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Crisis Law & Strategy Group

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Why Us?

Home to the best trial lawyers in the world, we have built our reputation by achieving victory against the odds in “bet the company” litigation.  In virtually every legal sector, our lawyers have achieved unparalleled success, winning 88 percent of our trials, and generating more than $70 billion for our clients.  From white collar to antitrust to the entire range of financial issues and cross-border disputes, we have lawyers around the globe ready to respond to any challenge.  In high stakes matters, things move very fast, and bad news—and false news—spreads literally in minutes.  Getting a verdict from a judge or jury can take years, but in the court of public opinion, verdicts are rendered almost immediately and can directly affect a company and its leaders—especially the CEO and the GC—long before the first court hearing.

Great lawyering means a lot more than just crafting winning legal strategies.  Litigation or government scrutiny may be one part of a larger crisis, and the pieces need to be managed together.  That means managing the public trial—or more often the public media circus—so you don’t lose your reputation, your business, or your soon-to-be-filed court case before you’ve even had a chance to see a judge.  It means recognizing all the audiences you must effectively communicate with in order to win the battle: the court and jury, of course; but also the “mainstream” media, the trade press, the bloggers and other “influencers,” investor relations in all its forms, your customers, your employees, your competitors, all of whom are making decisions in real time when crisis hits.

At Quinn Emanuel, we know crisis management requires a proactive, multi-disciplined approach and have the experience to fight in every arena.  It requires not only knowing your business and the law but also understanding how the media works, knowing who the opinion-makers are, and sending the right message to the public and to specialized audiences, as well as the courts.  When troubles hit, we hit the ground running.  Our lawyers know how to get to the top fast; to mobilize the third parties you need to support your case; to build a story or kill it. We work across time zones, across the world, 24/7.  When Los Angeles sleeps, Europe wakes up, then New York, Chicago…not to mention Australia and Asia.

When is a crisis really a crisis?  When it threatens your company, your CEO, your business, and your relationships. It can begin as an existential threat or just the hint of trouble.  A lawsuit can be the crisis or an outgrowth of one.  A crisis can be caused by an employee or an act of God, a terrorist strike or a dealer who finds a defect.  It can be a massive cyber breach, a multi-pronged government investigation, a come-from-nowhere complaint against your CEO, a disgruntled former-employee-turned-whistleblower, a phone call from a regulator, or a sick customer halfway around the world, who could be the first of many.  

We have created a special practice group with attorneys whose bags are always packed and ready to tackle a crisis wherever and whenever.  Our attorneys take immediate action to navigate any predicament, implement tactical communication plans, and lead clients through challenging situations.

And we don’t just deal with crises after-the-fact.  We help clients think through pressing corporate issues, mitigate risk and develop effective legal, policy and communications strategies before crises hit.  From the workforce diversity and sexual harassment issues making headlines to corporate governance, information leaks and the boundaries of free expression to sustainability issues, the products of tomorrow and heightened regulatory schemes, we provide informed thought leadership, and concrete roadmaps to success.  We can help with a broad range of issues of concern to c-suite executives – and those that should be. We conduct internal reviews, leverage best practices, and build proactive strategies to enhance your brand and impress your stakeholders.  We stay up at night solving problems you may not even realize you have.

Who We Are

The Crisis Law & Strategy Group operates both in the United States and around the globe because the needs are everywhere. With 31 offices worldwide, we will be by your side from beginning to end.  We know what to do, who to call, how to move, what to say, because really, that’s what we’ve been doing for the past two decades.  Now, we do it in double time around the world.  We’d like to meet with you and your top leaders so you know what we do and how we can help.

We have pulled together a select group of lawyers with decades of experience in the public and private spheres into a multi-disciplinary group that can handle any crisis.  The group is chaired by firm Founder and Chairman, John Quinn, who has built the firm into a global litigation and arbitration powerhouse, Ambassador Crystal Nix-Hines in Los Angeles, and Co-Managing Partner and former Special Counsel to the President Bill Burck in Washington, D.C.  As described below, they are aided by an impressive team of lawyers and former government officials, who bring decades of experience and contacts to bear, including former prosecutors adept in government investigations, former senior government officials who know their way around Washington, Senate-confirmed appointees who know how to prepare for congressional hearings, media experts with decades-long relations and a savvy sense of how to use them, and skilled trial lawyers who know how to best position our clients and force opponents onto the defensive.

