggest office opening in legal market history”.

In terms of litigation PR, some of the hacking investigations we have undertaken recently have been extremely interesting, and we have enjoyed working closely with international newswires to reveal the workings of the hack-for-hire industry, which often operates around litigations.

LD: What about trends within legal and litigation PR – are firms coming to you with one type of matter more than others?

TM: Although court cases are key in bringing out previously confidential information, often following through with media outreach, and even documentaries and dramas is increasingly recognized as a great way to galvanize public opinion and continue to achieve optimum results for your clients.

For example, class actions require bookbuilding PR, as well as website information hubs and media around the trials and compensation waterfalls, in order that the maximum number of claimants can be garnered, and that public and legal opinion can be managed to ensure optimum compensation for victims.

As well as assisting clients to build their reputations, we also assist in corporate battles where misinformation needs countering and the truth needs uncovering.

LD: Looking back, how has the legal PR world changed since the early part of your career?

TM: Today, most people consume media through their mobile phones, tablets and laptops, absorbing the latest stories as they scroll. This means that digital PR is vital in reputation management and litigation PR. Indeed, articles now live forever online, and often the domain authority of an online piece of coverage is now more important than the position on which it appears on the printed page.

The good thing about this is that news can also be managed “downstream.” That is to say, articles can be amended after publication, and "right to be forgotten" applications can be made in Europe. But news travels faster than ever today. Journalists can live tweet from a courtroom. Information on litigation can become public and go viral in seconds. Public opinion can be swayed overnight if media coverage is not handled correctly. For this reason, it is important to be first to the microphone.

We are also seeing the escalation of “fake news,” with media coverage on unreliable websites pumping out the other side’s messaging. Regulators are often quick to step in, provided one can prove the antecedents of the website or news outlet in question.

Public opinion can be swayed overnight if media coverage is not handled correctly. For this reason, it is important to be first to the microphone.

LD: What traits make for an excellent legal PR strategist?

TR: Always think like the client. Always think commercially – what is in the best overall interests of the client.

For example, it is crucial that the client’s legal team and the litigation PR team are equally involved in the litigation strategy. This is because often the potential reputational downside of a court case can outweigh the matter value.

A frequent mistake made when liaising with litigation PR professionals can be that they are kept somewhat isolated from the case in question, and only called upon for hearings and judgments. Instead, the litigation PR team should be incorporated into the legal team from the outset, allowing them to provide more comprehensive advice about communication and litigation strategy from a reputation perspective. It is vital that the legal and litigation PR teams acknowledge and respect the work of the other, chiefly because at certain times, the merits of a potential legal victory may not be as important as the wider concerns of the company, such as potential reputational damage to the client. For example, ensuring that negative information does not become public can be of more benefit to the share price of the organization than winning a particular commercial litigation.

LD: Tell me about Maltin PR specifically. What makes the firm stand out in the legal PR world? Why do law firms and other legal professionals come to you?

TM: Someone once said that we walk through brick walls for our clients. That is true, but we also make sure that we are being accurate with journalists and that our clients are behaving well, as the best way to have a good reputation is to behave well!

One of the unique aspects of Maltin PR is that we combine legal and litigation expertise with international reputation management skills, as well as strategic thinking.

We now have two offices in the US, as well as our London HQ, and we provide design and investigations services in-house.

This is increasingly important for our clients, who require global reputation management and campaigns to achieve their communications and business objectives.

LD: What do you do for fun when you’re outside the office?

Outside of work I am an expert on the sinking of the Titanic! I focus on debunking the myths surrounding the sinking and have published three books on the subject, including “101 Things You Thought You Knew About the Titanic… But Didn’t!”, “Titanic: First Accounts” and “Titanic: A Very Deceiving Night.” I wrote and presented a feature-length documentary for National Geographic and The Smithsonian Channel to mark the centenary of the tragedy, entitled “Titanic: Case Closed” and “Titanic’s Final Mystery,” respectively. I also co-wrote and co-presented “Titanic: Minute by Minute,” a live, three-hour broadcast for BBC Radio 2 with Jeremy Vine. The broadcast won the bronze award at the Sony Radio Awards and the Grand Award and Gold Award at New York Radio Awards. 

When I am not legal PR’ing or Titanic’ing in London, I am either with my wife and two children in Wiltshire, or to be found messing around with vintage cars at the bottom of the garden!