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Cavalry PR Co-Founder Howard Breuer quoted in LAW360 on asset activism and Donald Trump

Wallace Global is a progressive investment fund that adheres to principles of “asset activism” — a far cry from the large, publicly traded companies that are the bread-and-butter of large law firms.

“In this case, Wallace Global promotes itself as a leader in the ‘asset activism movement,’ meaning they’re trying to appeal to the most left-leaning and activist-leaning investors and potential investors, and that will translate to cutting ties with firms like Morgan Lewis,” Howard Breuer, co-founder of Cavalry PR, said.

“Any other fund claiming to be part of this same movement or that’s trying to appeal to the same investor demographic is scrutinizing its relationships in the same way and is likely to follow Wallace Global’s lead,” he added.

https://www.law360.com/articles/909859/client-pushback-over-trump-no-skin-off-biglaw-s-nose

Client Pushback Over Trump No Skin Off BigLaw’s Nose

Law360, New York (April 4, 2017, 8:21 PM EDT) — Despite the highly publicized and scathing letter sent to Morgan Lewis & Bockius LLP last week by a client kicking the law firm to the curb over its representation of President Donald Trump, BigLaw firms are not likely to start sweating their ties to Trump anytime soon.

The media hoopla surrounding the March 28 letter from Wallace Global Fund co-chair H. Scott Wallace eviscerating the law firm for “enabling” alleged conflicts of interest through its tax advice to the president has raged over the past week, but experts say Morgan Lewis and other law firms that represent Trump don’t have too much to worry about when it comes to pushback from clients.

Law firms that have represented Trump include Morgan Lewis, Jones Day, Kasowitz Benson Torres LLP and Arnold & Porter LLP.

In general, large law firms represent a number of people and entities that could potentially be seen by certain clients as morally reprehensible, including white collar defendants, corporations accused of fraud and tobacco companies, but that doesn’t mean they should or will be boycotted, according to Kent Zimmermann, a consultant with Zeughauser Group.

“Everybody has a right to representation under our system. I think that’s a strength of our judicial system and society and I think it’s a slippery slope to start to criticize law firms based on their client lists,” Zimmermann said.

He added that, as someone who is not a Trump supporter, he wouldn’t be eager to represent the president, but “I think law firms have a duty collectively, as a profession, to make sure everybody has representation.”

Whether or not the criticism of Morgan Lewis is appropriate, there’s no indication that the type of activism Wallace Global Fund engaged in will become commonplace.

Wallace Global is a progressive investment fund that adheres to principles of “asset activism” — a far cry from the large, publicly traded companies that are the bread-and-butter of large law firms.

“In this case, Wallace Global promotes itself as a leader in the ‘asset activism movement,’ meaning they’re trying to appeal to the most left-leaning and activist-leaning investors and potential investors, and that will translate to cutting ties with firms like Morgan Lewis,” Howard Breuer, co-founder of Cavalry PR, said.

“Any other fund claiming to be part of this same movement or that’s trying to appeal to the same investor demographic is scrutinizing its relationships in the same way and is likely to follow Wallace Global’s lead,” he added.

But the buck will likely stop at small and privately owned clients, according to Mark Jungers, co-founder of Lippman Jungers LLC.

“No large, public client is going to make a decision like that,” Jungers said. “I don’t think they’re under enough pressure to distance themselves from the administration.”

In fact, some corporations’ interests align with the policies of the Trump administration, he said.

“These are sophisticated businesspeople and I think they’re going to make business decisions. Using the best law firm is a good business decision, regardless of who their other clients are,” Jungers added.

Morgan Lewis’ representation of the president and the publicity it has received as a result could also end up helping the law firm, according to Hugh Simons, a legal industry consultant.

“I think the net effect might actually be positive for Morgan Lewis because they gain more from the fame and notoriety than they lose from those who find it reprehensible,” Simons said.

Additionally, working with the White House, regardless of who is in office, is still a ticket to business and prestige, said Allan Ripp of Ripp Media.

Members of the current administration will move on to new jobs in a few years, taking general counsel positions with major clients or landing at prestigious law firms, and having those relationships is “golden,” Ripp said.

