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Hotline systems and some comments

Some legal problems left in baskets on the doorstep of a law department come from the corporate compliance line. Hotlines, as they are called, generate some wheat for lawyers but mostly chaff. This post offers some snippets I have gathered about help lines.

From a small sample of experience, it seems that many calls are trivial. For example, a large chunk allege favoritism. Relatively small numbers of calls come; at one company they averaged 3-7 per month. Most of the services that handle calls use a template to gather the facts and allegations. One company added a step for themselves, to code each item afterward: “was this a valid complaint?”, and estimated that only half were valid.

Callers can remain anonymous at all companies and some 90 percent or so choose anonymity. If anonymous they get a call back number and call within a week or two to hear what was done. While on the call the person will tell you what to call and when. Some companies create a website to let someone fill in the same information they would have been asked for by a person

A half-dozen posts before this have referred to hotline services (See my post of Dec. 19, 2005: BP hotline for employees; Dec. 31, 2006: ethics hotlines and compliance officers at Raytheon; June 19, 2006: systems that allow employees to report legal and ethical infractions; July 5, 2006: reporting software as a cottage industry; May 8, 2007: McKesson and its ethics hotline, plus third parties who answer hotline calls; and Feb. 13, 2009 #2: ILTA survey on ethics/crisis hotlines.).

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