Knowing your role in a corporate crisis

GCs will inevitably find themselves at the eye of the storm

Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman Partner Tom Campbell says general counsel whose companies are facing crises will inevitably find themselves at the eye of the storm.

“The general counsel are the hub of the crisis management,” he says. “This is different, though, from being the hub of the emergency response. There are two groups: One that runs toward the fire, and one that runs back to the boardroom. The group that runs back to the boardroom is the crisis-management team.”

Campbell says he has seen too many GCs fall into a false sense of security that they’ve done their job just by having an emergency-response team in place. He says GCs still must manage the crisis—particularly the information aspects of it.

“The general counsel is at the vortex of the response, and he ultimately is the one person who has control over all of the information,” Campbell says. “In these crisis management situations, information is absolutely king. The GC must lead the investigation to get a hold of the facts. He then assembles them into a true narrative of what happened and how the company is going to deal with it. He has audiences that he’s going to have to provide those facts to—including the board of directors, the Hill, the newspapers, the litigation effort and the insurance recovery effort. That all has to fit together, and he’s the one that has to bring it all together.”

Ashley Post

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