What We Do

Strategic & Communications Expertise.

Quinn Emanuel’s Crisis Law & Strategy Group specializes in providing unique depth and breadth of support. We can provide rapid response to address crisis management and communications issues whenever they arise. But we also do much more than that, working with clients to provide global, long-term thought leadership and vision, often at intersections of strategy, regulation and litigation.

We may come into play when clients brace for impending regulations that could adversely affect them, or as they strive for new or modified regulations; when clients mount internal investigations to assess the scope of risk; when clients undertake public advocacy around their key policy goals; or when clients strive to promote diversity and inclusion and workforce compliance matters. Our expertise has been utilized in a broad range of contexts and fields that call for incisive, rigorous analysis, quick-thinking, and a strategic vision. And we are always keenly mindful of the prospects and sensitivities of litigation, working hand in glove with our litigation teams on a daily and hourly basis.

For consumer-products companies facing litigation and regulatory actions in multiple jurisdictions and abroad.

  • Developed forward-leaning jury instructions for use across jurisdictions with the goal (ultimately successful) of creating favorable, novel precedent;
  • Coordinated substantial amicus efforts across jurisdictions in order to broaden support for client’s positions;
  • Presented analyses of future litigation risks and regulatory trends likely to impact client (including risks and trends relating to other industries);
  • Engaged in advocacy in advance of laws introducing class actions in France;
  • Developed a communications and branding strategy, including white papers and oral testimony to key stake-holders.

For the technology and content industries.

  • Created coalitions, including with competitors, to advocate for policy positions across the tech and content industries;
  • Advised technology executives on quick changes to business and licensing practices to head off public crises;
  • Coordinated national public and amicus support around key priority issues;
  • Drafted postings addressing public concerns;
  • Engaged in quiet outreach to complaining parties to address and resolve issues.

For the sports industry.

  • On the eve of a news story by a national publication alleging workplace misconduct including sexual and racial harassment by the owner and CEO of an NFL team, we devised a legal and communications/public relations strategic plan. Our work in the first 48 hours following the news breaking of the workplace misconduct was recognized by Sports Illustrated as “a brilliant stroke of crisis management.”
  • Prepared a plan for protecting the NFL’s interests in the face of an independent investigation commissioned by the NFL into allegations of workplace misconduct by the owner and CEO and the workplace conditions for team employees generally. The plan included crafting a strategy for the team to cooperate with the League’s investigation with minimal workplace disruption; anticipating and planning for NFL response to external factors (threatened lawsuits, additional media reports, upcoming team sale); preparing witnesses; formulating consistent public relations strategies and communication between the club and independent investigators. We successfully executed this plan, and the club was sold in May 2018 for nearly $2.3 billion, the highest amount ever paid for a sports franchise.

For entities facing workforce-related issues.

  • Reviewed institutions’ recruitment and retention of diverse employees, and recommended diversity initiatives for company adoption and implementation;
  • Designed and implemented effective governance and compliance programs for public companies;
  • Created and implemented a national program to investigate sexual misconduct and to compensate victims;
  • Developed a communications strategy to address public concerns and branding.

For entities facing regulatory issues.

  • Successfully organized and represented a collection of pharmaceutical compounders when they confronted a new threat from a drug manufacturer that brought a novel theory to the ITC, arguing that importation of an active ingredient violated FDA exclusivity.! Had the action gained traction, it could have posed a huge threat to existing business and opened up new fronts of exposure.! Instead, we convinced the ITC to reject the action without instituting an investigation – something the ITC almost never does.
  • Worked with energy companies to anticipate and get out in front of various emerging threats, including from governmental investigation and regulation, and private actions that threaten to create dangerous new fronts of exposure for them.
  • Mobilized residents of Puerto Rico and concerned observers to develop and pursue a groundbreaking challenge, now on file, to the ways that the U.S. Government discriminates against Puerto Rico when administering welfare benefits.

For the defense industry and non-profits facing legal risks abroad.

  • Advised entities on contractor liability and accountability, as well as ways to mitigate risk and ensure compliance with FCPA and other laws;
  • Helped companies with crisis management in conflict and post-conflict environments.

