One of the benefits of social media and electronic communications is that they give a public voice to those who might not otherwise have one. Those same tools, however, can cause headaches for businesses, which are often conflicted between embracing their employees’ right to express themselves and ensuring that those expressions do not harm the company. As Google’s recent experience shows, in today’s world there is little a company can do to prevent rogue employees from broadcasting their views. The important thing, instead, is how companies respond.
Until recently, a law firm wouldn’t think twice about working for a sitting U.S. president, members of his cabinet, or an executive branch agency. Such an engagement would be a feather in the cap of any firm—one to be bragged about, subtly or otherwise. But times change, and among the many norms that the 45th president has threatened to turn on its head is the reputational effect of being associated with the White House.