General counsel must be able to react to a crisis at the same time social media reacts, senior figures have told the Law Society's flagship conference for in-house lawyers.
Major General Susan Ridge, director general of Army Legal Services, Matthew Wilson, associate general counsel EMEA for taxi and food delivery company Uber, and Abhijit Mukhopadhyay, president (legal) and general counsel at the Hinduja Group, a London-headquartered Indian conglomerate company, shared several pieces of advice at a panel session on the role of legal in crisis management.
Asked about the prevalence of social media and its impact on crisis management, delegates were told that prevention has become as important as ever. However, social media can also act as a shield as well as a sword, with people who know what is happening behind the scenes being able to jump to their defence.
The conference was also told that a diverse group of people handling a crisis will avoid 'skewed perspectives'.
Giving a keynote address, Lesley Wan, general counsel at FBN Bank UK, told the conference that chief executives are looking for GCs 'who can take some of the work off their shoulders'.
Wan was formerly legal counsel for Lloyds Banking Group. 'It's one thing to sit on the executive table but another thing to have a voice', she said. Initiatives to raise her own profile and build credibility include setting up a real estate finance forum for in-house lawyers as well as a mentoring programme specifically focused on female juniors as 'most of the bank was full of male bankers and not enough women'. Wan also established the 'eagle club' for senior female GCs to help them build their confidence.
Also giving the keynote address was Richard Given, general counsel at 10x Future Technologies Limited, a fin-tech start-up, who urged in-house lawyers never to compromise their ethics. 'Sometimes you have to stand up and recognise you might be signing your own termination letter with your employers. It's a hard thing to do, but if you stand for anything, stand for your integrity.'