Recent Representations

  • Corruption Allegations: When Fédération Internationale de Football Association (“FIFA”) was rocked by allegations of “rampant, systemic, and deep-rooted” corruption, we had a team on the ground in Switzerland within hours, advising the international soccer’s governing body amid a raid on its headquarters and the arrests of numerous senior soccer officials. Since then, the team led by Bill Burck and Thomas Werlen has helped guide FIFA through the crisis—conducting an internal investigation, advising on media strategy, helping pass wide-ranging reforms, and cooperating with government authorities on FIFA’s behalf. As a result, FIFA has secured victim status in the global investigations and is actively pursuing restitution for the losses it suffered at the hands of corrupt officials.
  • Sexual Misconduct Allegations: When the University of Southern California faced sexual misconduct allegations from hundreds of women involving the former University gynecologist, it turned to John Quinn, Michael Williams, Shon Morgan, and Diane Doolittle for legal and communications counsel. In this intense media spotlight, our team quickly devised a strategy to navigate the legal and PR landscape, including reaching an early and favorable class action settlement, providing wide-ranging relief to those impacted, which is expected to be approved by the court. 
  • A team led by Diane Doolittle secured a dismissal on behalf of venture capitalist Michael Goguen in a sex abuse lawsuit where Goguen’s former lover (Baptiste) and her attorney (Morrell) defrauded and extorted Goguen into signing a $40 million “settlement agreement” under threats of destroying his life with fabricated claims of rape, STD infections, pedophilia, and more.  After Goguen refused to make payment on the extorted agreement, Baptiste sued Goguen to collect the $40 million.  QE obtained a full trial victory on behalf of Goguen against Baptiste, with the court declaring the “settlement agreement” void as procured by fraud and extortion. The court also dismissed Morrell’s entire case on a demurrer against Goguen for $100 million, where Morell claimed he legitimately represented Baptiste against Goguen and thus was entitled to the $10 million contingency fee (plus $90 million in punitive damages) he would have earned had Baptiste not fired him just before entering into the extorted settlement agreement with Goguen; Goguen’s cross-complaint against Morrell remained.
  • Government Investigations: Jim Asperger and Crystal Nix-Hines have successfully defended Fortune 100 companies facing government investigations. Through an aggressive, carefully orchestrated strategy, they helped one company obtain a favorable settlement in a statewide government investigation regarding the company’s hazardous waste and materials practices. In another, their persuasive presentations to the government, including a White Paper characterized by the General Counsel as “the best he’s ever seen,” deterred further governmental action.
  • Criminal Prosecution: A team led by Juan Morillo represents the Rosenthals, one of the wealthiest and most prominent families in Central America, in connection with high-profile criminal prosecutions of several family members, and OFAC investigations alleging that family members and companies laundered funds for narcotics traffickers in Latin America. Days after OFAC sanctions were imposed—threatening the survival of the entire group—we deployed a team that led a corporation reorganization worth in excess of $1 billion, saving three of the family’s most valuable companies.
  • A team led by Bill Burck and Alex Spiro represented Robert K. Kraft, the owner of the New England Patriots, in connection with solicitation of prostitution charges brought against him by the State of Florida. QE challenged the constitutionality of the sneak-and-peek search warrant that led to video evidence of his alleged acts. After extensive briefing and a three-day hearing, our motion to suppress was granted. Importantly, the judge suppressed all other evidence derived from the illegal video recordings, including a subsequent traffic stop that allowed the JPD to identify Mr. Kraft. The appeals court affirmed the suppression of this illegally-obtained evidence. Finally, in 2021, the trial court ordered the government to destroy all of that suppressed evidence, ending this two-year legal saga in Mr. Kraft’s favor.
  • Bribery Allegations: Construction giant Odebrecht turned to Michael Carlinsky and Bill Burck for help after its president was arrested and accused of paying millions of dollars in bribes to senior officials in Brazil’s state-owned oil company, Petrobras, as part of the massive Lava Jato corruption scandal. Facing investigations in multiple jurisdictions and the prospect of crushing penalties that could put the company out of business, they achieved a historic global settlement within months, resolving corruption allegations in a dozen countries.
  • Whistleblower Complaint: Following a whistleblower complaint resulting in an internal investigation and resignation of its auditor, a California-based technology company turned to Jim Asperger and Kristin Tahler to handle the crisis. We immediately had a team on the ground to diffuse the crisis and guide the Company through the investigation, including managing divergent views between directors and management.
