In House: Corporate Financing & Financial Services Archives
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Last week, the United States went back to the Second Circuit to ask for a rehearing in United States v. Newman, where that court overturned the convictions of two hedge fund managers for trading on inside information.

The Second Circuit rejected Newman and Chiasson's convictions on a "tipper/tippee" theory of liability, prompting onlookers to urge Congress to clarify what the heck qualifies as insider trading.

Back in October, we posted about JP Morgan and the DOJ's tentative settlement, and yesterday, a $13 billion settlement was finalized, and announced, reports The New York Times.

As one banking analyst stated to the Los Angeles Times, "[b]efore the crisis, Big Brother was asleep on the couch ... Now Big Brother is coming back with a vengeance."

One of the main reasons you left BigLaw and became in-house counsel was so you could get away from the infamous billable hours. But, increasingly, corporations are looking for ways to measure the performance of their legal departments.

As the ACC stated: "You can't manage what you can't measure." Since what we're really talking about is cost control and management -- it can be divided in two general areas: spending and matters.

Does your company offer a finder's fee for locating investors? If so, you may find that your finder's fee agreement may not be enforceable, a new article at Inside Counsel warns.

Companies that seek to raise money through a private securities offering routinely dole out finder's fees, attorney Randy Johnson writes for Inside Counsel. Finder's fees are usually determined by how much money the finder's efforts bring in for the company.

But a legal issue arises when the finder is not properly licensed as a broker-dealer. In that case, the finder's fee agreement "is an illegal contract and is likely unenforceable," Johnson writes for Inside Counsel.

In-House Lawyer, Patent Agent Pleads Guilty to Insider Training

Insider-trading can make you rich. And, oh yes, it can also just as easily land you in jail. Haven't we all learned how well the whole "greed is good" thing worked out for from Gordon Gekko on "Wall Street?"

An in house attorney in San Diego apparently did not.

Alternative Fee Arrangements Becoming More Popular

Billable hours are still king of the castle when it comes to law firm billing. Alternative fee arrangements, however, are increasing in popularity for a variety of reasons, according to The Metropolitan Corporate Counsel. The alternative billing scheme can be a benefit to both a firm and clients.

Some 56% of in-house counsel polled in a recent survey responded that alternative fee arrangements may be here to stay. Why? Because they often provide a more predictable measure of costs to clients. Although this may not necessarily translate into savings for a client (or losses for a firm), it can serve to keep business coming in -- a welcome sign for many firms hit hard by the recession.

Hildebrandt Survey Shows Recessionary Effects on In-House Counsel

Unless you are finishing up a two-year corporate counsel stint at a remote company in rural Antarctica, you are probably pretty well-versed in the language of the recession that has taken hold of news headlines, board-room meetings, and dinner-table conversations.  Scaling back, laying offflat-fee billing, in-house eDiscovery ---these have been the recent buzz words in legal departments across nation.

Well, now there are a few numbers to back up the in-house recessionary fodder.  Hildebrandt International has released its annual Hildebrandt Law Department Survey, which provides benchmarking data for U.S. and global law departments. 

Old GM, Meet the New GM

It's been a while since I posted anything on the GM bankruptcy, and the hiatus has been completely deliberate.  With so much news and speculation swirling around the proceedings, it would be easy to let the affair completely take the blog over.

But yesterday's opinion from the bankruptcy court judge definitely deserves a post, especially since one of the key points in the opinion deals with the disposition of injury lawsuits against the company.

Madoff Gets 150 Years for "Evil" Ponzi Scheme

Bernard Madoff will be spending the rest of his life in prison.  Earlier today, the King of Ponzi was sentence to the maximum possible term of 150 years for defrauding his clients out of billions.

The harsh sentence renders the request by Madoff's attorney, Ira Lee Sorkin, for a twelve year term almost laughable. 

The judge called Madoff's crimes "extraordinarily evil."  Now, I was never a litigator, but I'm pretty sure that's never a good sign.

Madoff did apologize to his victims, for whatever that's worth.  At this point, though, I'm pretty sure that they don't give a damn how sorry he is.

Obviously, the 71 year-old Madoff won't be serving the full sentence, but the judge said that it was necessary in order to deter others from running the same kind of Ponzi schemes.

So let this be a lesson for in house counsel that you can pass along to the heads of your companies: apologizing is nice and all, but not stealing the money in the first place is probably the better strategy.

See Also:
Bernard Madoff gets maximum 150 years in prison (AP)
Madoff's 150-Year Sentence: Long But Not Longest (WSJ Law Blog)
Breaking: Madoff Sentenced to 150 Years (Above the Law)

Bernanke to Congress: I Am Not a Bully

Testifying on Capitol Hill today, Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke told a House committee that he didn't put the screws to Bank of America executives in order to force them to acquire Merrill Lynch.

That deal wound up costing taxpayers $20 million, and Bank of America CEO Kenneth Lewis stated that the Treasury Secretary at the time, Henry Paulson, and other federal regulators threatened his job after he expressed doubts about the deal.  Bernanke told the committee that he was not involved in any such intimidation.

Bernanke also denied that he or any other member of the Fed had instructed BoA to cover up information about Merrill's deep financial troubles, arguing that failing to disclose that information would have violated the executives' fiduciary duty to the company's shareholders.

In addition, Bernanke defended the deal as necessary to avoid a complete meltdown of the financial system at a time when Lehman Brothers had just collapsed and lending was essentially frozen.