In House

In House - The FindLaw Corporate Counsel Blog


Verizon Drops $350 Million From Offer to Buy Yahoo Because of Data Breaches

When Yahoo disclosed last year that hackers had compromised 1.5 billion email accounts, Verizon saw a silver lining in the cloud over its offer to buy the company. Let's make that about $350 million worth of silver lining.

Verizon had offered to pay $4.8 billion for Yahoo's core internet business before the data breaches were discovered, but now the parties have agreed to $4.48 billion. According to reports, the deal will go to shareholders for approval in April.

"We have always believed this acquisition makes strategic sense," said Verizon's Marni M. Walden. "We look forward to moving ahead expeditiously so that we can quickly welcome Yahoo's tremendous talent and assets into our expanding portfolio in the digital advertising space."

California's Rights to Privacy and Compliance Programs

California is famous for Hollywood, Disneyland, and the Online Privacy Protection Act.

What? Did you think the Golden State was all fun and games? Californians do more than go to the movies and amusement parks.

In fact, they value the right to privacy so much they enshrined it in Article I of the state constitution. Not even the U.S. Supreme Court could do better in creating a constitutional right to privacy.

"Today, California leads the nation not only as an innovation hub for information technologies, but also with the most comprehensive, stringent and up-to-date information privacy laws," according to excerpts from a privacy practice guide by attorney Lothar Determann.

It's been a rough few weeks for Uber. First, the ride hailing company's mishandling of protests around the president's travel ban launched a #deleteuber campaign that saw thousands canceling their accounts. Then, last Sunday, a former Uber engineer's blog post detailing sexual harassment at the company went viral. Just days later, a New York Times article revealed the "aggressive," "Hobbesian," and potentially law-breaking culture inside Uber's offices.

Can such a culture be fixed?

Kraft-Heinz made a $143 billion bid to takeover Unilever last week. The potential merger would have brought iconic U.S. brands like Jell-O and Velveeta together with Unilever best-sellers like Ben & Jerry's and Knorr's instant pea soup, creating a packaged food powerhouse to rival the world's current biggest food company, Nestle.

The takeover didn't work out, with Kraft withdrawing the offer over the weekend. But, it could be a sign that more food industry mergers are likely in the future.

Does your legal department have an operations professional? If not, it could soon. The legal department operations professional, or LDO, is becoming a key role in many legal departments, according to the 2016 Thomson Reuters Legal Department In-Sourcing and Efficiency Report.

Twenty-one percent of departments have an LDO, according to the report, and that number appears to be growing. As corporate legal departments handle more work in house, with little commensurate growth in resources, an LDO can free up attorneys to focus on legal, rather than operational, tasks.

Concerned with law firm data breaches, more and more in-house lawyers are using encryption to communicate with outside counsel on sensitive matters. The increased focus on email data security comes after a series of reports on law firms being hacked, including, recently, hackers who targeted M&A firms, swiped sensitive information, then made millions on insider trades.

So, should you follow suit?

Is Your eDiscovery Vulnerable to Hacking?

In earthquake-prone California, it's become commonplace for residents to say, "Not if, but when the Big One strikes."

The threat of a massive earthquake hitting Los Angeles has spanned generations -- from Charlton Heston's "Earthquake" to Dwayne Johnson's "San Andreas." But the impact lasts only two weeks at the Box Office, at best. If a quake registers less than 5.0, Californians don't even get out of bed to put their shoes on.

The same can be said for cybersecurity breaches, especially at large companies like Yahoo. If the next email hack doesn't hit 1 billion users, consumers may not even change their passwords.

But for lawyers -- the gatekeepers of confidential information -- this is not the time to sit back and wait for the next big breach. It's not if, but when. This even applies to eDiscovery, which might be the next frontier for hackers.

HP Holds Back Fees to Encourage Diversity

Remember when we were kids, and our parents withheld our allowance or another privilege to compel certain behavior?

Or if you have kids now, and you turn off their cell phone to get across the message that you expect compliance with certain rules?

Well, say hello to some parental persuasion from Hewlett-Packard. Starting now, the rule is: be diverse or lose 10 percent of your fees.

According to Kim Rivera, chief legal officer and general counsel for HP, the company has implemented a "diversity holdback" mandate. "With this we can hold back up to 10 percent of all invoices billed by law firms that do not meet or exceed our minimal diverse staffing requirements," she said in a letter to law firm partners.

ACC Renews 'Value Challenge' to Help Law Departments Reduce Costs

It may not be as eye-popping as the ice bucket challenge for a coach at the end of a game, but then again you're not going to get wet with the corporate counsel "value challenge" and it just might open your eyes to new opportunities.

The Association of Corporate Counsel is continuing its challenge to help law departments reduce costs by re-imagining and better managing resources. Each year, the ACC acknowledges the winners by publishing their stories on its website.

Besides the accolades of industry recognition, the goal of the international challenge is for corporate counsel to: 1) reduce legal spending by 25 percent; 2) promote effective budgeting and fee structures; and 3) have fewer disputes, lower settlements, and faster turnarounds. For these companies, as they say in soccer, goal!!!

You like to get back to colleagues quickly. You don't like things piling up. You're aiming for the legendary "Inbox Zero." So when you get an email, you reply ASAP.

Maybe you shouldn't. Taking a few seconds before clicking a link, opening a file, or hitting reply could keep you from getting hacked.