Business Disputes: It’s What We Do
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Photo of attorneys E. Kelly Conway, Michael E. Gehring and Stephen G. Harvey

Legal Representation for Board and Internal Investigations

In both for profit and nonprofit settings, allegations of wrongdoing by employees and officials are increasingly common. Such allegations may involve fraud, financial crime, sexual harassment, and other violations of law or wrongdoing. They may stem from government reports, whistleblower complaints, or internal audits. From the perspective of the organization, what is most important is that the allegations be investigated properly and that it be protected from exposure for the alleged wrongful acts. From the perspective of employees or officials that are the subject of the allegations, what is most important is that the investigation be conducted fairly and that they not be found at fault for the alleged wrongful acts. From either perspective, it is critically important to have experienced counsel providing advice and assisting with the hopes of a successful outcome (employee or official cleared of allegations), an acceptable outcome (such as resignation without further action), or an inevitable outcome (criminal charges, civil litigation, etc.).

While the lawyers at Steve Harvey Law have extensive experience conducting corporate investigations, we are more frequently asked to represent employees or officials who are the subject of investigations. Our role as counsel for officials or employees under scrutiny is to advise and assist in dealing with the lawyers conducting the investigation while the clients (if possible) continue their work as normal as possible. This requires us to come up to speed on the background facts as quickly as possible while identifying and analyzing evidence (such as internal email and texts) that may be important to the investigations and to our clients’ positions. Ultimately, beyond coordinating and communicating with the investigators and collecting and analyzing the evidence, our greatest value lies in the advice we provide to the clients throughout the process. This requires equal measures of candor and understanding, with careful calibration of what is both just and possible. In short, it is not something that is taught in law school, but can only be learned through experience. The goal is to improve the client’s position during the investigation and minimize potential negative consequences.

Our experience comes from decades representing and advising clients faced with charges and accusations. The identity of the clients we represent in internal investigations is confidential, but it includes senior officials in public and private universities, non-profit human service organizations, and many private companies. Most of our clients are referred to us by other clients or through longstanding relationships in the law firm and legal community.

If you are facing an internal investigation—or even the possibility of an investigation—you should engage experienced counsel such as Steve Harvey Law to help guide you through the process. Depending on your contractual arrangement with the profit or non-profit organization, they may have an obligation to pay for your legal fees, as explained elsewhere under Indemnification and Advancement. The earlier you engage counsel the more likely counsel will be able to help you avoid problems and plan for a successful or at least acceptable outcome.