A fairy tale ending this week for Cardiff University’s Innocence Project could have been the greatest pro-bono story in history. Elina Miezite reports on the media’s handling of this conviction-quashing tale which should by rights be told in a Grisham novel…
This week, I couldn’t possibly name a law firm of the week as it was law students and academics who were the ones really making the news. Dwaine George, who spent 12 years in jail after being wrongly found guilty of murder had his conviction overturned thanks to 10 years’ investigative work by law students at Cardiff University. In this blog post, I’d like to share a few things we can learn from this case when it comes to PR and media.
The ultimate profile
A decade’s work for the university’s law students this week culminated in a huge amount of media interest and the case generated over 100 pieces of coverage.
Thanks to this ‘against all odds’ angle, Cardiff University seized the opportunity to share its students’ success and the potential impact that its powerfully titled Innocence Project could have on real life cases. Not unlike a law firm professing its own achievements in the media, this publicity could certainly be a make or break for any aspiring lawyer when deciding on institutions to apply for.
Where are the real lawyers?
It isn’t surprising that the media swallowed this angle hook, line and sinker, but there is an argument to say that the professional help the Innocence Project received in winning the case may have missed a trick by standing back from the story.
The Innocence Project of course deserves the lion’s share of credit for its investigative work, but had to share the burden with solicitors who then instructed barristers, who subsequently represented the case to the Court of Appeal. If you read the article in The Guardian you will notice a quote from James Wood QC, but the barrister’s name appears in only a very few publications.
Of course, there’s also an argument to say ‘why let the truth get in the way of the story’; but those advisors – many of whom were working on a pro-bono basis, may have missed out on the opportunity to showcase their involvement.
With a strong network of media contacts and in-depth knowledge of professional services, Christina advises a range of businesses and law firms on media and business development initiatives.