In House

In House - The FindLaw Corporate Counsel Blog


PayPal, the online payment company owned by Ebay, has agreed to pay $25 million to settle claims stemming from its "Bill Me Later" program. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau had accused PayPal of refusing to honor the advertised terms of its online credit product, signing customers up for credit without their permission, and failing to properly manage its credit and billing system.

Thankfully, PayPal's failure can be your inspiration, as there's plenty to learn from the company's credit debacle.

Maybe you miss the pay of a high performing firm, or you long to return to litigation. Perhaps you've just realized that the General Counsel isn't going to die and leave you the top spot anytime soon. Whatever the reason, you want to go back to firm life.

The good news is, it can be done! Lawyers are increasingly making moves from in-house departments to firm practice. But it's not always an easy transition. Here's some tips to help ease your way:

When you buy a "designer" bag out of the back of a van, you probably realize it's a knockoff. That might not be the case when you purchase a similar bag online, where counterfeit goods can proliferate without the buyer being able to check every monogram, button and zipper to see if the item is the real deal, or just a rip-off.

For companies involved in online markets and e-commerce, and their legal departments, counterfeit goods can cause major headaches. Take Alibaba for example. The enormous Chinese e-commerce company is currently being sued by Kering SA, the enormous French luxury brand company behind Gucci, Yves Saint Laurent and Balenciaga, which alleges Alibaba knowingly traffics in counterfeit goods.

It's quickly approaching summertime, and there's nothing more fun than to throw off the shackles of the office for a day and enjoy the outdoors at the company picnic. (Attendance is mandatory; fun is negotiable.)

Of course, when you bring people into the great outdoors, things will happen. Poison ivy will happen. Injuries will happen. And if there's going to be alcohol at the picnic, well ... look out. Here are some tips for ensuring that your company outing has the least amount of drama possible.

It's a whole new world for the sharing economy, as the Philippines issued new regulations for ride-sharing services such as Uber and Lyft, last week. Though other countries have taken action on ridesharing services -- Uber has been banned everywhere from Eugene, Oregon, to all of Thailand -- the Philippines is the first nation to develop ridesharing specific regulations, according to Reuters.

In an industry that has often operated by bumping up against the margins of the law, the new regulations could help further institutionalize the sharing economy. If successful, they may be a model adopted by other jurisdictions looking to regulate such services.

It's not just telemarketers that are at risk of being sued under the Telephone Consumer Protection Act. Any company that makes customer phone calls, sends texts or faxes faxes could be open to liability under the TCPA. The TCPA prohibits unsolicited advertising by phone, text and fax. It provides $500 to $1,500 for each violation, plus allows for the recovery of lawyer fees and costs.

TCPA lawsuits are a booming business. For a plaintiff's side class action firm, a company's TCPA slip up can be a windfall. There's even apps that help consumers convert unwanted calls straight into lawsuits. Thankfully, a vigilant in-house legal department can help reduce the risks of unexpected TCPA litigation.

While employers have to offer health coverage to full time employees under Obamacare, could it be better to steer them towards Medicaid instead? That's what at least one corporate advisor, writing in Forbes, is arguing.

To be fair, that article's author runs a company which advises employers on how to get public benefits for their workers, so he might not be the most objective. But, he is correct -- certain low-wage workers can qualify for Medicaid in some states, and if they chose it over employer-sponsored health insurance, that could save companies money -- at the public's expense.

A recent survey of directors, board chairs and CEOs sheds new light on the role of general counsel in large corporations. The survey, conducted by the legal recruiting company Barker Gilmore and NYSE Governance Services, reached over 5,000 corporate leaders, though the response rate was not given.

It's filled with valuable insights into the minds of executive teams, who are increasingly looking at general counsel as a valuable part of corporate leadership. Here's some of the lessons in-house counsel can take away:

According to a new study by Baker Hostetler, one of the nation's largest intellectual property focused law firms, most data breaches are caused by human error, not hackers or malware. In a review of over 200 data breach incidents, the firm found employee negligence to be the leading cause of breaches.

That's right -- those Russian hackers are less a threat to your company's security than its own employees, whose negligence or theft was responsible for more than half of all breaches examined.

Your company may not be paying its legal department in bitcoin yet -- and it may never -- but bitcoin technology could soon change the way financial operations work. Nasdaq is currently experimenting with bitcoin's blockchain technology to see if it can speed up trades on its stock market.

Right now, the experiment is limited to a small market for securities in privately held companies. If the project is successful, it could ramp up the speed of securities trades -- potentially transforming the industry. For in house counsel, now's a good time to start taking note of bitcoin.