In Remembrance: Jay M. Jaffe

Dear LMA friends and family,

I’m writing this the night after Thanksgiving, but many of you will have heard the news by the time you see this.  My friend and mentor, Jay M. Jaffe, truly one of the pioneers of legal marketing, died Wednesday night after a surgery that he and everyone else around him had expected would go smoothly.  It is quite a shock, and a devastating loss to our community.

Jay was an innovator, a font of Big Ideas, a fierce advocate for the people who worked for him and a fierce competitor to those who didn’t.  He stepped forward strongly to support the idea of Law Firm Media Professionals and talked to me about expanding into other cities, which of course then happened, seemingly of its own accord.  He was also one of our first speakers on social media a few years ago, and went ahead to make that a mainstay of his business in recent years.  

Many of the strides that came in law firm marketing over the last four decades had the Jaffe touch.  My favorite was his vaunted idea for the late Howrey & Simon, when he “turned” the firm into a litigation powerhouse in the public mind with the phrase, “In Court Every Day,” in beautiful ads that showed off various historically important courthouses—Appomattox, Little Rock, etc.  It was a celebrated “story-telling” ad, and had permanent influence.

Personally, Jay was larger than life.  He brought new recruits into the fold with one big shot of confidence and many of wisdom.  Many of you have heard the story of his sage advice to me, shortly after I joined Jaffe in 1995.  He arrived at a lunch meeting with a stranger in tow, who turned out to be a suit salesman, and insisted that I do business with the fellow.  When I quizzically wondered aloud what might be the real purpose of this unplanned rendezvous, he uttered the immortal line that has guided me and others ever since— “Josh, the partners probably already think you’re an idiot because you don’t have a law degree; the least you can do is dress better than they do.”  It became a running joke and Jay loved it when I referred to it with friends or, even better, in speeches.

As famous as he became, it was refreshing how often he described his modest roots—“my father sold tchotchkes,” he would joke, proudly.  And he would often continue to talk about the basic ideas of salesmanship or marketing that high-fallutin theories of sales always seemed to miss for a plainer, simpler truth.

Jay and I were in touch infrequently after I left his outfit, but the conversations, on the phone or in person, were always warm and fun.  And a few months ago, I sprouted the idea that we should celebrate his many years of powerful influence on the profession with an informal get-together of everyone who had ever worked for him, and—to extend the reach—everyone who had ever worked for THEM.  That would have taken in many—maybe most—of the best-known names in our profession.  At first Jay resisted the idea of making it an all-inclusive event, as he had not maintained ties with all of his former employees.  But I countered with the point that if we invited everyone, regardless of standing in his esteem, it could and would amount to a virtual who’s who of law firm marketers.  He acceded to the plan, and even suggested the date—around Thanksgiving of next year, which would also have made it a 70th birthday party.  It would have been quite an event.

I could tell stories for days, but I’ll leave off with an invitation to have a look at some of his cleverer ideas over the years, which I would imagine will surface on the Jaffe website.  I wish more of you could have had the benefit of the personal aura and charisma of this extraordinary man.  I’ll miss you, Jay.  May your daughter, Sara, be comforted among the mourners of Zion.


Joshua Peck
Senior Media Relations Manager, Duane Morris LLP


Jay M. Jaffe Obituary
Jay M. Jaffe, 68, of Eagle, Colo., who has been touted as “the inventor of law firm marketing,” died on November 21, 2012, in Denver, Colo., from complications following surgery.
In the 1970s, Jaffe was a pioneer when few corporate law firms did marketing, advertising and public relations. Until then, law firms were prohibited by law and practice from using most marketing practices. In 1977, the Supreme Court’s decision in Bates v. State Bar of Arizona allowed law firms to proactively market their services for the first time.
Jaffe founded Jaffe Associates, now known as Jaffe PR, to be a PR agency devoted exclusively to the needs of business law firms. Originally based in Washington, D.C., and now a virtual business with staff around the country, the agency has guided lawyers in changing the conservative, traditional ways they communicate with clients and the market. His clients included many of the largest, leading firms, as well as smaller boutique firms and legal associations. The demand for legal marketing services produced unparalleled growth at Jaffe PR and Inc. magazine named Jaffe PR to its list of the “500 Fastest-Growing Private Companies in the United States.”
Jaffe was very proud of the fact that the editor of The American Lawyer once introduced him to a New York audience as “the man who invented law firm marketing ...” He would quickly deny the compliment, but those who know him say that, even if he wasn’t the inventor, he certainly has been one of the most influential forces in the fledgling profession, pushing the creative and technology envelope every day and every step of the way.
Jaffe delighted in staying ahead of cutting-edge technology and its effective use in his agency and with clients. He established Jaffe Associates as a virtual consultancy, with professionals based throughout North America who collaborate via email, iChat, Skype, FaceTime and many other forms of Internet communications. He was an early adopter of LinkedIn, and Small Business Computing magazine once named Jaffe PR one of the “100 Most Tech-Savvy Small Businesses in America.” He advocated his enthusiasm as a member of the Board of Editors of the ALM’s Internet Law & Strategy newsletter. 
Jaffe was honored to have been inducted into the PR News “PR People Hall of Fame” in 2010 at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C., and he was named to the “100 Legal Consultants You Need to Know” list by Lawdragon.
Jaffe was born and spent his childhood in Chicago. He served in the U.S. Army and, while stationed at a medical facility in Japan, he oversaw operation of the hospital’s newspaper, interviewing and comforting soldiers returning from Vietnam.
Following discharge from the military, he began his professional career in journalism for a local newspaper in Augusta, Ga., and then for the CBS TV affiliate as news anchor and reporter. It was a career for which he was destined, having started early as editor of his fifth-grade newspaper.
In the mid-70s, Jaffe joined the staff of Georgia Congressman Jack Flynt as press secretary in Washington, D.C., and soon after was appointed to the same position at the Congressional Committee on Standards of Official Conduct of the U.S. House of Representatives, of which Flynt was chair. He lived in Washington, D.C., until 2005, when he moved to Colorado, where he continued to lead Jaffe PR. He was an avid fly fisherman, golfer and skier.
Jaffe is survived by his daughter, Sara, who recently relocated to Chicago from Kensington, Md. She is pleased to be living a block away from where her dad grew up, in “Wrigleyville,” a few blocks from his beloved Chicago Cubs. Jaffe is also survived by his sister Judi Orenstein; brother-in-law Lou Orenstein of Boynton Beach, Fla.; niece Joyce Fox, her husband Mike Fox and their children, of Highland Park, Ill.; and nephew Michael Altshuler of Chicago … and his best friend – a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel named Wilson, of Eagle, Colo.
Contributions may be made to Joining Forces at and to the USO at

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