In House

In House - The FindLaw Corporate Counsel Blog


No company likes to lose valuable employees -- given how much it costs to hire, train, and develop employees, pretty much all of them are valuable. What's worse is when a skilled employee leaves to work for the competition. As Chris Brown so eloquently put it, highly skilled professionals ain't loyal.

What's a GC to do? Slip in non-compete clauses and other post-employment restrictions into all employment agreements, of course. However, given recent updates in the law, it might be time to update your standard boilerplate -- or consider revising them all together. Here's what to keep in mind:

If you're an Anglophile or just in-house at a company that does frequent work with the Brits -- either way, you might benefit from becoming a solicitor in England and Wales. Becoming a solicitor (that's English for "attorney") can help you understand the laws and regulations of England and Wales and can even allow you to practice in the United Kingdom, should the need ever arise.

Becoming a solicitor is actually quite feasible. According to Above the Law, a committed in-house attorney could accomplish the task in a matter of months.

Get ready for expanded overtime. In the upcoming month, the Department of Labor is expected to release new Fair Labor Standards Act rules which are expected to greatly expand the number of employees eligible for overtime. The FLSA requires that employees who work more than 40 hours a week be paid time and a half for any overtime.

For decades, that overtime requirement has been applicable only for lower-paid employees. Under the new rules, the salary cap will go up, allowing millions of salaried workers to qualify for overtime for the first time. GCs should be ready for the change.

The St. Louis Cardinals were reportedly caught stealing more than bases from the Houston Astros last week. An employee for the Red Birds allegedly breached the Astros' private database of player information, notes and trade discussions, leading the FBI to announce an investigation into the foul play.

There's plenty of lessons to learn from the Astros' breach, which was less cloak and dagger corporate espionage, and more simple failure to implement basic data protection steps. Here's what in-house counsel needs to know to help prevent their company from falling victim to nefarious MLB franchises -- or anyone else.

Perhaps you have an offer to be a company's first in-house attorney or perhaps you're trying to convince a company that they need to take you on, alone. Can you be a legal department of one? Is there such thing as a solo in-house attorney?

Of course you can and of course there is! In fact, it's fairly common for there to be only one in-house lawyer at many companies.

In-house counsel know how difficult claims of retaliation against whistleblowers can be. Those issues can become even worse when it's a fired in-house lawyer making the retaliation claim.

That's what happened to Sanford Wadler, fired GC for Bio-Rad Laboratories. Wadler claims he was terminated after attempting to report corrupt practices to the company's board. The case raises important questions about how much the attorney can disclose about his former employer and client in order to prove his case.

The Securities and Exchange Commission has charged 36 firms with securities violations connected to the issuance of municipal bonds. Those banks, underwriters of the bonds, will pay between $40,000 to $500,000 for making materially false statements or omissions about the issuer's compliance with disclosure rules.

The enforcement action is the first the SEC has taken under its Municipalities Continuing Disclosure Cooperation Initiative. The MCDC is a voluntary program that allows participating banks to self-report violations in exchange for standardized settlement terms.

The federal government doesn't usually get much praise from privacy advocates. Whether it's the NSA's mass data collection program, or Homeland Security's collection of facial recognition data, there's plenty of skepticism when it comes to the federal government and privacy.

But, if there's one agency that has gained the respect of privacy advocates, it may be the Federal Trade Commission. Over the past decade the FTC has evolved into America's primary "privacy cop," pursuing actions against companies that have fallen short of their privacy promises, violated consumers' privacy rights, or failed to keep sensitive data secure.

We've said it before and we'll say it again: cybersecurity should be on the top of any GC's agenda. Not only is cybersecurity one of the main areas C-suite executives want their legal department to master, the costs of losing sensitive data can be massive, resulting in expensive litigation, loss of proprietary information, and reputation damage.

But how do you protect the data that's in the hand of suppliers, contractors, and the like? Don't worry, the federal government has been figuring that out for you.

Asian American lawyers who gathered in Chicago last year to discuss roadblocks to a career advancement expanded their roundtable program to the West Coast last month. A roundtable event in California's Silicon Valley, focused on Asian American GCs, sought to provide networking opportunities and dialogue about the careers of Asian American in-house attorneys.

The meeting, hosted by the legal consultancy Major, Lindsey and Africa and the firm Shearman and Sterling, brought together both firm and in-house lawyers to discuss career advancement and obstacles.