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In our connected times, both serious news and gossip travel at the speed of social media. When tragedy or scandal strikes a company, if that company isn't prepared to manage its reputation, there could be severe consequences. Think Steve Wynn and the $2 billion bad day.

And though a company can't predict if or when it will face the wrath of scorned social media users, it can certainly be prepared to take action. Below, you can find three tips to help GCs handle corporate reputational risks.

When a C-Suite Sues, What's a GC to Do?

It was the worst of times. Period.

That's because it's hard to talk about the best of times when your executive officer has a legal issue with the company. It's really a problem when the C-Suite complains to the company attorney.

And if they sue, it only gets worse. That's when general counsel has to put down the easy reading and look at the hard rules.

What to Do When the Company Has a Credibility Problem

For successful relationships, it's a basic rule that trust is paramount.

If you don't trust your partner, basically you have a weak relationship. It's true in personal and business relationships, too.

So what do you do when your company has a credibility problem with customers? Here's how some big businesses are dealing with it.

Make Sure Your Company Has Comprehensive D&O Insurance Coverage

It is a little awkward, but sometimes you have to ask: "Do you have protection?"

Of course, we're talking about liability insurance for the board. It could protect against much more embarrassing questions later, such as: "What are your personal assets?"

These questions are just as important in the boardroom as any other room. If you are the company attorney, it's your job to ask them.

Look Below the Surface to Avoid Public Relations Disaster

It may be noble for a captain to go down with the ship, but general counsel can do better than that -- especially when the company hits the crisis stage.

It takes more than teaching people how to use lifeboats, however. If you want to avoid a reputational catastrophe, teach your crew how to watch for warning signs.

The Titanic is an old metaphor for unexpected failure, but the real story lies below the surface. If you are focusing only on the tip of the iceberg, you may be headed for a public relations disaster.

Xerox Loses CEO Over Lawsuit Settlement

It was a clash of titans that left Xerox without a head and the company teetering in the balance.

Jeff Jacobsen, the embattled chief executive officer, resigned under pressure from major shareholders who sued to block a proposed merger. A judge enjoined the merger with Fujifilm, saying Jacobson was "hopelessly conflicted" because he pushed the deal to save his job.

Carl Icahn, the billionaire investor, won the battle for control of the struggling company. But as it sometimes goes in mythology, time will tell whether the legend endures.

Panasonic and its subsidiary Panasonic Avionics Corporation are taking a combined hit of approximately $280 million thanks to the subsidiary's bad bookkeeping leading to the publicly traded parent's bad bookkeeping.

The hybrid criminal-civil matter sought to penalize the companies for hiding payments made to alleged consultants, at least one of whom was a foreign official. The subsidiary's payments were recorded as payments to consultants, which, compounded by other shady subsidiary dealings, caused Panasonic to file inaccurate disclosures to the SEC and investors.

California Bill Mandates Women Be Included on Corporate Boards

California lawmakers want more women on corporate boards, and if their law passes it would turn corporate boardrooms completely around in the state.

According to studies, California has more boardrooms without women than anywhere else in the United States. Hannah-Beth Jackson, who co-authored the pending legislation, wants to change all that.

"They are operating without the benefit of the experience, perspective, and tools that women bring with them to the boardroom," she told Bloomberg. The bill could become the first law of its kind in the country.

Signs of an Incompetent Business Leader

Incompetent business leaders have defining characteristics.

Here are some samples: they can't make decisions; they make bad choices; they are out of touch.

They are also easy to spot; just turn on the nightly news. If only they were as easy to deal with. Short of going elsewhere, here are some ideas:

Elon Musk's Divorce Lawyer Is His GC at Tesla

When should the in-house attorney handle a divorce for the company's chief executive officer?

Like never, unless the CEO is Elon Musk. That's a fact, not an opinion. Musk's divorce attorney is also general counsel for Tesla.

As every lawyer knows, there are potential conflicts galore in that scenario. But if you can get around them, should you even try?