‘Lawyers do PR work too’
In representing their clients in court and in public, lawyers sometimes have to play the role of public relations (PR) agent.
However, the primary concern is the well-being of the client.
“Protecting the interest of the client is my priority, but it’s also possible that lawyers get a share of the limelight in the process,” said lawyer Rameses Villagonzalo, one of two panel guests in a forum during the quarterly meeting of the Cebu Citizens Press Council (CCPC).
Villagonzalo cited as example his client Bella Ruby Santos, who is accused of homicide and kidnapping of 6-year-old Ellah Joy Pique in 2009.
He said he wanted to shy away from the media, especially when a judge, at one point, ordered the parties not to issue statements to the media.
Although sometimes he said it can’t be avoided that he had to defend himself as well before public opinion.
“The former chief of police told the media that I knew the whereabouts of Bella when she was still at large. I had to answer the accusation and defend myself because if I knew where my client was, that would have been tantamount to obstruction of justice,” Villagonzalo said.
“If there is a black propaganda against my client, it’s not good to remain silent. I have to issue a statement to counter the accusations of the opposing side,” he added.
Villagonzalo said that despite adverse publicity about his client, he was able to convince the court to let her post bail because evidence against her was weak.
The court still has to rule on his request to dismiss the case filed against Santos and his British partner Ian Charles Griffiths.
Lawyer Jane Paredes, Smart Communications Visayas-Mindanao chief for corporate communications, said her 20-year stint with the media helps in her current job.
“They complement each other. When it comes to legal intricacies, being a lawyer helps. My background in the media also helps me in dealing with our media contacts,” she said.
In dealing with the media, Paredes said lawyers have to remember to use layman’s language to get their message across clearly instead of legal jargon. They also need to bear in mind that they’re competing for space in newspapers.
Disclaimer: The comments uploaded on this site do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of management and owner of Cebudailynews. We reserve the right to exclude comments that we deem to be inconsistent with our editorial standards.