“I don’t think there’s going to be a mass defection, or a tipping point,” he said. “The agendas of major corporate clients are still consistent with many of the things the administration is trying to do — growth, jobs, tax rates, rolling back in regulations — they want as much help as they can get.”

Additionally, the Wallace Global Fund paid Morgan Lewis just under $80,000 for legal services in the most recent fiscal year, tax records published online by The American Lawyer show, a drop in the bucket for a law firm like Morgan Lewis.

“It’s not like Goldman Sachs is leaving,” Jungers said. “Law firms don’t even like $80,000 clients because they create conflicts. These law firms are built on representing clients that give them millions of dollars a year worth of work.”

According to Ripp, unless there’s a major crisis of some sort caused by Trump that would precipitate impeachment, law firms are likely to proceed as they have with past presidential administrations — representing leaders of all political stripes in a variety of matters.

–Editing by Pamela Wilkinson and Catherine Sum.

PR for a Missing Mom Evolved Into A Series of Successful Legal Battles

 

ANNE BREMNER

Shortly after Susan Cox Powell went missing from her home in West Valley City, Utah more than five years ago, I was asked to help Charles and Judith Cox with public relations associated with their daughter’s disappearance. Little did I know that this was but the first step in a very long, tortured journey for everybody involved.

The case received national media attention due to the bizarre circumstances surrounding Susan’s disappearance, Susan’s husband’s Josh’s move to his father Steven’s Puyallup, Wash. home shortly thereafter, and the very public battle between the Powells and the Coxes over everything from Susan’s journals to custody of her two sons. Susan’s family and I were insistent that Josh be deprived custody amid mounting evidence of inappropriate behavior and word that the West Valley City PD was preparing to arrest Josh for murder.

My defined role as PR attorney drastically changed on Feb. 5, 2012,  when Josh Powell murdered his sons and himself during a state supervised visitation. I was devastated by the deaths and completely shocked when I learned more about the state’s failure to protect Charlie and Braden while in its custody and control.  What started as a simple PR campaign quickly turned into a crusade to ensure the protection of children while in state custody and to publicize the need for more protection for this vulnerable population.

Not long after Charlie and Braden died, I had the honor of working very closely with the Coxes and with State Sen. Pam Roach (R-Auburn) to pass the Charlie and Braden Powell Act, which protects children in state custody proceedings that involve a parent who is a suspect in a violent crime.  The legislation importantly remembers these beautiful, young boys and aims to prevent similar tragedies.  If this legislation existed at the time Charlie and Braden were in state custody, they very well might still be alive.

These senseless deaths could have been prevented if the State of Washington and its social workers at the time had recognized and prioritized their duty to protect children.  Over the last eight years, the child-welfare division of the Washington’s Department of Social and Health Services (DSHS) has paid out over $160 million to children who were tortured, starved, raped and sometimes killed while in its custody and care.

After the boys were killed, my law firm began investigating the state’s role in their deaths and quickly uncovered a constellation of failures.  It was evident that their deaths could and should have been prevented.  However, as evidenced by the substantial sums of money paid to victims over the last decade, neither DSHS nor its social workers believe a duty was owed to Charlie and Braden and nothing was done to protect them from the obvious danger that was their father.  The boys’ estates filed suit against DSHS in April 2013 and the case is set for trial in May 2016.

I was involved in other legal battles connected with the case. I successfully co-represented Susan’s family in litigation over the victims’ life insurance policies. And I successfully collected a  $2 million judgment for Steven Powell’s neighbor after the elder Powell was convicted of voyeurism.

The Coxes originally came to me because they were in crisis, and although that crisis has broadened, I never floundered in my representation of their needs and will continue to advocate for them as well as others in times of need.

As a PR and crisis management team member with Cavalry PR,  I’m very proud to be able to help clients on so many levels.

Litigation attorney Evan Bariault contributed to this post.

20 Years Later, A Heartbroken Mother Still Remembers, and Still Fights

MIKA MOULTON

Twenty years ago today, on Aug. 7, 1995, I stepped out of the limousine and walked across the clean-cut grass.

People gathered, some walking hand in hand, others standing at a distance.  The cars continued to file in, one by one.  As they  parked, their occupants moved toward the gravesite.

