Article prepared by and republished courtesy of our colleagues in the White Collar, Corporate Crime and Investigations practice group of DLA Piper; originally published here:

The first minutes and hours after the government executes a search warrant, serves a subpoena, or otherwise lets you know you’re under investigation can be critical in determining the investigation’s eventual outcome. A company’s immediate response may make the difference between an investigation that goes nowhere and one that leads to the company’s demise.

This handbook outlines the key do’s and don’ts for company executives and in-house counsel during the initial period before counsel arrives. It covers in the most basic terms what to do when:

  • The government executes a search warrant, either at corporate headquarters or a corporate facility.
  • The government serves a grand jury or administrative subpoena requiring production of vast quantities of documents in a very short time.
  • Government agents appear at a company’s manufacturing or other facility and start interviewing low-level employees.
  • Company counsel learns that government agents have been contacting employees at home in order to interview them or serve grand jury subpoenas.
  • Government agents show up unannounced at company headquarters and ask that a company executive speak with them “voluntarily.”
  • A government contracting officer shows up at an otherwise routine audit with a small army of other government agents.
  • OSHA agents arrive at a company facility immediately after an employee is seriously injured or killed in an explosion or industrial accident.
  • A news reporter calls with questions about an allegedly nefarious company practice, drawing on information received from a whistleblower.

Although every situation is different and calls for case-specific advice from experienced white collar counsel, general guidelines on how to act in such situations should help prevent the company from making grave mistakes while counsel can be notified and arrive on the scene to assist. This handbook lays out those guidelines. It also includes a sample US federal search warrant as well as attachments to advise employees of their rights during an investigative crisis.