Holland & Knight Forms Group to Guide Troubled Companies

June 19, 2015, 6:34 PM

Holland & Knight this week launched a risk and crisis management team to provide legal advice to corporations and executives whose futures may be in jeopardy or who are facing threats to their reputations.

The firm’s new team, which is composed of litigators, government relations professionals and crisis communications specialists, will be headed by Washington, D.C., partner Rich Gold and Miami partner John M. Hogan.

“The thing that actually drove it was our growing practice in the area of data breaches and privacy,” said Gold, who also leads the firm’s public policy and regulation practice, in an interview.

He explained that in a very short period of time, not long after social media became popular, data breaches became a rampant problem for clients, and the evolving legal issues around such breaches have made it essential for Holland & Knight to stay fluent.

“It’s an entirely different ball game now,” Gold said. “If we had this discussion 15 years ago and I told you that somebody was going to work through the Internet to get a bunch of information from a particular source and release it publicly, and that was going to be a catastrophic event, we would have laughed.”

With the launch of its group, Holland & Knight aims to establish a position for itself in this growing line of work, although Gold said it will build on the firm’s already-intact expertise, claiming: “We have pretty much been involved in every major breach for the last four years or so.”

The new risk management group includes 36 attorneys and about 45 total members.

Gold also highlighted the law firm’s in-house crisis communication team as a key element of the new group.

The members of that group are “true communications professionals, not lawyers or policy professionals turned communicators,” Gold added.

Holland & Knight said the group also includes former members of Congress, a former director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, a former chief of staff to the U.S. attorney general, a former U.S. attorney, a former Securities and Exchange Commission chief trial counsel and more. The firm is also bringing in new partners with experience in risk and crisis management, according to Gold.

“It’s more structure and more people and a different approach – a more cohesive approach,” Gold said. “We are definitely bringing in new people to help on this.”

Most recently, Gold said, Holland & Knight added the former acting inspector general for the U.S. Department of Defense. The firm announced the hiring of Lynne Halbrooks, who served as DOD’s acting inspector general from 2011 to 2013, on May 12.

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