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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.

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 Staff.com, 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.

Last week, we talked eDiscovery and the sanctions that make the process an absolute nightmare for companies and their in-house legal departments. The advisory committee is considering revising Rule 37(e) to make sanctions less prevalent, more predictable, and only available where there is willful or intentional misconduct and the requesting party suffered prejudice as a result or, the requesting party was deprived of an opportunity to present or defend its claims.

We gave you the text of the rule, as well as the case against it. Today, let's look a bit more at the case for the rule, and some proposed alterations by the Association of Corporate Counsel (ACC).

The present-day version of Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 37(e) contains a safe harbor for routine, good faith destruction of electronically stored information (ESI). "Whoops. We deleted it per our regularly-scheduled maintenance. Our bad."

Even with that safe harbor, however, companies find themselves adopting overbroad preservation measures to ensure that they will avoid sanctions, a situation exacerbated by inconsistent law across the states. In some cases, the potential penalties are so severe that companies settle just to avoid the possibility of sanctions.

Last year, the Advisory Committee recommended the replacement of Rule 37(e) with a new version, one that is intended to limit the circumstances in which sanctions can be ordered.

What's the proposed rule? And will it help?

Have you outsourced your document review, due diligence, compliance paperwork, or other repetitive tasks that make you want to slam your face through a plate glass window?

Depending on who you ask, legal process outsourcing (LPO) is either growing, or stagnating. A survey late last year claimed that LPO growth had slowed, and while LPO revenues exceeded $1 billion in 2012, that was far less than the $2.4 billion that had been expected.

Yesterday, a different survey was released, and it painted a slightly sunnier picture for LPO providers, with 80 percent of in-house counsel respondents saying that they expected the LPO industry to expand and improve its services over the next five years.

5 Ways In-House Counsel Can Improve Vendor Cybersecurity

As the details of Target's massive data breach begin to emerge, the focus is beginning to shift to vendors. According to The Wall Street Journal, it seems the Target hackers breached the chain's security systems by using electronic credentials stolen from a vendor.

For in-house counsel, the immense breach highlights the need for companies to create a robust security system that extends to vendors and other interconnected business relations.

Here are five ways in-house counsel can improve their company's vendor cybersecurity:

Survey Finds Corporate Board Communications Pose Security Risks

Keeping in step with the mantra that "you are your own worst enemy," a new Thomson Reuters survey reveals that corporate board members present security risks to the company.

The Thomson Reuters annual Board Governance survey -- which gleans its results from more than 125 general counsel and company secretaries across a wide-ranging cross-section of industries and geographies globally -- shows that corporate board communications present genuine security risks.

Here are a few of the survey's main highlights:

3 Ethics Issues In-House Counsel Regularly Face

Traversing tricky ethical boundaries comes with the territory of an in-house counsel gig. Though in-house attorneys can often turn to their GCs to guide them in the right direction, it's also important to have an independently firm grasp of ethics rules.

Here are three common ethics issues in-house counsel face:

While we at FindLaw have done a fine job of addressing corporate social media policy as it relates to employees, we have not yet spoken to creating a social media policy as it relates to your company's marketing and advertising.

A recent article in the ACC Docket magazine brought to light various issues that corporate counsel need to consider when it comes to advertising via social media. We've distilled the tips into four easy steps to help you craft an advertising social media policy.