In House

In House - The FindLaw Corporate Counsel Blog


Want to Be a General Counsel? Try Texas!

Welcome to the world of in-house counsel, the attorney who lives inside a company as one of its employees, advising and representing it. Did you go to the right law school for this? If you went to Harvard Law School, then you're well on your way.

Harvard, though, isn't your only option. Other top law schools send their graduates in-house, as well. For example, have you considered The Lone Star State? University of Texas, Austin ranks #5 in terms of sending its graduates in-house. UT School of Law ranks #15 on U.S. News and World Report's list of the best law schools -- nothing to sniff at -- but is among the biggest providers of in-house counsel. What gives?

Last week we had one of the worst days of news in recent history. The ongoing Israeli conflict in Gaza, and the downed Malaysian Airlines flight 17 put front and center what we often try to forget: there are world conflicts that persist and life in other countries is not as safe as it can be here.

While we're insulated in our corporate cubes and offices, you may think that outside of news, these global crises don't have an impact on us. But you're wrong. Every world crisis can be a potential corporate crisis if you don't take the following steps.

Earlier this week, Corporate Counsel released the results of its 2014 GC Compensation Survey, which lists the top 100 (with caveats) best-paid general counsel. And while we all know that GCs make a lot of money, when you actually see the figures, I assure you, your jaw will drop.

So here goes, let's all turn green with envy picture what we would do with $5 million as we take a look at the survey results.

The sight of toddlers and children with tablets and smart phones is pretty common these days -- even I'm guilty -- sometimes technology is the only thing that will curb a meltdown (if only that were true of adults). And, any parent probably has their own story about how their child managed to purchase apps (or movies on demand, in my case). How the kids manage to figure this out is a mystery.

Well, parents will have one less thing to worry about because the FTC is taking up one of their causes: unauthorized in-app charges, reports Inside Counsel.

More than a year later, Apple has finally taken a judge's advice and settled its long-running e-books price-fixing antitrust case -- pending further appeals. On the eve of the damages trial, Apple settled with the government for $450 million, $400 million of which goes to consumers. However, the settlement is conditioned on Apple not losing its appeals, appeals which could reduce the settlement to $70 million or, if Apple gets truly lucky, nothing at all.

That last part seems unlikely, however. If you recall, the government had a ton of evidence, including emails from the late Steve Jobs. The evidence was so compelling that the trial judge warned Apple, on the eve of the merits trial, that it would be best to settle.

Earlier this month, the Supreme Court granted cert in a pregnancy discrimination case to determine whether the Pregnancy Discrimination Act ("PDA") requires employers who make accommodations for people with short-term disabilities to make the same accommodations for pregnant workers.

A mere two weeks later, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission issued new guidelines related to pregnancy discrimination, reports The Washington Post. Let's take a closer look at the coincidental timing, the new guidelines, and what this means for your company.

Stop me if you've heard this one: tech company's Chinese supplier is caught violating labor laws.

Okay, don't actually stop me. Keep reading. That's better.

This time, it's Samsung. Shortly after announcing an "all clear" in its recent internal labor audit, at least in regards to child labor (there were plenty of other violations, of course), the company is doing a double-take after a watchdog allegedly found multiple instances of Chinese children working for a supplier using fake IDs.

It's not about the size of the company -- it's about the culpability and level of misconduct during the subprime mortgage bubble that preceded the 2008 financial crisis. That's the message the Department of Justice is sending after today's settlement with Citigroup.

While the company opened negotiations with a $363 million offer, and the DOJ demanded $12 billion, the approximately $7 billion deal struck is this: a $4 billion civil penalty paid to the Justice Department, $500 million paid to the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. and several states. The bank will also allocate $2.5 billion for "consumer relief," such as modifying mortgages for struggling homeowners and financing affordable multi-family rental housing.

A federal district judge has preliminarily approved a settlement in a class action, in which plaintiffs allege that J.Crew violated Massachusetts law by collecting zip codes at check out. While that case is wrapping up, another, involving UPS is heating up as the Supreme Court granted cert to hear the case in the 2014 term.

Let's take a look at the issues in the case, which incidentally, affect most companies operating today.

We got fee-shifting, thanks to the Supreme Court. And the Innovation Act passed the House ... before it hit a dead end in the Senate.

Well, here's another one to keep patent reform advocates satiated in the meantime: curbing abusive demand letters. The Targeting Rogue and Opaque Letters Act (TROL Act) would target patent troll letters that, in most instances, are frivolous demands for settlements with no legal merits.

Ideas for curbing frivolous demand letters were considered and left out of the Innovation Act, as that bill's sponsor, Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.), noted that it would be difficult to balance speech interests, and legitimate defense of intellectual property, with a law that restricts demand letters.