  • Government Raid: In 2016, Quinn Emanuel was retained by a U.S. based broker-dealer to advise with respect to a raid on their Manila offices by the Philippine’s National Bureau of Investigation. The raid resulted in the arrest of more than 30 employees, including a U.S. executive visiting the office, based on allegations that the employees were operating a “boiler room” out of the Philippines. Corey Worchester and Ellyde Thompson successfully worked across multiple time zones to get all the employees released and the charges dropped.
  • Takeover Battle: Overnight, an M&A transaction involving the Swiss specialty chemicals company Sika and the French construction conglomerate Saint-Gobain turned into what The Economist dubbed “Europe’s nastiest takeover battle.” Thomas Werlen was brought in by the family shareholder of Sika, who faced unprecedented opposition by the company’s board of directors when it sought to sell its stake in the company. Mr. Werlen helped set up a team of strategic, legal and media advisors to lead the family through the various lawsuits, PR, management and shareholders’ issues.
  • Sweeping Wildfires: Our offices in Australia, led by Michelle Fox and Michael Mills, have successfully represented numerous companies, and prominent directors and officers facing corporate crises, including Infigen Energy, the largest owner of wind farms in Australia, in relation to a recent bushfire on its property which resulted in significant damage to surrounding properties and attracted scrutiny from the government and media.
  • A team led by Kenneth Chiate and Jeffrey Boozell represented Pacific Gas and Electric Company in defense of wildfire-related mass tort claims involving thousands of plaintiffs, including subrogated insurers, government entities, and homeowners, asserting approximately $2 billion in damage claims.  QE resolved hundreds of claims through mediation and obtained reversal and dismissal of all claims for punitive damages from the California Court of Appeal in Pacific Gas and Electric Company v. Superior Court, following denial by the trial court of a summary judgment motion. The team also represented San Diego Gas & Electric and Sempra Energy in defense of over $2 billion in property damage claims and two class actions and over $1 billion in subrogation claims by 120 property insurers involving the 2007 San Diego wildfires and recovered over $824 million from the cross defendants.
  • Entertainment and Sports Industries: The firm regularly represents and advises individuals and corporations in the entertainment and sports industries across a multitude of allegations regarding films, television shows, music artists, recording labels, professional sports teams, etc., including both civil and criminal matters, in state and federal courts.
  • Data Privacy: Plaintiffs filed a putative class action against our client, Ancestry.com, alleging Ancestry violated their rights to publicity by using personal information from plaintiffs' (and millions of others') yearbooks to advertise Ancestry's paid services.  QE was able to convince the court to dismiss all of plaintiffs’ claims.  The firm has also defended IBM in multiple class actions by Illinois residents asserting claims under Illinois’s Biometric Information Privacy Act (BIPA). QE successfully defended IBM and its subsidiary, TWC Product and Technology (“TWC”)—owner of The Weather Channel Mobile App—in a high-profile lawsuit brought by the Los Angeles City Attorney on behalf of the People of California in California state court alleging that TWC’s purported failure to disclose its use and sharing of users’ geolocation data for advertising and other commercial purposes violated California’s Unfair Competition Law. The firm is currently representing Google in two data privacy class actions in which the plaintiffs seek to recover billions of dollars on the basis of Google’s alleged misappropriation of users’ personal data through its third-party web services.
  • Congressional Investigations: In little over a week, Steve Madison and Michael Liftik and others at the firm prepared a former company executive for four congressional hearings over three days arising out of a major data breach. We have extensive experience preparing witnesses for testimony and working with staff from the Senate Banking and Senate Judiciary Committees, the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations, the House Financial Services, House Oversight and Government Relations, and the House Judiciary Committees to achieve fair hearings that give witnesses the opportunity tell their story, while withstanding the glare of media scrutiny.
  • Faith-Based Investigations: When a religious community faced the national spotlight over allegations its leadership failed to act swiftly in response to child molestation by a former member, it turned to Diane Doolittle and Crystal Nix-Hines to lead an internal investigation. Our team conducted nearly two dozen interviews in a matter of weeks before reporting back with findings and recommendations moving forward. The team deftly devised a strategy for the community to communicate with its membership while withstanding the glare of media scrutiny. When an international Charismatic Christian megachurch was accused of mishandling a report of sexual misconduct by an employee, Hillsong Church called on Quinn Emanuel’s Diane Doolittle and Crystal Nix-Hines to lead an internal investigation, where a dozen Church members were interviewed before the team presented its findings and recommendations and deftly devised a strategy for the Church to communicate with its membership while withstanding the glare of media scrutiny.
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