April 18, 2006

Jenner & Block Partner Charles B. Sklarsky used a series of hypothetical situations at today’s InsideCounsel SuperConference to illustrate best practices for in-house counsel to follow when conducting an internal investigation so as to protect the interests of the company.

The panel of senior in-house counsel discussing "Best Practices in Internal Investigations" were Katherine M. Choo, Senior Counsel, Litigation & Legal Policy, General Electric Company, Randall E. Mehrberg, Executive Vice President, Chief Administration Officer & Chief Legal Officer, Exelon Corporation, and Lawrence Oliver, II, Chief Counsel Internal Investigations, The Boeing Company.

According to Mr. Mehrberg, a prudent overriding policy for general counsel is to “err on the side of investigation,” because if misconduct exists, it is best to “know the facts” of the situation and take positive steps to address it as quickly as possible.

Mr. Sklarsky, Co-Chair of the Firm’s White Collar Criminal Defense and Counseling Practice, added that even if the problematic actions identified do not “rise to the level of criminal misconduct,” an investigation may be an important first step to minimizing any potential public embarrassment for the company.

The panelists also added, however, that there is no “one size fits all” system for conducting an investigation.  For instance, the panelists disagreed as to whom the outside counsel investigator should report to within the company.  Requiring outside counsel to report to the company’s audit committee may provide a better “appearance of credibility” the panelists agreed, but it may also prevent the company’s general counsel from attaining information needed to represent it most effectively in the future.