As I glanced toward my right, I saw the beautiful royal blue coffin, carried by eight children from our neighborhood in a Chicago suburb.  My knees buckled at the site as the funeral director kept me from falling to the ground, then held my arm and guided me toward the final goodbye to my son.

Christopher Meyer

Christopher Meyer

Over these 20 years, I’ve allowed myself to wander to that dark place and imagine the horror Christopher suffered.  I force my thoughts back to his sparkling blue eyes and deep set dimples.  I think about the thousands of children that Christopher’s Clubhouse has provided with quality, comprehensive safety education.  I visualize the thousands more that can learn and become empowered.

Twenty years ago, I was shocked to find out that I was far from alone in this dreadful pain of an abducted and murdered child.  I was shaken to realize the magnitude of the problem.  It was something that I never imagined could happen to me.  And for 20 years, I remain connected to the statistics.

Over the course of the last 20 years, I have watched and realized the statistics have barely changed.  Children are still abducted, abused, murdered, sexually assaulted and go missing.  They are trafficked, neglected, preyed upon beaten and molested.  And for 20 years I have tried to get people to listen.

And finally, people are.  Society realizes something has to be done!

For 20 years I have been gathering momentum to STOP these heinous crimes against our most innocent.   I only wish 20 years ago I would have had the support, help, knowledge and guidance of a team such as Cavalry PR’s.  I wish there would have been someone beside me to help me form the words when asked questions by the reporters.  I could have used the help of someone that knew what to say and to whom to respond.  I only wish someone could have been there that understood the very details of my pain.  As a member of the Crisis Management Team at Cavalry PR, I “get it” now.  I know what that pain is and how to get through it with the least amount of chaos.

And now – looking back 20 years, I know that we CAN educate our kids.  We CAN make a difference. We CAN make the next twenty years brighter.

Help us to envision a safer future.  Help Christopher’s Clubhouse to make a change in the lives of more kids.  For $20 per month, you can become a warrior, hero and lifesaver.  By giving up just one Starbucks each week, you CAN AND WILL make a difference.

At Netflix, a slide into arrogance was a slide towards disaster

GINA KEATING

As a journalist, I always dreamed of being in the “war room” when a major corporate PR disaster went down. A fly on the wall, I would finally see how some companies correctly assess what went wrong while others worsen the debacle by refusing to admit the mistake.

In my book, Netflix: The Epic Battle for America’s Eyeballs, I analyze a major PR blunder that torpedoed Netflix’s share price by nearly 40%, lost it a million subscribers, and sent CEO Reed Hastings into hiding from the media for a year.

In 2011, Hastings announced that Netflix would raise prices by nearly 60 percent and split into two web sites – Netflix for streaming and Qwikster for DVDs by mail.

Consumers were so angry that Hastings eventually canceled the split-off and apologized. The damage to the company’s reputation took two or three years to repair.

Here’s some lessons learned that I sometimes share with Cavalry PR clients:

1.       Hastings did not to listen to his customers and his PR team. Hastings later admitted sliding into “arrogance” on the basis of his past successes in prioritizing optimization over customer preferences. He decided that customers didn’t need an explanation as to why the plan ultimately would be best for everyone.

2.       Honest is best. After news of the price hike leaked out on social media, Netflix’s PR team wanted to explain to customers that the company was losing money on DVD by mail because of postage-rate hikes. Instead, Hastings told them to downplay the price hike as “less than the cost of a latte per month.” This in the middle of a recession.

3.       Don’t get defensive. Rather than admit his mistake, Hastings wanted to refocus customers on his split-off plan. Unfortunately, customers hated the idea and they let him know in angry comments on the Netflix site and his Facebook page.

4.       Make your apology at noon in the public square. Hastings posted the apology video on YouTube at midnight on a Sunday. The financial press was livid and, right or wrong, scented a cover up.

Saturday Night Live, the late night talk shows and bloggers were swift and ruthless in their parodies and scorn. Just months after he was named Fortune Magazine’s Business Person of the Year, Hastings had to severely curtail his media appearances.

 

Cavalry PR team member Gina Keating is a PR and marketing specialist, investigator, journalist and author. She is based in Corpus Christi, Texas.

