Global Risk + Crisis Management

In today’s interconnected world, a crisis can take many forms: a congressional or legislative inquiry; data breach; theft of a trade secret; public corruption; multijurisdictional prosecutorial or enforcement action; product-related injury; whistleblower allegation; investigative journalism; or allegation of workplace misconduct. But regardless of the source, the necessary features of crisis responses are the need to quickly take command of the facts, and anticipate the need to defend your organization across multiple government, media, and litigation forums. Our Global Risk + Crisis Management Group’s approach cuts across traditional practice areas, pulling together a tailored multidisciplinary team to respond to any crisis. We have helped clients navigate crises ranging from the Russian SolarWinds hack, to national security and antitrust reviews of the Sprint/T-Mobile merger, to sexual misconduct by New York City councilmembers, to Odebrecht S.A.’s landmark Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) settlement, to the recall of Fitbit’s Force activity tracker.

We recognize that when crisis strikes, time is of the essence. A company must answer to external actors—regulators, law enforcement, customers, media, and legislatures—while managing internal and other external stakeholders and demands. The first step in addressing these overlapping concerns is assembling a team to implement an organized decision-making process, master the facts, understand reputational and risk concerns, and develop a tailored response strategy. We know how to build and quarterback a response team, while working alongside crisis communications firms, outside experts, and your in-house media, legal, and government relations teams.

We have decades of experience across disciplines, industries, and government agencies, successfully guiding clients through crises of the highest levels. Our team includes former federal and state prosecutors and regulators, internationally recognized cybersecurity authorities, former congressional staffers, seasoned white-collar defense lawyers, product safety specialists, and former senior officials across a wide spectrum of U.S. government and state agencies, including the Department of Justice (DOJ), Department of the Treasury, Department of Defense, Department of State, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), Department of Transportation, Federal Aviation Administration, Food and Drug Administration, the National Security Council, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, and state attorneys general (“state AGs”) offices. Our collaborative firm structure makes it easy for us to build client teams across disciplines, drawing on our Investigations and White-Collar Defense, Securities, Privacy and Data Security, Antitrust, Product Liability, and Appellate practices.

An important aspect of crisis response is prioritization. We respond immediately and act strategically to develop communications, investigative, litigation, and regulatory plans that ensure your business will continue to thrive and minimize risk. That includes working with you to identify what items are urgent and need to be addressed now, and what can wait. Having handled crises from all sides—as regulators, prosecutors, in-house counsel, and outside counsel—our attorneys know what to expect, who are the key players, how to respond, and the importance of ensuring consistency across all communications. 

We view crisis management as more than the challenge in front of you—it is also about anticipating issues around the corner. We actively consider the full spectrum of potential risk and work to ensure that decisions today do not negatively impact those of tomorrow. A core part of our interdisciplinary approach involves consulting with our litigators and investigative teams to ensure that the short-term crisis response will account for the potential litigation or government interest that may ensue.  

Crisis prevention is another pillar of our practice, and our team is unmatched in its ability to help organizations develop a comprehensive plan, from assessing potential risks through the testing and execution of a strategy that protects continued operations, to preparing crisis response plans, and testing those plans through comprehensive and customized tabletop exercises.

Our experience and philosophy is reflected in the breadth and depth of our crisis management work across industries and practice areas:

Cyber Incident Response. From serving as breach counsel to FireEye for its response to the unprecedented SolarWinds supply-chain compromise, to counseling Target on its investigation of an historic data breach, to representing Yahoo before federal regulators and prosecutors related to its data breach, MoFo has been at the forefront of advising clients on the most consequential data security incidents for more than a decade. For incidents ranging from ransomware attacks to state-sponsored economic espionage, we have advised clients on multidimensional responses involving consumer and regulator notices, class action litigation, congressional inquiries, and regulatory and criminal investigations from the DOJ, DHS, FTC, state AGs, SEC, HHS, and countless other U.S. and international regulators.

