If your company is under investigation for fraud and they have a lawyer on staff, take a step back before sharing any information with them. While a company lawyer could be working to assist you, their primary responsibility is to protect the interests of the company with which they’re in contract with.
In-House Legal Teams
As of 2017, fifty-one percent of U.S. companies retain full-time legal counsel. Such legal counsel is on payroll to perform a wide range of legal and business tasks such as managing:
- Contracts| Prepare and explain standard business contracts for suppliers, customers, staff, clients, etc.
- Real Estate| Handle negotiations for commercial leases.
- Employment law| Provide guidance on best practices as well as negotiating difficult employment situations.
- Taxes| Guide the business on various tax consequences of business transactions.
- Intellectual property| Register products and services for federal trademark and copyright protections.
An in-house legal team may also be “first on the scene” when allegations of fraud come up. In the case of fraud, with so much at stake, your company’s lawyer may partner with a firm who has expertise in this area. During the initial investigatory period, however, your company lawyer may want to sit down and chat with employees. These chats, even if seemingly informal, could be used against you in a court of law.
This lawyer is only working in your best interest if it aligns with the best interest of the company it represents. In a situation like this, it’s best to talk only with your own lawyer: someone whose sole focus is on your best interests. The punishment for fraud is life-altering and must be taken seriously right off the bat.