Crisis Management & Incident Response

Murphy’s law is an adage typically stated as: “Anything that can go wrong will go wrong.” Some formulations extend it to: “Anything that can go wrong will go wrong, and at the worst possible time.” That perfectly defines a catastrophic incident where the initiating event cascades quickly into many issues with serious legal, operational and other consequences. The diagram below demonstrates the sources of risk that can arise from a catastrophic event — civil and criminal prosecution; shareholder and citizen litigation; insurance disputes; investigations by Congress, the Securities and Exchange Commission or state attorneys general; and impacts to reputation and public opinion. In these critical situations, clients need experienced, savvy lawyers to provide a strategic and integrated approach to guide them through the incident.

incident response infographic

McGuireWoods’ crisis management and incident response practice group combats, navigates and mitigates immediate multifront challenges while anticipating and accounting for longer-term liabilities such as class action lawsuits, congressional investigations and loss of shareholder confidence.

As one of the few law firms in the United States with a nationwide incident response practice, McGuireWoods helps clients respond to a crisis at a moment’s notice. We manage the varying interests that arise post-incident and balance these interests while ensuring employee and public safety, limiting a company’s litigation and other exposure, and facilitating a company’s efforts to restore the affected asset to service. 

How We Help

The first 96 hours after an incident often determine ultimate exposure for a client. For example, responding quickly and having air, asbestos, and other forensic monitoring in place immediately after an explosion provides the data necessary to defend an exposure case brought by neighbors two years after the incident. It is too late to gather such critical data even just days after the incident.

Federal and state regulators often show up at the site in a matter of hours, launching their own investigations and making determinations as to the likely cause of the incident. Plaintiffs’ lawyers will find clients, file lawsuits and hold press conferences to influence the local community, before the literal dust settles from an incident. In addition, national and local news, along with blogs and social media, will begin suggesting blame without the facts and without waiting for a thorough investigation. McGuireWoods understands the need to act immediately to stay ahead of regulators, plaintiffs’ lawyers and the media. We maintain deep relationships with industry forensic experts on whom we can call at a moment’s notice.

We have a long history of guiding corporations through crises. Our nationally recognized team of environmental enforcement attorneys, class action/mass action litigators, white collar veterans and media-trained strategic communications specialists have specific, identifiable experience helping corporations face the multipronged onslaught of issues a company faces following a catastrophic incident.

crisis management brochure

Download a copy of our team brochure.

Nationally recognized for Energy: Electricity (Regulatory & Litigation), Environmental, and Product Liability & Mass Torts


Environmental practice recognitions in North Carolina, Virginia, and Washington, D.C.


Nationally recognized for Energy Litigation: Electric Power, and Energy Litigation: Oil & Gas, Environmental Litigation, and Environmental Regulatory


No. 1 law firm to defend Fortune 500 Companies in tort litigation


Litigation Powerhouse

– LAW360

Partner named “Environmental Law MVP” multiple times

– LAW360

Multiple partners named Environmental Law and Personal Injury Litigation – Defendants “Lawyers of the Year”


Multiple partners named “Energy & Environmental Trailblazers”


Multiple partners named “Client Service All-Stars”