Can WilmerHale Find Redemption in OpenAI’s Murky Waters


  • The WilmerHale name was tarnished by the university presidents’ coaching scandal.
  • Successfully navigating OpenAI’s case could help it rebuild public trust.
  • This will also help OpenAI’s new board make credible decisions and rebuild employees’ and investors’ faith in the company.

OpenAI’s leadership upheaval may have passed, but investigations are still ongoing to uncover what actually led to the sudden firing of Sam Altman and ultimately restore the public appeal of the AI company.

WilmerHale is the law firm conducting the probe. Other than restoring the credibility of OpenAI, the situation presents the firm with a redemption opportunity after its recent ordeal in coaching two university presidents.

WilmerHale Takes Up OpenAI’s Case

Recall in November, Altman was dismissed as OpenAI’s CEO by the company’s board, which stated he wasn’t “consistently candid” in his communications. 

The situation quickly escalated, with some of the execs and employees threatening to resign in protest against Altman’s removal. After much contest, Altman was reinstated as CEO a few days after, with every original board member, except for one, removed.

While Altman’s return may offer some stability, the episode undoubtedly dealt a blow to OpenAI’s public image.

Early this month, a reconstituted board at OpenAI hired WilmerHale, which specialises in handling high-profile corporate crises, to conduct an investigation of the events.

By uncovering all that transpired, many experts believe that WilmerHale will help OpenAI’s new board make credible decisions and rebuild employees’ and investors’ faith in the company. “Corporate reputation is going to matter for a company like this,” said James Park, a UCLA law professor who teaches corporate governance.

Redemption Opportunity for WilmerHale?

For WilmerHale, OpenAI’s appointment also offers a huge opportunity to mend its public appeal.

A few days before OpenAI hired WilmerHale, the firm had faced criticism for its role in coaching university presidents who later faced congressional scrutiny. It coached Harvard University President Claudine Gay and the University of Pennsylvania President Liz Magill before a congressional hearing about antisemitism on college campuses, according to reports. 

The answers the school leaders provided to the question of whether they would discipline students who called for the genocide of Jews led to intense criticism, with throwing blame on WilmerHale, which prepared them for the testimony.

WilmerHale conducting a successful and objective investigation of OpenAI could serve as a public demonstration of their ethical practices and professionalism. A positive outcome could help them regain public trust.

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Ibiam Wayas

Ibiam is an optimistic crypto journalist. Five years from now, he sees himself establishing a unique crypto media outlet that will breach the gap between the crypto world and the general public. He loves to associate with like-minded individuals and collaborate with them on similar projects. He spends much of his time honing his writing and critical thinking skills.

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