The fundamental mission of the Crisis Management Group at Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP is to take the lead in responding to “bet-the-company” or other major legal crises for our clients. Unexpected crisis events — a catastrophic facilities explosion, a publicly announced criminal indictment, the discovery of financial statement errors, reports of product defects, a corporate governance or compliance failure, just to name a few — can quickly destabilize a company. Instantaneous and sustained response is crucial, especially when media scrutiny is immediate and intense.
Legal advisors who have an established track record of success are critical to managing a corporate crisis. What does not get done, or done well, at the beginning can have real long-term adverse consequences. In this arena, there is no time for on-the-job training, for guess work, for missed priorities. Skadden has a long history of successfully representing its clients in crisis situations, and we have repeatedly demonstrated the ability to respond quickly and effectively. We immediately assemble a closely coordinated, multidisciplined, highly experienced team. Together with our clients, we develop and execute targeted strategies for responding to governmental agencies, shareholders, the investment community and the media.
Our strength in corporate crisis management is predicated on some very specific characteristics of the firm, including:
- Immediate and ongoing availability of seasoned leadership
- Key practice areas involved in many corporate crisis situations
- Over 50 practice areas
- Understanding disclosure and communications
- Integrated team approach
- Resources — and commitment
Immediate and ongoing availability of seasoned leadership. Effective crisis management requires seasoned leadership from the outset and throughout. A group of our partners, particularly from those practice areas noted below, have had extensive experience in managing corporate crises. One or more of these partners, as the specific situation requires, will lead the Skadden team and provide highly responsive strategic and tactical guidance and judgment which is likely to be critical to the crisis management effort.
Key practice areas involved in many corporate crisis situations. While every corporate crisis is unique, they share a great deal of commonality. Corporate governance and director responsibility issues become sharply focused in almost every case. And inquiries and claims from Congress, federal and state governmental agencies, and private parties frequently follow very quickly after the crisis-inducing event. As a result, certain of our practice areas have often been quite important to crisis management response efforts, even though the triggering circumstance did not arise in those areas. In particular, our extensive experience in the areas of corporate governance, white collar defense, SEC and other government agency enforcement defense, legislative proceedings and investigations, securities litigation defense, and insurance coverage (including director/officer issues and business claims) are often called upon in dealing with — and in many cases are central to managing — a corporate crisis.
Over 50 practice areas. The ability to respond to a crisis often requires ready knowledge of both the relevant industry and the legal issues related to the crisis. Our breadth of practice has contributed significantly to our ability to mobilize immediately crisis management response teams in widely disparate situations. Skadden has over 50 well-established practices, in such diverse areas as securities law and securities litigation defense; white collar criminal defense; SEC enforcement defense; tax planning and tax disputes; regulated industries (e.g., securities, investment management, banking, utilities, energy and communications); mass torts, insurance and consumer litigation; products liability; restructuring and bankruptcy; mergers and acquisitions; antitrust; intellectual property, including patent litigation; and legislative and public policy. Each of these practices has been crucial to the firm’s successful resolution of numerous crisis management situations, including where the primary crisis event has centered on allegations involving securities fraud, tax fraud, a Foreign Corrupt Practices Act violation, a threatened loss of a regulatory license, product defects and related potential liability, a sudden distressed financial condition raising bankruptcy issues, a private or government antitrust lawsuit, an infringement claim against use of a key patent, or a threatened legislative action affecting a company’s ability to do business.
Understanding disclosure and communications. By their nature, corporate crises raise crucial and urgent disclosure and communications issues. Understanding the need to communicate effectively the key messages, and the proper means for doing so, can be the linchpin of success or failure in maintaining stability and minimizing the damage that can flow from corporate crises. At Skadden, we are highly attuned to this need and we actively provide guidance and assistance in this critical area, including direct communication with key constituencies.
Integrated team approach. Crisis management needs more than strong leadership — it is a real-time exercise requiring close coordination and communication within the core team. As a firm, much of what we do involves multidisciplinary, multioffice interaction. This approach is truly “second nature” to the way we provide service to clients, and is a key contributing factor to effective crisis management representation.
Resources — and commitment. Successfully managing a crisis is not only about the quick and effective response on day one. While the company’s immediate response and its actions during the days and weeks that follow are often most helpful — or harmful, managing the crisis almost always is a longer term and more extensive effort. Since multiple concurrent challenges often arise from a crisis, there is a continuing need to be aware of and cross-check decisions on all fronts to be sure that a global strategy is being followed, rather than being undermined by isolated actions in one arena. We have the resources and demonstrated commitment — including a critical emphasis on team integration and communication — to stay the course.