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No two companies are the same, no two crises are the same and no two companies work through crises in the same way. That said, my interactions as a senior lawyer in General Electric’s legal department with numerous law firms during the financial crisis in 2008-09, the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant disaster in 2011, GE’s expedited exit from the financial services industry in 2015 and several other periods of significant stress suggest a few rules of the road for outside counsel as they interact with clients trying to navigate the coronavirus pandemic.

The most important guiding principles are to be helpful and to steer clear of anything that might be construed as insensitivity to a client’s distress—or, even worse, an attempt to take advantage of that distress. When we get through this crisis, as we undoubtedly will, clients will have long memories of both.

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