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Crisis Prep 101 for Attorneys

From Sterling Miller:

As in-house counsel, you can sum up your priorities in two categories: “Maximize Value Creation” (e.g., M&A) and “Minimize Value Destruction” (e.g., defending “bet the company” litigation). Pretty much all legal work you or the department do will fall under the above. A “crisis” situation falls under potential value destruction and can come in many forms, including major litigation, data breach, government investigation or criminal indictment, environmental catastrophe, social media “meltdown,” product recalls, death of the CEO, campus intrusion, FCPA claims, just to name a few. How you and the company respond to a crisis will go a long way in preventing or limiting damage to the company, including its reputation and brand. In-house counsel should play a key role in the strategy and plans to manage these risks should they arise. Ask yourself this question: “If [pick a crisis] happened today, do I know the exact steps the company and I would take in the next 24 hours?” If the answer is “no,” then it’s time to get cracking.

This edition of “Ten Things” will set out some basics for in-house counsel to manage a crisis situation both before there is one and if one occurs. It is impossible to set out everything you should know or do in a column like this, but you will get the building blocks to put plans in place and do further research yourself. This is also an opportunity to show thought leadership, vision, and strategic thinking to your Board of Directors and your CEO (and other executive team members) in terms of ensuring your company is taking the right steps to be ready for a crisis situation.

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