News & Insights


September 21, 2023

General Counsel’s Decision Tree for Internal Investigations

Companies under tremendous regulatory pressure to comply with complex legal frameworks inevitably will need to conduct internal investigations. In-house legal departments should arm themselves with knowledge about how to conduct defensible investigations when the need arises. Internal investigations can be used to understand and act on a range of issues, from industry-specific concerns, such as those related to potential noncompliance with regulatory requirements, to more general concerns, including Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) compliance, data breaches, whistleblower complaints, risks introduced by the use of third parties, and human resources issues. While having a robust compliance program can help avoid many issues, not all issues can be foreseen or avoided.  

The second edition of the General Counsel’s Decision Tree for Internal Investigations is designed to facilitate the identification and remediation of issues, and is an important complement to a well-designed and functioning compliance program. It also will facilitate the in-house team’s communications with outside counsel. In addition, adherence to a well-crafted playbook helps companies meet the expectations of enforcement authorities, such as the Department of Justice (DOJ), the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), and state attorneys general (as well as others), which can materially mitigate potential enforcement efforts and sanctions. 

The GC Decision Tree is a resource to help in-house teams navigate internal investigations and the unique challenges they present. The GC Decision Tree covers, among other topics, scope and structure, privilege, data preservation, interviews, reporting, and involvement of enforcement authorities. Several industry-focused versions of the GC Decision Tree focus on issues especially relevant to companies in those industries, and the industry-agnostic version will be meaningful for private and public companies of all sizes in all industries. 

Special Matters and Government Investigations | Securities Enforcement and Regulation