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Federal agencies, that fourth branch of government, have been increasing regulation and enforcement actions in the past years, expanding readings of federal employment laws, targeting individual corporate officers, and even inching closer and closer to institutions once considered "too big to jail." And as government enforcement becomes increasingly robust, many old lessons are starting to change.

To help you stay on top of it all, here are our top pieces on recent government litigation and enforcement trends, from the FindLaw archives.

Do your protective orders, settlement agreements, and confidentiality provisions constrain information that might otherwise be reported to the government? Well, the feds would like you to knock it off.

In March, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration became the newest federal agency to bar gag provisions and confidentiality requirements that might prohibit information gained in litigation from being shared with the federal government. NHTSA now joins the SEC and OSHA in barring gag clauses and anti-whistleblowing provisions.

DC Mayor Muriel Bowser All But Kills Mega-Energy Merger of Pepco-Exelon

It looks like the very expensive deal that was set to create the nation's largest utility just about got killed thanks to some rather unexpected developments in which District of Columbia mayor Muriel Bowser withdrew her support, according to the Associated Press. The proposal is "not in the public interest," said she.

Bowser and other interested parties are facing a ticking clock. The general skeleton of a new deal must be fleshed out by March 11. And with $250 million already in the hole, Exelon is unlikely to take this bump in the road lying down.

On January 16th, the International Atomic Energy Agency verified that Iran had met its nuclear commitments to the United States and Europe. With that, years of economic sanctions against Iran were suddenly relaxed.

But if your business is rushing to open its first office in Tehran, you'll want to tell them to slow down. Here are three things you need to know about doing business with Iran, post-sanctions.

The Paris climate accords, agreed to in December by 195 nations, are one of the largest economic and environmental policy advancements in recent decades. The accords marked the first time that all countries have agreed to reduce climate change causing greenhouse emissions. The accords also committed nations to a global temperature rise of 3.6 degrees, just enough to avoid the worst effects of climate change.

The impact of businesses can be seen throughout the accords, and we're not talking climate change denying fossil fuel companies here. Instead, large businesses were immensely supportive of climate action -- though not as supportive as some civil society groups would want. Here's the impact big business had on the climate accords.

The Department of Justice filed its first charges against Volkswagen on Monday. In a civil complaint filed in the Eastern District of Michigan, the Justice Department alleges that Volkswagen repeatedly and illegally violated the Clean Air Act by installing "defeat devices" on its so-called clean diesel vehicles. Those devices allowed the cars to cheat emissions tests and release air pollution at much higher rates than allowed under the Clean Air Act.

The case could lead to civil fines of costing tens of billions of dollars. But that's just the opening salvo in the government's response to the VW emissions scandal and does not foreclose the possibility of criminal charges against Volkswagen executives sometime in the near future.

Intellectual Property Highlights From the TPP Text

The full text of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) Agreement was released November 5, 2015. It was many years in the running -- seven years, basically -- but the masterpiece is finally available for public scrutiny. The Agreement extends its tentacles into approximately 40 percent of the world's annual GDP and almost 1 billion people's lives. Obviously, businesses are some of its greatest proponents.

In-house counsel hate California. It's not our towering redwoods, sunny beaches, or booming economy that turns corporate attorneys off, of course. It's the difficulty of doing business. Sixty-five percent of in-house respondents complained about the "burdensome" nature of working in California in a recent Archer Norris poll. More than half expressed concern over state regulations.

Of course, there are a few things in-house counsel do that make working in the Bear Republic even more unbearable, particularly when it comes to corporate filings. Here are some common errors and how to avoid them, both in the Golden State and beyond.

EU Safe Harbor Ruling: Implications for Businesses

When the Austrian student Max Schrems brought his grievances to the Irish authorities, it's doubtful he could have foreseen this ruling by the European Court of Justice.

The ECJ recently concluded that the Safe Harbor Agreement was invalid because it subordinated individuals' privacy concerns beneath "national security, public interest or law enforcement."

It's the largest regional trade agreement in history, encompassing 12 Pacific Rim nations, 800 million people, and 40 percent of global GDP. It took years of negotiations and a special act of Congress before terms of the Trans-Pacific Partnership could be finalized on Monday.

The TPP could significantly change how business is done from the Straight of Magellan to Kuala Lumpur. That is, if it makes it through. The agreement faces strong opposition from environmentalists, unions, human rights advocates, and, as of Wednesday afternoon, Hillary Clinton. Here's what you need to know about the TPP: