Sunday, October 14, 2012

Legal Crisis Management

Two years ago, I blogged about the need for greater scholarly attention to mass tort crisis management.  Since then, crisis-management practice groups at law firms have continued to burgeon.  Here's a sampling of crisis-management groups at large law firms: Baker Hostetler, Bingham, Cooley, Covington & Burling, Freshfields, Gibson Dunn, McCarter & English, McDermott Will & Emery, Patton Boggs, Pillsbury Winthrop, Skadden, and Steptoe & Johnson.

For media coverage of recent growth in crisis-management groups, see the following: 

(1) Ashby Jones, On Covington and the 'Crisis Management' BoomletWall Street Journal Law Blog (Jan. 6, 2011, 1:37 p.m.);

(2) Leigh Kamping-Carder, Savvy Firms Seek Business Through Crisis Management, Law360 (Feb. 19, 2010, 7:12 p.m.) (online registration required for article); and

(3) David Lat, A Look at Orrick's Crisis Management Practice, Above the Law (Oct. 8, 2009, 11:06 a.m.). 

While business schools have offered courses on crisis management and leadership, public-policy schools have offered courses on governmental crisis management, and communications schools have offered courses on crisis communications, law schools appear not to have provided curricular attention to legal crisis management. (The University of Texas School of Law has a course on crisis management, but it appears to track public-policy courses focusing on the government's role in a crisis.)  What might a law-school course on legal crisis management look like, focusing on the role of lawyers in preventing, managing, and resolving crises?  Here's a draft description I put together for such a course that I've been considering more fully developing:

Legal Crisis Management and the Media
Although crisis management has long been an important skill for lawyers, formal crisis management practices today proliferate among global law firms seeking to aid clients facing complex crises that span various countries, practice areas, and advocacy settings such as judicial, legislative, regulatory, or media inquiries.  This course will examine and integrate insights on legal crisis management from multiple disciplines, including not only law, but also management, leadership, communications, and public relations.  Within law, the course will draw upon ethics, counseling, negotiation, and alternative dispute resolution, and address lawyers' and clients' interaction with the media during a crisis, including global perspectives on the legal limits of media coverage.  In addition to developing conceptual approaches, the course will discuss case studies of legal crisis management implicating the law, culture, and media of multiple countries and areas, and consider lawyers' actual and potential contributions to successful resolution of the crises.   
BGS

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