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Defending corporate reputation from litigation threats

Helio Fred Garcia (Executive director of the Logos Institute for Crisis Management & Executive Leadership, is an adjunct professor of management at New York University (hfgarcia@logosinstitute.net))
Anthony Ewing (An attorney, is a lecturer at the Columbia University School of Law (aewing@logosinstitute.net).)

Strategy & Leadership

ISSN: 1087-8572

Article publication date: 9 May 2008

Abstract

Purpose

Class action litigation has the potential to severely damage the image customers have of a company (brand), often with calamitous consequences for its strategy. Such risks increase when plaintiff's attorneys use all of the instruments of influence to embarrass and persuade large corporations to settle large lawsuits before they ever reach a courtroom. The aim of this paper is to examine this issue.

Design/methodology/approach

The paper offers a five‐point plan that organizations can use to pro‐actively defend themselves from aggressive litigants and thus protect their brand.

Findings

The paper finds that companies that cede the litigation communication advantage to their adversaries commit a fundamental mistake. They fail to understand the threat they face.

Practical implications

Corporations facing class action litigation need to understand that: it is more than a legal fight; and plaintiffs' lawyers count on corporate defendants to act (and communicate) in predictable and often counterproductive ways. Litigation (and all supporting communication) is at its core a battle for the hearts and minds of the stakeholders. It is a simultaneous public relations and political war being waged against the defendant company.

Originality/value

The paper shows how organizations can defend their reputation in litigation by: understanding the context of the fight; identifying the likely assault; pre‐empting their adversary; and communicating forcefully.

Keywords

Citation

Fred Garcia, H. and Ewing, A. (2008), "Defending corporate reputation from litigation threats", Strategy & Leadership, Vol. 36 No. 3, pp. 41-45. https://doi.org/10.1108/10878570810870785

Publisher

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Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2008, Emerald Group Publishing Limited