Global Crisis Management Series

Effectively dealing with a crisis often requires disclosure to government authorities, shareholders, and other stakeholders, even when many facts remain unknown.  Companies must toe a delicate line when assessing when, to whom, and how much to disclose, especially in the absence of complete information. 
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Depending on the matter, data collection and management can be among the most daunting and logistically difficult tasks. Ensuring that the full relevant universe of data is being preserved and considered and that accurate recordkeeping is being performed is essential to managing large volumes of information and, in turn, facilitating fact-finding goals and risk assessment.
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The beginning stages of an investigation are often the most critical.  At the outset of any investigation, information is often limited and events are unfolding quickly.  As a result, it is important to develop a clear and adaptable plan that is appropriately scoped, identifies the right team and sets forth the steps that will be taken as part of the investigation.  Having a written plan in place is crucial to making sure that all relevant stakeholders are on the same page about what activities the investigation will include.  It also ensures that the investigation is managed effectively and is guided by a clear set of objectives. 
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Choices made at the outset of a crisis can play a critical role in a company’s ability to maintain future privilege claims. Recent cases highlight the risks of:

1. Sharing privileged communications with third-party consultants;
2. Conducting witness interviews through non-lawyers; and
3. Discussing the crisis with a former employee.
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A company faced with a crisis needs to act quickly to assess and determine the scope of any potential liability in order to guide its first response and frame the forthcoming investigation.  Issues overlooked in the early phases of an investigation could prove very costly down the road, limiting options or potentially subjecting a company to greater penalties.
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