Corporate executive teams and their in-house legal departments used to be called upon to conduct internal investigations when there was some kind of employee misconduct that needed to be assessed or perhaps a conflict of interest concern to be quickly resolved. Those types of issues still surface, of course, but the mazes of regulations and litigation risks that are present in today’s global economy have introduced a much wider range of underlying causes for corporate internal investigations. For example, retaliation claims brought by former executives, cross-border accounting fraud charges brought by foreign governments and unexpected whistleblower complaints are just a few examples in the news.
And whether an internal investigation is required by a government agency or is voluntarily initiated based on an internal concern, there is a certain pattern to most investigations and some recurring best practices that can be leveraged by in-house and outside counsel. We collected some of those valuable insights and have been sharing them in a four-part series of blog posts.
In Part One of our series, we addressed the importance of establishing a smart investigation strategy. In Part Two, we explored how to build a smart investigation team. In Part Three, we focused on how to conduct smart investigation interviews.
Today, we wrap up the series by sharing some ideas for how to perform smart investigation analysis. Here are some suggestions offered by veterans of corporate internal investigations:
- Reassess scope and timeline of investigation
Once all of the interviews have been completed and notes have been compiled, experts advise that it’s important to review the findings very carefully before moving to the analysis phase. You may discover that the investigation scope and timeline needs to be modified based on the findings you’ve collected.
- Identify items for follow-up
As you begin your analysis, consider whether new issues have been identified and whether additional data or documents need to be collected. Perhaps you’ll need to conduct some follow-up interviews in order to round out the findings.
- Organize the evidence
It’s essential to accurately organize and categorize all of the investigation findings for purposes of analysis, drawing conclusions and ultimately reporting back to the government, executive team and/or board of directors. The foundation for a successful internal investigation is having great technology tools to collect and organize key documents.
- Leverage power of machine-learning analytics
To reduce the time (and cost) required reviewing and analyzing the data collected in the investigation, experts advise to take advantage of the power of Technology Assisted Review (TAR). TAR significantly speeds up access to important documents and narrows the scope of the data to a more precise set of results. For example, a software platform such as Lexis DiscoveryIQ uses machine-learning analytics technology that works the way the human brain works to improve speed, performance and scalability.
“Each corporate internal investigation is unique, but legal experts agree that some deliberate advance planning can help you to work more efficiently, reduce potential mistakes and ensure that investigatory standards are upheld,” said Steve Ashbacher, vice president of litigation solutions with the LexisNexis software and technology business. “The goal should be to reach a clear and accurate conclusion that demonstrates persuasively to regulators, judges or juries that a thorough process was followed in the course of the investigation.”
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