The General Counsel in the time of the coronavirus
(by Ilaria Iaquinta; translation: Alessio Foderi)
I must admit: before writing this opinion piece on coronavirus outbreak, I’ve thought about it for a moment. After all, the last two weeks have been full of contents on COVID-19. This trend reached such a point that, as a journalist, I also wondered whether to do it or not, given that, just in these days, it was made clear that we have a category problem. But then, I said to myself that my intent is not to create alarmism, nor to calm the minds about the pandemic going on, nor to give my opinion on something that is bigger than me. I just want to talk about the fact that coronavirus is certainly a topic for general counsel, since it has several legal implications in the company. First of all, those who also follow employment issues, in these days, have to sort out all matters related to personal management, taking care of the operational measures to be followed to ensure employees’ health, from teleworking to workplace’s sanitation. Secondly, there are contracts with third parties. The chief legal officer also had to manage those, to understand how to minimize the losses when it was not possible to comply with the agreements made by the company itself or by the other parties involved. Then, there are the decisions to be taken following the orders issued by the authorities. Plus, there are those who have given a great help to their communication colleagues, for the news to be disseminated inside and outside the organization.
All this happened in emergency conditions that made reactivity and proactivity necessary to develop a fast action plan capable of minimizing legal risks.
In short, once again, the general counsel is proving to be a precious resource for companies, of great support in crisis situations. He is a professional who is able to go further, able to go the extra mile. And who knows what s/he will learn from the management of this emergency and what new roles this profession will inherit … we will find out together and we will certainly talk about it …