Katrina, Rita And Social Responsibility

Saturday, October 1, 2005 - 01:00

Al Driver
The Metropolitan Corporate Counsel

It isn't too often that the U.S. has a disaster that triggers massive contributions for relief of the victims - 9/11 was one and Katrina and Rita were others. In the wake of these events there was a vast outpouring of giving by corporate America and the law firms and legal service providers that serve them.

Not too long ago, respectable legal commentators were suggesting that corporate giving should be prohibited because it diverted funds that otherwise might be invested "in the business." This argument is no longer heard.

What is being heard is that those companies that do not live up to their social responsibilities are more vulnerable not only to business reverses, but to legal liability. After all, the human beings who serve as judges, jurors and legislators gain impressions about a company over time and, if those impressions are unfavorable, legal and legislative outcomes can be adversely affected. The most sophisticated general counsel recognizes that his/her company's image of concern for the community is reinforced if he/she select law firms and legal service providers that reflect that image.