For A Broken-Hearted Sister, Need for Counseling Took a Backseat to Trial of the Century

TANYA BROWN

There were two traumas that destroyed my psyche two decades ago – the loss of my older sister and the outrageous trial that followed.

We will never get over the loss of Nicole, but I could have emerged much less traumatized by the trial if I had excellent counselors who understood what we were going through.

But it was a different time. Everybody, including myself, was too focused on the Trial of the Century. There had never been this big of a trial before. The government wasn’t prepared to deal with all of the defense team’s maneuvers and antics—much less the crisis’s impact on the victims’ families.

Through the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office, my family was assigned a victim-witness advocate who was compassionate beyond belief and who played a crucial role for my family during the court day. He escorted us from the DA’s office to the courtroom, protected us from the prying media, helped us understand the system and provided us with community referrals and counselors who could help us heal.

Trials are very dynamic and it is a different type of exhaustion. In fact, it can be a greater exhaustion than the crime itself because you are trying to understand something so foreign and confusing in the midst of your emotions. You are so emotionally, mentally, spiritually and physically fatigued that even trying to comprehend the system can become incredibly overwhelming.

So, the advocate took that pressure from us and helped us navigate through the chaos of the Trial of The Century. I truly am so grateful to him. He is still in my heart.

However, looking back now, two decades later, there was something missing: A friend, a liaison, a coach.

I needed alternative means of support beyond our court advocate – someone to help me transition from a day of court proceedings to my regular routine in my personal and professional life.

Sure, the DA’s Victim Witness Program gave me a referral for a local therapist, but the counselor was more focused on the case and my sister’s children – the youngest survivors of the victims – than on my mind and all the pain that occupied it.

That neglect left me disenfranchised with therapists in general. So when the trial ended, I never reached out to anyone. I held everything in.

That didn’t work out too well.

As I documented last year in my book, Finding Peace Amid The Chaos, because I had no skills to manage the chaos, depression, anger, and hate that festered inside of me, I wound up for several days as a psych patient in the local hospital.

It sounds rough, but that was a key turnaround point. I finally started learning how to deal with my pain.

In the months and years that followed, I kept learning about counseling and psychology until I found myself with a graduate degree in counseling psychology, although my life experiences have given me far better training to help people in crisis than any degree on my wall.

Today, as a speaker, coach, author and member of the Cavalry PR Crisis Management Team, I make up for the wrongs of the past. Where there are murder cases that are so high-profile and chaotic that the victims have no one in their corner who truly understands what they’re going through and who truly knows how  to help, know that I am here. And I am with you.

The Trouble With Tears in a Media Interview

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TIFFANY BERG COUGHRAN

We’ve all become emotional when sharing a traumatic experience. We become weepy, our breathing changes, and before we realize it, we are inadvertently blowing snot bubbles as our shoulders give way to deep heaving. In that moment, our story becomes trapped; seeming to fight its way out of our body in blurts and broken sentences.

High emotion and tears may be warranted given tragedy, loss and grief. They reflect great depth and can move a viewing audience to action. However, tears, when displayed in the extreme, may have the exact opposite effect.

Firstly, tears interrupt the flow of the important content you are sharing. With each sob, sentences are abbreviated, facts are omitted or brushed over, and significant details may be garbled, making interview footage unclear or unusable save short snippets.

Secondly, it is difficult to maintain eye contact while crying.  Focusing on a camera while sobbing, wiping one’s tears with tissue, or looking down to avoid personal vulnerability, make the process of crying while being interviewed a challenging combination.

Lastly, crying creates a distraction from the topic at hand. In extreme cases, an emotional breakdown on camera may become its own headline. If an individual is overly dramatic or theatrical, even if unintentionally, it may prove to be damaging.

When being interviewed, find a balance between sincere emotion and sobbing. Displayed sparingly, tears can compel empathy from a viewing audience and give depth to effective, concise responses to the media’s quest for perspective.

Tiffany Berg Coughran is a PR and marketing professional, author, grief counselor and “charity addict” who has mentored many speakers, authors and celebrities on media protocols. She provides PR and crisis management with Cavalry PR.

Madyson Middleton slaying a painful reminder that we need to do more to protect children

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MIKA MOULTON

Once again my stomach knots up and the awful memories return as I read about  another senseless murder of an innocent child.

