J.K. Rowling vs. Russells Solicitors, On Confidentiality

Back in July it was leaked to the Sunday Post a UK based newspaper that new crime novel, “The Cuckoo’s Calling,” by Robert Galbraith was in fact written by billionaire author J.K. Rowling of Harry Potter fame. After the leak, sales skyrocketed from only 1500 copies to hundreds of thousands, leaving shelves of bookstores empty. To this day, it remains on Amazon’s Top 100 Best Sellers list.

As sales sky rocketed, many began to question the authenticity of the leak, calling the leak a PR stunt, a means to drive sales which it did indeed do. As time passed on though, the leak was uncovered with negative results for those involved and a reminder that loose lips do sink ships.

The leak turned out to be Rowling’s law firm Russells Solicitors, partner Chris Gossage. Gossage in passing had told his wife and her “best friend” Judith Callegari the true identity of Galbraith. Later Callegari took to Twitter and notified a journalist at the Sunday Post of Galbraith’s true identity, citing she knew someone at the publisher.

Since then, Rowling has taken legal action, taking both Gossage and Callegari to court for damages, and won her case, both putting that fact that his was a PR stunt to rest,  and demonstrating the importance of confidentiality. The law firm has since reimbursed all legal fees paid by Rowling and has made a donation for an undisclosed amount to the “Soldier’s Charity” of which Rowling had pledged the royalties for the first three years of sales.

Although the issue has since lost some of the media limelight, it serves as a reminder to a profession built on trust. Confidentiality, grants clients and lawyers the protection they need to do business, but it also shows that even the most innocuous details shared with the wrong person can create a very embarrassing situation for both you and your respective firm.

For a full article detailing these developments see The Telegraph.

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