Jay Jaffe, the founder and CEO of a public relations firm that pioneered law industry marketing, died last week. He was 68.
Jaffe founded his Washington-based agency, called Jaffe PR, in the wake of the U.S. Supreme Court's 1977 Bates v. State Bar of Arizona decision, which allowed law firms to market their services. The decision was a victory for First Amendment advocates and helped start a new public relations sector. Today Jaffe's agency represents law firms of all sizes, from boutiques to mid-size to Am Law 100 firms.
Jaffe was born and raised in Chicago, and worked as a journalist for an Augusta, Ga. newspaper and later for a CBS TV affiliate before turning to public relations.
"We are deeply saddened by Jay’s passing and will greatly miss his passion for living a life of learning, his innovative and bold style, and his many stories full of insight and humor," Vivian Hood, an executive vice president at Jaffe PR, said in a written release. "He was an industry trailblazer who helped shape the way that law firms today communicate and manage their public reputations."
Richard Levick, president and CEO of Levick Strategic Communications, said that he was saddened to hear of Jaffe's death. Levick said first met Jaffe in the early 1990's. The two collaborated on an advertising campaign called "The Human Side of Genius" for the now-defunct law firm Howrey.
"If you look at law firm advertising, he really introduced it to the profession," Levick said. "Jay's brilliance was seeing the opportunity of the market and he recognized early on what was most important for law firms to do at the time. He took people who tend to be extremely slow in adapting and got them to see the importance of change."
Levick said that Jaffe was able to think like law firm clients and use that perspective for the benefit of firms. "Marketing means being first and being different," he said.