Leslie Thomas QC - who represented the Shepherd family in the recent Thomas Cook inquest - raises an interesting question in today's CityA.M. Should a CEO of a company facing a crisis turn to its lawyers or to its comms team?
The answer is, of course, both. But all too often it is the lawyers calling the shots. That, Leslie Thomas argues, can have a detrimental effect on reputation.
When facing a crisis businesses and the CEOs should not hide behind their lawyers. It leaves a business looking elusive, uncaring and defensive.
PRs and comms teams worth their salt will have prepared crisis comms plans in advance in the hope that they will never be needed.
Those plans, however, rarely include legal teams. When the proverbial hits the fan, PRs all too often find their best laid plans conflicting with the advice of lawyers.
The answer is simple. Work with lawyers, and other advisers, when crisis planning.
The legal profession may have gained an unfortunate reputation for bleeding clients dry in the name of billable hours, but QC Leslie Thomas would much rather companies didn’t pour every penny into their legal representation when faced with a crisis. “It’s really important to see the whole picture and not just to focus on what the lawyers say,” Thomas says when talking to City A.M. at his London chambers. “What a good chief executive will do is not just focus on the legal advice but focus on the other advisers in other areas – public affairs, brand, what’s good for the consumer – and, more importantly, that little compass that's in all of us which is known as the moral compass.”