“I was wrongly convicted of murder. I spent nearly 17 years in prison fighting my case. When I finally won a new trial, I chose Greg Robey to be a part of my defense team. He found an FBI agent who had worked on the case in the 1980s, along with critical pieces of evidence that we thought were long lost. After a long and very hard-fought trial, I was found Not Guilty of all charges. I owe my freedom to Greg Robey and my defense team.” -R.R., Ravenna, Ohio
Three attorneys were acquitted recently of charges of federal racketeering, conspiracy and fraud. The acquittal came after a three-year battle since their arrest in 2011 for allegedly aiding several business associates in looting a Texas-based mortgage company of nearly $12 million. Prosecutors argued that the attorneys helped set up shell organizations and falsified consulting contracts that allowed them to defraud shareholders.
Although the attorneys were able to successfully defend against the charges, the case took a huge financial and professional toll on them. After decades spent building their reputations in the legal field, the case caused them to lose clients and sullied their names among their colleagues. Having placed their careers on hold while they defended the lawsuit, each of them was faced with the task of restoring their reputations and rebuilding their practices.
For professionals like these lawyers, one’s reputation is extremely important. While you cannot predict what professional challenges you might face, there are certain steps you can take to protect your professional character.
First, build relationships among your peers and clients. These connections are the backbones of any professional’s reputation. A solid network of people who trust you goes a long way to building your name in business — and these are the people who will stay in your corner if your reputation takes a hit.
Once you have made these connections, you must maintain them. Many professionals think that if they simply make contact, the work is done. However, like any relationship, professional connections must be nurtured. The more solidly you can build relationships among your peers, the better your name and reputation will hold up under scrutiny.
Finally, if you do face a professional road bump like the attorneys in the RICO case, be proactive in rebuilding your name. A tarnished reputation can be restored, but a professional must be diligent in rebuilding each connection, being honest about what has or has not transpired and committing to the long road of reestablishing the trust that has been lost.
If your reputation has been damaged in a way that may constitute slander or libel, you should consider working with a Cleveland white collar crime defense attorney to explore your options.