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For the past four years I’ve served as either a moderator or panelist at sessions on “Ethics and the Corporation” held at Stanford Law School’s annual Directors’ College, which this year took place in late June. I’ve also participated in sessions that have focused on mergers and acquisitions and on D&O liability insurance. Given the current atmosphere involving corporations, it should come as no surprise that many of this year’s discussions focused on governance, compliance, ethics and the consequences of failures in these areas such as shareholder litigation, special investigations, indemnities for directors and crisis management. Directors and senior executives are naturally interested in how to manage crises and minimize the consequences of responding to allegations of criminal and civil wrongdoing by company employees. They are, however, even more interested in avoiding altogether investigations, litigation and D&O coverage and indemnity issues. What does this mean for GCs and in-house legal departments? It means that there are significant challenges and, at the same time, opportunities for providing high-quality legal services for the company. Now may be an excellent time to advocate increased investment in the legal department.

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