July 07, 2021

Conducts Independent Reviews to Help Clients Address Underlying Cultural and Compliance Risks

London and New York, July 7, 2021 – Jenner & Block has launched a Culture Risk and Sensitive Investigations Practice, focused on helping organizations and their stewards to understand and assess cultural and compliance issues, including challenging issues like gender or racial biases. Co-chaired by Partners Christine Braamskamp and Anne Cortina Perry, the group conducts independent reviews to help clients mitigate reputational risk and avoid corporate crises.

“Our lawyers have extensive experience leading sensitive investigations and are trusted by organizations and individuals around the globe to handle these complex and highly confidential matters with thoroughness and sensitivity,” said Katya Jestin and Randy Mehrberg, co-managing partners of Jenner & Block. “Companies are subject to increasingly intense scrutiny from shareholders, regulators, employees, and the general public regarding the culture they foster. Our team – led by Chris and Anne – are experts in assessing and addressing these culture risks, with a view toward mitigating or preventing the challenges that can ensue.”

Jenner & Block has been counseling clients on these issues even before the #MeToo movement focused a spotlight on cultural risk issues. Experience in culture risk investigations ranges from workplace harassment or misconduct to investigating compliance culture more generally, to understanding root causes of workplace safety incidents in manufacturing. Leveraging the credibility and deep bench of the firm’s Investigations, Compliance, and Defense Practice, our Culture Risk and Sensitive Investigations lawyers help clients understand the root causes of issues within the organization and advise on best practices to address them.

“Organizations have become increasingly aware of the need to consider and address concerns raised regarding a problematic workplace culture. Incidents of workplace misconduct or harassment can also be symptoms of deeper problems in which policy violations or more subtle forms of inequity or bias are tolerated and un-reported,” said Ms. Perry. “Toxicity in a workplace culture breeds risk –not only to an organization’s reputation among its employees, customers, and other stakeholders – but also that other concerns related to compliance, ethics, and safety will not be timely or effectively addressed, thus setting the stage for significant additional, serious legal risk. It is our goal to help companies and their leaders ensure their corporate cultures are not only ‘compliant’ but healthy, inclusive, and productive.”

“These deep-rooted culture issues are often not easily visible to C-suite and Boards of Directors, and can affect organizations around the globe,” added Ms. Braamskamp. “Our approach to investigating sensitive, nuanced situations is to figure out what’s really going on in an organization, rather than narrowly assessing whether there is a legal claim or not and calling it a day. It is important to get at the heart of the matter to truly address these risks, so that our clients may move forward and are able to address the real issues, not just the legal risk.”

Over the past several years, Jenner & Block has conducted numerous sensitive investigations for corporations, and other organizations, including an investigation into potential sexual misconduct on behalf of special committees of the boards of religious and charitable organizations; investigations into allegations of sexually and racially hostile and discriminatory behavior by executives at various companies; and an investigation into fatal accidents pursuant to lax leadership and safety controls.

In addition to Ms. Braamskamp and Ms. Perry, the Culture Risk and Sensitive Investigations Practice comprises a diverse team of lawyers who bring a unique set of capabilities to help companies assess their workplace culture and live up to their values. The practice includes Partners Anthony S. Barkow, Neil M. Barofsky, Lori B. Day, Katya Jestin, and Dawn L. Smalls in New York; Partner Ann O’Leary in San Francisco; Partners Thomas S. O’Neill, Erin R. Schrantz, Emma J. Sullivan, and Joseph J. Torres in Chicago; and Special Counsel Lucy Blake in London.