Jay M. Jaffe, 68, of Eagle, Colo., who has been touted as “the inventor of law firm marketing,” passed away 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.