It was bad enough when the Mexican fast-food chain was linked to a rash of E.coli, salmonella and norovirus  incidents which popped up across the United States at the end of 2015. It was in the news for days, weeks. A month.

CEO Steve Ells went to the media and offered his sincere apology and outlined what the company would do to prevent such a recurrence. The company’s stock was thrashed about and sunk, which was not a surprise. But Ells did the right thing.

And yet, there’s more.

On January 6, the company reported it had received a subpoena which was part of an investigation into another norovirus outbreak in August 2015 in California. And on January 8, a lawsuit was filed by a stockholder who claims that public statements about the approach it took to matters of public health – very, very seriously – were false or exaggerated.

What’s a CEO to do? What’s the owner of any business supposed to do?

Late last year, I wrote about crisis communication and how important it is to, first, have a plan that will address the information needs and questions of every stakeholder group. The information needs to be honest, and the information needs to be shared and distributed quickly and without delay.  Those first 48 hours are key.

That still stands. Of course. But sometimes, this advice is ignored. CEOs, presidents and the people in “legal” get skittish.

So I was delighted to find a lawyer – oh, yes, a lawyer, a food safety lawyer – who I think has absolutely spot-on counsel for the agents in this case and every other crisis. And his advice is in line with strong and effective crisis communications counsel.

His name is Bill Marler and he wrote about “Chipotle’s Terrible, Horrible, No-good, Very-bad — Months” in Forbes Magazine [http://onforb.es/1UHNwaI].

Bill offers 12 very important recommendations and they’re all logical, reasonable and make good sense. The first one, he says, is to “Park the ego.” The second? Be as open as possible. Now. Should have been earlier, much earlier, but do it now. Go. Speak. Check out the rest of his column. It is excellent.

Every business should have legal counsel as smart as Bill Marler. He gets it. And every public relations and communications professional I know would, from what he says in the column, like to work with Bill, too.

We PR people don’t say that often about lawyers. But given what he wrote and expressed so well, it’d be a pleasure to work with someone like Bill.