This time, it’s 8-year-old Maddy Middleton. I feel her parents’ pain and I know every moment of everything they’re feeling, because I had the same experience 20 years ago.

On Aug. 7, 1995, my 10-year-old son, Christopher, went missing from our small village of Aroma Park, Illinois.

As the authorities and volunteers searched,  my entire being was consumed by pain that I couldn’t stop no matter what I did. I kept thinking, “When am I going to wake up?”

When Christopher’s badly decomposed body was found, blessings were the last thing I could ever think of.

Once that all consuming grief began to subside, I knew that I couldn’t just sit and wallow in self pity.  I was angry that my son had been taken in such a violent manner.  Then I realized that anger is a powerful energy. And so I decided to redirect that energy into something positive.  I needed to find blessings within this catastrophe.

The blessings have come in the way of learning the statistics of missing children and what needs to be done to protect them.  I chose to create a nonprofit organization:  Christopher’s Clubhouse.  We provide safety education and prevention programs to children, families, teens and women.

Also this year, I teamed up with Cavalry PR, an agency that shares my vision. Together, when crisis strikes, we provide our clients with a broader range of services than they’re going to find anywhere else — not only helping them manage and share their story but also helping them as individuals desperate to have someone by their side who truly understands what they’re going through and who has the background and the resources to help them in myriad ways.

The majority of us go about our daily lives believing that all is well in the world.  We are saddened to occasionally hear about the missing or murdered child, never hearing about the other 800,000.  We have faith that our ‘system’ will take care of the offenders and absconders and believe that it will never touch our lives.  Most of us feel very blessed, we have a roof over our head and food on the table.

I am blessed that I have the strength to move forward and work to better our communities for our children.  I am blessed that, after catastrophe touched my life, I was able to redirect that anger into relentless advocacy for children and for victims.

But on days like this, when I’m thinking about how Madyson Middleton’s body was discovered in a Dumpster in her own neighborhood in Santa Cruz, not far from where she was last seen riding her scooter, it’s tough not to be angry. These tragedies have to stop.

As a society we have to work together to turn our anger into positive energy to protect our children from predators and teach them how to protect themselves.

 

Through Cavalry PR, I’ll stand by crime victims in their toughest moments

BETH KARAS

For decades, as a New York prosecutor and then as a national correspondent with Court TV and HLN, I saw too many instances where families, already devastated by tragedy, endured what might have felt like a second level of trauma.

Still reeling from the discovery of a body or the arrest of a loved one, they were now forced to decide whether to grant an interview. And to whom. And whether to give more than one. And what would be too much, or too little, as they struggled to turn their personal torment into a positive influence for others?

It’s mind boggling to think how these victims can be expected to handle the intense media spotlight, which can sometimes influence even very high-profile public figures to make  questionable decisions.

For example, in a May 13 Op-Ed piece in The Baltimore Sun, former deputy state’s attorney Page Croyder suggested that Prosecutor Marilyn Mosby hurriedly filed criminal charges against six officers only four days after Freddie Gray’s funeral as a “reckless or incompetent” form of “crowd control” to quell her city’s riots.

In trial after trial, I’ve seen traumatized families on television, unprepared for what to expect, only to be asked questions intended to make them cry.  Families have asked me for assistance in establishing a foundation, for guidance in getting a book deal, or just for better preparation for the media onslaught. In each case, I was frustrated that I couldn’t stand by these families at such a difficult time. Now, as a member of the Cavalry PR team, I can.

Cavalry PR’s emphasis on victim advocacy, support and empowerment is consistent with my goals. In fact, it’s the ideal place for me to channel my expertise in a new direction to help crime victims and their families, attorneys and other trial participants, and the wrongly accused and convicted, get their message out in the most meaningful way. This can be by publishing a book, raising awareness through their own foundation, public speaking, calculated media appearances, or whatever is the best way to achieve the client’s goals.

A year ago, I founded the subscription website Karas On Crime to cover Jodi Arias’s penalty phase retrial, which ended in March. I now use the site to highlight crime and justice stories and educate my members about the law, while working through Cavalry PR to provide knowledge, insight and courage to those facing great pressure and adversity under the sometimes blinding media spotlight.

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