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Crisis? What crisis? (Part 2: Crisis management and law)

Why third-party consultant to manage crisis

It is not rocket science that a crisis is better managed by an independent party.

We will highlight two practical examples here against the backdrop of the illustration in Part 1 (click here for Part 1) which a public company listed on the stock exchange with fast moving consumer goods (FMCG) having their star product contaminated.

First, the company’s Chief Operating Officer might be in an embarrassing position to deny certain questions of which the main issue of the crisis is clearly within her purview.

Second, the Head of Quality Control might be anxious to act what he thinks is the best under the circumstances since his decision might attract criticisms from the higher management which could cost his job.

Leaving it to the professional could avoid all the above on top of all the emotional attachment. The professional who has been there and done will not just manage the crisis but will provide other value in the process. We will discuss legally trained persons or lawyers who have been involved in crisis management here.

Problem-solving and lawyer

One of the most basic and important attributes in crisis management is problem-solving. Problem-solving is a natural quality of a lawyer. It is a lawyer’s daily task to deal with their client's problems. Lawyers are trained to manage and ultimately resolve problems independently and professionally.

Lawyers are also good with facts, both identifying and utilising them. In the peak of the crisis, “facts are friends”. As such the need to pick up salient facts in the mess is imperative. Subsequent to that, how the facts are to be maneuvered and what or how or when to reveal those facts will determine how well a crisis is managed.

Being a lawyer or legally trained does not automatically make one the best option to manage the crisis. The one who is suitable to be part of the crisis management team must have experience in managing high-intensity disputes and aptitude in dealing with conflicts as it is real-time problem solving as opposed to mere problem-solving.

Besides, preparedness is key in crisis management. A lawyer who has experience in the scenario and contingency planning will be able to create a road map to decide on the alternative strategies and risk mitigation for the sudden change of situation.

As mentioned, a professional in crisis management will provide other value in the process. A lawyer who practices pre-dispute evaluation in creating the road map for scenario and contingency planning would have taken into calculation the possible legal consequences. The steps to be taken in the road map should prevent or at least mitigate liabilities.

“Begin with the end in mind” – Franklin Covey.

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