Client Advisory: 5 Key Benefits to Conducting an Independent Investigation
In recent years, the need for independent investigations has increased when organizations are faced with often publicized controversies involving the actions or decisions of executives or leaders.
And for good reason. Independent investigations – as opposed to internal ones conducted or overseen by in-house lawyers, compliance/ethics officers, existing outside counsel, or HR departments – offer unique benefits to boards and leaders in business, government, schools, and other institutions. For example:
1. Methods are more likely to arrive at the truth. Independent investigators can offer anonymity and confidentiality to witnesses that others who know the individuals or have a connection to the organization cannot by virtue of their relationship, role, or responsibility. Effectively shielding an individual’s identity will encourage him/her to participate in the investigation without fear of exposure or backlash from an employer, supervisor or fellow employee.
2. Being - and - appearing to be unbiased. Independent investigators have no prior history or relationship with the institution or parties involved, and therefore, will have no preconceived notions about the claims, the accused or the accuser. And, because independent investigators are held to the higher standard of complete objectivity, everyone involved will receive a fair and unbiased investigation that is based purely on the facts and findings.
3. Ability to address systemic organizational problems. Independent investigations are more likely to identify and help address issues involving the organization’s leadership as well as its existing policies and practices. An investigative report and set of recommendations will help ensure that the organization’s leader, board of directors or governing body is fulfilling its fiduciary and oversight governance responsibilities. As a result, governing bodies are able to deal with and remedy any managerial or operational concerns, and institute systems to minimize the chance of recurring allegations in the future.
4. Open and honest communication with stakeholders and constituencies. Organizations that conduct independent investigations are seen as more credible and can more easily gain the confidence of stakeholders and constituencies (customers, shareholders, voters, students/parents, or even the media and the public at large) when the results of the investigation are made public and steps are taken to address any needed organizational reforms. At a minimum, the external world will credit or at least give the benefit of the doubt to an organization willing to be examined and evaluated independently.
5. Demonstration of good faith, credibility and responsibility to law enforcement and regulatory authorities. Organizations faced with allegations from an alleged victim whistleblower or media story may be subjected to parallel criminal or regulatory investigations. By proactively conducting an independent investigation and sharing any corrective actions with government investigators, an organization may be able to mitigate or prevent further review or action.
An organization that finds itself facing a serious accusation will be well-positioned to resolve the issue if they proactively hire independent investigators to find and communicate the truth, and produce a result that provides a positive path forward.
About Casner & Edwards’ Independent Investigations Group Casner & Edwards’ Independent Investigations Group provides thorough and efficient investigative work for private schools, colleges and universities, nonprofit organizations, private and public employers, and individuals. Our attorneys have been retained to look into myriad issues, including allegations of government corruption or ethical violations, patterns of misconduct in executive and judicial offices, institutional abuse by hospital professionals and staff, faculty-student and student-on-student sexual assaults in secondary schools and colleges, employment harassment in the workplace, and racial discrimination against customers, to name a few.
Illustrating our frontline experience in this area, we count within our ranks a former Massachusetts Attorney General and District Attorney, an Assistant Attorney General, a Senior Special Agent for the Department of Justice and other former enforcement officials. Leveraging this public sector background, we maintain a nationwide network of contacts in federal and state government, and know how to cut through red tape.