find the latest legal job
Banking Associate - 1-6PQE - Allen & Overy
Category: Banking and Finance Law | Location: United Kingdom
· Banking Associate - 1-6 PQE - Allen & Overy
View details
Academic Dean and Head of School of the TC Beirne School of Law
Category: Other | Location: Brisbane QLD 4000
· An outstanding opportunity · Provide educational, research and organisational leadership
View details
Senior Property Lawyer I Commercial Litigator
Category: Property Law | Location: Arncliffe NSW 2205
· Rapidly growing law firm, working with a highly experienced team in a high growth industry across all areas of property and strata law
View details
Senior Property Lawyer I Commercial Litigator
Category: Property Law | Location: All Sydney NSW
· Rapidly growing law firm, working with a highly experienced team in a high growth industry across all areas of property and strata law
View details
Senior Property Lawyer I Commercial Litigator
Category: Property Law | Location: Sydney NSW 2000
· Rapidly growing law firm, working with a highly experienced team in a high growth industry across all areas of property and strata law
View details
Lawyers and media find common ground

Lawyers and media find common ground

UNLESS THEY had been asleep for the last eight months, no one could have missed reading something about the Toll Patrick takeover — in fact, everyone probably read several articles and…

UNLESS THEY had been asleep for the last eight months, no one could have missed reading something about the Toll Patrick takeover — in fact, everyone probably read several articles and analyses and possibly chuckled at a witty advertising campaign. The attraction of the public’s attention was no accident.

Lawyers on the matter say the utilisation of the media was the key link to the strategies employed in Patrick’s defence against Toll’s bid for the company. Eight months of hostilities ended just in time for the Easter break, with an agreement signed on Thursday 13 April. Patrick milked an additional $1.6 billion on Toll’s original bid.

But while the lawyers focused their attentions on the more routine transactional aspects (and the less routine, including seven litigations) the media strategy was guided by Paul White, Patrick’s communications adviser, which included Tim Duncan at Hintons.

A former legal reporter for the ABC and Channel 9, White said he dedicated the last 20 years to helping lawyers come to terms with the fact that, like it or not, the media is a dominant force that must be taken into account. In a takeover in particular, White said, the legal and media strategies must be aligned.

Also, the legal and communications teams must work closely together and understand each other’s strategy. “You have to have no silos,” he said.

“If the lawyers are in one room and the media advisers are in another, it will be a certain failure,” White said. “If you have the structure wrong, you’re dead.” On the Patrick deal, he worked closely with Andrew Clarke of Allens Arthur Robinson, Leon Zwier of Arnold Bloch Leibler and John Kench of Johnson Winter & Slattery, together with the investment bankers and Patrick itself.

The team members had a 9am meeting every day and would also talk through the day, and they developed a mutual respect that allowed things to happen quickly. “We were able to do things with the media and communicate our message early in the day and interpret things very quickly.”

This respect, and the fact that White was able to work with the senior lawyers on the transaction, also meant that when he needed something he got it straight away. “They had to trust that I would not use in a way that was not appropriate.”

In the old days, he said, lawyers would try tocontrol the media aspects as well as the legal, but now, if a lawyer reacts in that way, “you are probably dealing with a lawyer who is out of their depth”.

“If they are unable to realise the media strategy is vital and the client wants it to work, you’ve got a problem with your lawyer. Most lawyers get it, but there is always a balance. They get passionate about what they are trying to do and often preparation of the documents are not in the cycle I need for journalists,” he said.

His work on Patrick was “incredibly intense because we were running a defence … there was a lot of litigation on foot and we had to explain that litigation to the journalists”.

“We had to justify to the journalists while the lawyers were justifying to the courts, we had to explain that [the litigation] was not necessarily just part of the takeover tactic, they were cases we wanted heard that had legitimate standing,” White said.

In terms of the advertising campaign, which saw full page ads placed in the mainstream press with the slogan ‘Patrick needs Toll like a fish needs a bicycle’, White said there are a multitude of “boring ads” running about the intentions of shareholders. “We wanted something that reflected Patrick’s slightly off-beat image, that would attract attention and keep the other side off balance,” he said.

“As far as we could tell, people in the game enjoyed them, they got the message across and that’s all you can ask for.”

Like this story? Read more:

Book commemorates diamond milestone for WA law society

QLS condemns actions of disgraced lawyer as ‘stain on the profession’

NSW proposes big justice reforms to target risk of reoffending

Lawyers and media find common ground
lawyersweekly logo
Promoted content
Recommended by Spike Native Network
more from lawyers weekly
Gavel, legal book, criminal lawyers
Jan 19 2018
Three criminal lawyers named NSW magistrates
The NSW Attorney-General has announced the appointment of three new local court magistrates. ...
Warning
Jan 18 2018
Lawyer highlights ‘unintended consequences’ on SSM estate planning
A succession lawyer has warned that the right for same-sex couples to legally marry could have a sub...
drug rehabilitation services available in rural and remote communities
Jan 18 2018
ALS survey shines spotlight on insufficient rehabilitation services
A new survey posted by the Aboriginal Legal Service (NSW/ACT) has revealed an alarming insight into ...
APPOINTMENTS
Allens managing partner Richard Spurio, image courtesy Allens' website
Jun 21 2017
Promo season at Allens
A group of lawyers at Allens have received promotions across its PNG and Australian offices. ...
May 11 2017
Partner exits for in-house role
A Victorian lawyer has left the partnership of a national firm to start a new gig with state governm...
Esteban Gomez
May 11 2017
National firm recruits ‘major asset’
A national law firm has announced it has appointed a new corporate partner who brings over 15 years'...
opinion
Nicole Rich
May 16 2017
Access to justice for young transgender Australians
Reform is looming for the process that young transgender Australians and their families must current...
Geoff Roberson
May 11 2017
The lighter side of the law: when law and comedy collide
On the face of it, there doesn’t seem to be much that is amusing about the law, writes Geoff Rober...
Help
May 10 2017
Advocate’s immunity – without fear or without favour but not both
On 29 March 2017, the High Court handed down its decision in David Kendirjian v Eugene Lepore & ...