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Christopher Carusone's Top 5 Common Errors to Avoid during an Internal Investigation

Press Release - February 10, 2016

PHILADELPHIA, Feb. 10, 2016 /PRNewswire/ -- Christopher Carusone, a Partner at Cohen Seglias Pallas Greenhall & Furman PC and co-chair of the firm's internal investigations practice group, examines common mistakes during an internal investigation. With the benefit of 20 years of experience conducting and supervising investigations, Christopher Carusone offers his top 5 errors to avoid during the internal investigations process.

An internal investigation can be a highly effective way to address allegations of employee misconduct, reduce legal liability, ensure compliance with statutory and regulatory requirements, and root out waste, fraud, or abuse within an organization. But an internal investigation that is not designed or managed properly can do more harm than good. Corporate counsel would be well advised to work with experienced outside counsel when conducting an internal investigation in order to avoid these five costly mistakes before they can occur.

  1. Failing to conduct an investigation. It is a generally accepted proposition that not every allegation of ­wrongdoing ­requires a full-blown investigation. However, in some situations commissioning an internal investigation is absolutely necessary.
  2. Picking the wrong investigator. This is the single biggest decision that in-house counsel must make after deciding that an investigation is necessary, and the one counsel can least afford to get wrong.
  3. Starting too late. Perhaps the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit said it best: "The most significant immediate measure an employer can take in response to a harassment complaint is to launch a prompt investigation to determine whether the complaint is justified." Swenson v. Potter, 271 F.3d 1184 (9th Cir. 2001).
  4. Conducting a sham investigation. Corporate counsel must expect that any investigator worth his or her salt is going to be reluctant to unconditionally stand behind the results of an investigation if the investigator believes that he or she is not in possession of the truth.
  5. Taking too long (and spending too much). Internal investigations can be real cash cows for outside counsel if not managed properly.

Read the full version of Chris Carusone's article in January 20th's edition of The Legal Intelligencer, available here.