In a crisis, attorneys naturally focus on legal and regulatory risks, and how to mitigate and defend against those risks, whether the crisis arises from a product, cybersecurity, financial, integrity or other failure. However, significant missteps occur when a corporate client reacts to a crisis with a “circle the wagons” approach, without regard for the importance of empathy, both in terms of communication and response, and in terms of internal consideration of the matter.

Empathy can be defined as an awareness of and sensitivity to the circumstances, interests and perspectives of others, including, in the crisis context, those who are affected. An empathetic approach aligns with the growing emphasis on the purpose-driven corporation’s consideration of the interests of customers, employees, suppliers, the broader communities in which the corporation operates, and of course shareholders, as outlined in a business roundtable statement.