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In the post-Sarbanes-Oxley, Dodd-Frank world, internal investigations are a reality for all companies and other institutions. While high profile and significant internal investigations have occurred in the context of major public company scandals, they may also be appropriate in many other situations. Allegations of ethical lapses, whistleblower complaints, governmental inquiries, negative media stories, and abuses in an industry or by competitors can be reasons to conduct an internal investigation. Failure to do so can have severe negative repercussions for a company’s board and senior management. 

 

The growth in internal investigations has been fueled in part by statements by the Department of Justice, the Securities and Exchange Commission, and other law enforcement agencies that credit may be given to organizations that conduct internal investigations. Internal investigations can also reduce or control any negative reputational and media damage that follow disclosure of problems.  In addition, failure to conduct an internal investigation when there is a credible indication of wrongdoing or other precipitating event could give rise to claims that the board breached its fiduciary duties. 

 

While an internal investigation can provide great benefits to a company, it can cause serious harm if not conducted properly. K&L Gates has successfully conducted scores of internal investigations for public and private companies, nonprofit institutions, governmental entities, and other organizations. The lawyers at K&L Gates who conduct internal investigations have noteworthy credentials:  They include a former United States attorney general, a former president of the American Bar Association, and former senior officials at the Department of Justice and the Securities and Exchange Commission. K&L Gates’ significant experience and overall reputation in conducting internal investigations can help make the investigations highly effective, cost efficient, and with minimal disruptions to an organization. 

 

While every internal investigation will have unique circumstances, dimensions, challenges, and outcomes, they must be accurate, timely, credible, thorough and fair. K&L Gates lawyers know how to achieve these objectives. In addition, our experience in conducting internal investigations gives our team a unique perspective to answer some of the difficult questions that arise in this context, including when to conduct an internal investigation, who should conduct it, to who should control it, how to maintain applicable privileges, how to interact with any parallel government investigation, and whether it needs to be publicly disclosed.

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