CARY, NC — The fear of data breaches or similar crisis can keep corporate counsel awake at night. But even if an incident takes place, companies can move past it, provided they have the right preventative measures and contingency plans in place.

A Womble Bond Dickinson team joined members of the Association of Corporate Counsel’s Research Triangle Area Chapter for a Jan. 15 presentation on “Getting It Right When It All Goes Wrong: Successful Compliance Programs and Crisis Management”.  Highlights of the luncheon discussion included:

  • Compliance policies and crisis management plans every company should have in place, especially when confronted with cyberattacks, data breaches, whistleblower claims, catastrophic events, potentially compromising government investigations, and similar unexpected events. For example, companies should assemble a go-to crisis management task force consisting of IT experts, outside counsel, PR professionals, insurance representatives and specialized subject matter team members. In addition, companies should hold crisis drills—practice makes a difference.
  • Practical tips on how in-house counsel can guide their management teams through an internal investigation, regulator inquiries, or reputational crisis. Remember: you can’t hide information and the truth will always come out. Be solution-oriented, understanding that you may have to act on limited, imperfect information in a crisis.
  • The overlap of investigations and public relations. Key issues to consider in advance include the scope of the investigation, whether to provide independent counsel for certain employees, how the investigation will be documented, and whether and to what extent the investigation will be privileged.
  • Minimizing chaos during an employee crisis. Proactive compliance steps, including background checks, employee training, IT/security, succession planning, up-to-date codes of conduct, and exit interviews can help prevent and minimize employee-centered problems.
  • Lessons learned in crisis management. A crisis represents business and customer relations challenges, not just legal problems. Companies need to take a thoughtful approach to apologizing, controlling damage and repairing trust.

Womble Bond Dickinson attorneys Tara Cho, Jay Silver, Theresa Sprain and Sara Tucker were among the presenters at the event. Other speakers included IQVIA Head Regulatory Counsel Kristen Henderson, ABB Power Grids Senior Counsel – Global Litigation Lenor Marquis Segal, Lenovo General Counsel – North America John Stanley, and GBW Strategies Principal Billy Warden.

The “Getting It Right When It All Goes Wrong: Successful Compliance Programs and Crisis Management” event took place at the Umstead Hotel in Cary.

Tara Cho

ACC panel