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Despite what you've been hearing for years, email isn't "dead" and it's not "dying." What is happening? Thanks to a bevy of new services, email -- once the universal online communication method -- has a very specific purpose.

The new hotness (which actually isn't that new): chat and instant-messaging programs, which allow employees in the same office to communicate with each other in real-time. There are a lot of different solutions, some corporate, and some not. Should your company try these out?

If there's one department that's the thorn in the side of company employees, it's the IT department. Their answer is always "no" and they make you wait on requests for a long time.

Of course, that's equally true of the legal department, too. With Sarbanes-Oxley being what it is, coupled with the dystopian e-discovery future in which we live, the IT department and the legal department should be best buddies. Whose photo do you have in your heart-shaped locket?

Anthem Blue Cross, one of the nation's largest health insurance providers, revealed yesterday that its computers had been hacked, resulting in access to the records of millions of customers. This information included birthdays, Social Security numbers, addresses, and lots of other data that would be great if you wanted to steal someone's identity.

The Wall Street Journal reported that Anthem didn't encrypt the data that it kept in its own systems, which is really a rookie mistake. Sure, the law didn't require Anthem to encrypt the data, but that's no excuse. If your company is already encrypting data, good for you! You get a sticker. But if the company isn't, it's time to take a walk with the CTO and explain why you should.

Here are three things in-house lawyers should know about encryption:

Whether or not LinkedIn seems like a good idea -- and even if you don't know what you're supposed to be using it for -- in-house lawyers seem to love it. According to a survey by research firm Acritas, 43 percent of female GCs and 33 percent of male GCs are on LinkedIn.

That's a large proportion of GCs -- especially for women. So what's the deal with in-house counsel using LinkedIn so much? Has LinkedIn, as Acritas suggests, become the new "golf course" when it comes to making deals?

From the "if you wrote it down, it's probably discoverable" department comes a ruling from Judge Edward Chen of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California. In September, Chen allowed part of a lawsuit to move forward claiming that Uber's "gratuity" charges are misleading because all of the gratuity doesn't go the driver.

Uber CEO Travis Kalanick fought against disclosing some damning emails, but an order by Chen affirmed the ruling of a magistrate judge ordering their disclosure.

Creepy: Email Scanning System Watches to Predict Data Theft

Data theft and breaches are always a hot topic around here. They are, after all, an in-house attorney's worst nightmare: Lawsuits, lost business, and a whole lot of legal fees will wreak havoc on your bottom line if you have a data leak. But what if there was a way to predict data theft before it happened, a la Tom Cruise's "Minority Report"? Sure, you'd have to worry about outside hackers ruining your day, but at least mutiny and sabotage would be covered.

That's what UBIC's Virtual Data Scientist promises. It has the ability to scan users' email to find common harbingers of data theft, such as complaints about how the company treats them or about one's financial problems, reports PC World. And while the program is currently Japanese-only, it may make it stateside in the near future.

PG&E's Friendly Emails to Regulators: 3 Lessons

Wait, so you're not allowed to send cute, overly familiar emails to the regulatory board that is going to decide how much your company gets dinged for blowing up a bunch of houses and killing some peeps a few years back, demanding that you get a more lenient administrative law judge?

Now you tell me. And now Pacific Gas & Electric knows, after a series of back-and-forth emails detailing a way too close relationship between the utility company and California's Public Utilities Commission (PUC) came to light. Three execs and a top aide at the state agency just served as the sacrificial lambs, while PG&E scurries to "put new procedures in place" before they get slammed by the suddenly less friendly PUC.

Let's see what we can learn from this mess, shall we?

In-House Attorneys' Game Plan for Data Breaches and Cybersecurity

It's one of the hottest topics for in-house counsel, thanks to the countless data debacles over the past few months and years: Target, Neiman Marcus, Barnes & Noble, etc. Companies have sensitive data, hackers break in, and companies respond with mouths agape, including their in-house counsel, who know a lot about law and little to nothing about encryption and best practices.

We're not going to reassure you by saying, "no big deal," because it is a very big deal -- even if you're a technophobe, you need to have a data breach game plan for when the inevitable happens. Scott Vernick, partner at Fox Rothschild LLP, noted that in 2013, 90 percent of companies reported that they'd been hacked, reports Inside Counsel. "There are only two types of companies, those that have been hacked and those that don't know they've been hacked," he stated.

Silicon Valley Anti-Poaching Antitrust Labor Lawsuit Settles

What did the rumors say? $9 billion? Try $324 million, a cheap price for Google, Apple, Intel, and Adobe, who probably would've spent that much on lawyers during the trial, which was only a few weeks away.

It smells like a nuisance settlement, which is extremely curious considering the now-public smoking gun emails between the companies' executives and the length of the conspiracy, which stretched on for years. The backroom agreements finally ended in 2010 when the Department of Justice intervened, but for years, the biggest employers in Silicon Valley conspired to depress wages. Now, they'll walk away for about $5,000 per head, assuming the settlement is approved by the court.

Legal process outsourcing is a growing trend, according to, as it "is emerging as a lower cost and fast growing alternative to the traditional model," (they even have an snazzy infographic to prove it). Has your company used legal process outsourcing? Interested? Here are some basics on determining whether legal process outsourcing is right for your company.

Why Use Legal Process Outsourcing?

The main reason to use legal process outsourcing is cost. According to Corporate Counsel's informal online survey it conducted last year on the legal process outsourcing industry, of the companies utilizing outsourcing, 68% chose to do so "to reduce costs." In fact, of the companies they interviewed, all had started outsourcing after the downturn. Other reasons to outsource legal process are to save time, manage risk, and create efficiencies, according to Infosys.