Organizational culture and workplace practices are under heightened scrutiny, with increased focus from regulators and other stakeholders to ensure a culture of compliance from the top down. Employees are also increasingly seeking alignment with their employers on issues like sustainability and pay equity. Employment and human capital management matters once considered outside the purview of the boardroom are now a critical part of board oversight. Ensuring employment policies and practices are custom fit for an organization and legally compliant are fundamental components of a comprehensive and effective risk reduction compliance program and being prepared to act swiftly in the event of a workplace challenge are paramount to mitigating enterprise-level risks.

Shearman & Sterling’s multidisciplinary Workplace Advisory & Investigations team is experienced in advising boards and management teams on proper oversight of employment and human capital policies and programs, including comprehensive risk reviews, crisis management action plans, workplace and culture investigations, and responding to regulatory or criminal inquiries and whistleblower allegations. We recognize the complex and highly sensitive nature of internal investigations and the need for both a swift and thoughtful process when a complicated situation arises. Our lawyers, including former federal prosecutors, are experienced in handling regulatory or criminal inquiries, as well as dispute resolution through mediation and litigation. Our advice is informed by our clients’ immediate needs and long-term goals, with an eye toward best governance practices and minimizing adverse reputational risk.

We are trusted advisors to some of the world’s leading corporations and financial institutionsand their boards and senior management, empowering them to make well-informed, strategic decisions to navigate situations, prevent regulatory penalties, and minimize legal and reputational risks.

Our capabilities include:

  • Advising boards and their committees on the oversight of employment policies
  • Advising special independent board committees in connection with internal investigations
  • Advising on and designing compliance-based compensation incentives
  • Advising on high-profile executive and other employee transitions, including separations in connection with discrimination and other misconduct allegations
  • Counseling on corporate governance related issues, including implementation of emergency succession protocols, advice regarding leadership transitions and new appointments, and related internal and external disclosures
  • Advising on the design and implementation of clawback policies and the recoupment of compensation
  • Counseling on the use of AI in the workplace, including with respect to hiring practices
  • Advising companies and financial institutions in responding to whistleblower allegations, and conducting investigations of whistleblower allegations, including in the context of significant examinations by the DOJ, SEC, and other regulators
  • Responding to employee complaints of misconduct, harassment and discrimination
  • Analyzing the legality of employment practices, including with respect to restrictive covenants
  • Advising on the development of proper supervision systems for employees and external agent/contractor organizations


Compensation, Governance & ERISA
Financial Institutions Advisory & Financial Regulatory
Privacy & Data Protection
White Collar Defense & Investigations