Product and Environmental Safety. When faced with product recalls, product defect allegations, industrial accidents, environmental releases, or other unexpected health and safety events, our clients look to us to develop comprehensive, cross-disciplinary responses that prioritize health and safety while protecting their brand. We counseled Fitbit in connection with its widely publicized recall of its Force activity tracker and served as national coordinating counsel to Fitbit in five class action lawsuits and more than 30 personal injury lawsuits arising from the recalled product. We also represented Lumber Liquidators, the nation’s largest specialty retailer of hardwood flooring, in more than 130 class action cases in 28 states, a U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission investigation, a California Air Resources Board enforcement action, and several state attorney general investigations arising from a 60 Minutes report alleging that the Lumber Liquidators’ laminate flooring exposed consumers to excessive amounts of formaldehyde. We have also counseled clients on emergency management and government investigations arising from accidental releases of hazardous materials.

Congressional Investigations. We counsel companies and individuals on responding to congressional investigations regarding issues of acute public interest. Among other recent matters, we counseled a former member of the Special Counsel’s Office in connection with congressional testimony, presented evidence in local legislative hearings, and counseled Fortune 500 companies in connection with congressional and state and local government inquiries. Our team includes former chief counsels and senior investigative staff from both the Senate and House, including the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee (the chief oversight committee of the Senate) and the House Energy & Commerce Committee, as well as former state officials who have led nationwide investigations that generated front-page headlines. We bring an insider’s perspective to working with House and Senate investigative lawyers, handling subpoenas and document requests, and preparing witnesses for high-profile legislative and other government hearings.

Public Corruption and Workplace Misconduct. We have assembled a Workplace Misconduct Investigations Task Force to assist companies in navigating the complex challenges presented by allegations of workplace misconduct. We have represented elected and appointed public officials, public entities, and individuals doing business with the government in a variety of public corruption related matters, including serving as special counsel to the New York City Council in connection with investigations of certain councilmembers. We have also conducted internal investigations related to allegations of discriminatory and other workplace misconduct. With our significant collective experience conducting sensitive investigations and in-depth knowledge of applicable employment laws, our team is uniquely positioned to help our clients.

National Security Inquiries. International trade raises compliance issues for U.S. companies that export, import, seek foreign investment, or have global business interests. The increased focus on supply chain risks, economic espionage, and non-proliferation requires companies to be vigilant about sanctions and export control laws. Our national security lawyers have counseled countless clients on the national security implications of proposed transactions to ensure that any risks are identified and addressed with the relevant government agencies and helped clients preempt and address any political and public relations issues. We work with our clients to undertake a thorough review that can include an internal investigation and the development of new safeguards to prevent any future violations.

Stimulus Fraud Investigations. The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act created two federal financial stimulus programs: the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) and the Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) Program. The government has made the investigation and prosecution of CARES Act violations and fraud a high priority. Having investigated and prosecuted such actions on behalf of the government, our team of experienced former federal prosecutors and government officials is uniquely qualified to guide clients in their response to inquiries from the Small Business Administration and DOJ related to alleged CARES Act violations.

Issues and Controversies. Lawyers in our market-leading Appellate and Supreme Court practice partner with our subject-matter specialists to help devise winning legal strategies in federal and state courts, and they also have represented clients before the U.S. Supreme Court. Led by two veterans of the U.S. Solicitor General’s office who have collectively argued more than 25 Supreme Court cases, our cadre of Appellate practitioners clerked for multiple Supreme Court justices and bring their sharp legal acumen to our clients’ toughest problems. Most recently, our Appellate lawyers have teamed with our Restructuring lawyers to craft constitutional arguments for clients related to Puerto Rico’s bankruptcy; prevailed in the Supreme Court on cutting-edge issues of first-impression about significant biologics legislation after convincing multiple federal agencies to support our client’s position; and crafted statutory and constitutional arguments to address municipal hazard-pay ordinances that were a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

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