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It's not about the size of the company -- it's about the culpability and level of misconduct during the subprime mortgage bubble that preceded the 2008 financial crisis. That's the message the Department of Justice is sending after today's settlement with Citigroup.

While the company opened negotiations with a $363 million offer, and the DOJ demanded $12 billion, the approximately $7 billion deal struck is this: a $4 billion civil penalty paid to the Justice Department, $500 million paid to the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. and several states. The bank will also allocate $2.5 billion for "consumer relief," such as modifying mortgages for struggling homeowners and financing affordable multi-family rental housing.

We got fee-shifting, thanks to the Supreme Court. And the Innovation Act passed the House ... before it hit a dead end in the Senate.

Well, here's another one to keep patent reform advocates satiated in the meantime: curbing abusive demand letters. The Targeting Rogue and Opaque Letters Act (TROL Act) would target patent troll letters that, in most instances, are frivolous demands for settlements with no legal merits.

Ideas for curbing frivolous demand letters were considered and left out of the Innovation Act, as that bill's sponsor, Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.), noted that it would be difficult to balance speech interests, and legitimate defense of intellectual property, with a law that restricts demand letters.

Congratulations: Your closely held corporation is a person. And when it comes to religious beliefs, that fictional person, it seems, takes after its figurative parents -- its closely held owners.

What does the Supreme Court's landmark Hobby Lobby ruling mean for your company, your religious beliefs, and your requirement to provide either contraceptive coverage or insurance coverage for other services that run contrary to your beliefs?

Depending on the level of accommodation you're requesting, you may only need to fill out a form or send a letter, though for objections to anything other than contraception, you may be forced to litigate.

The nation's fastest growing cell phone carrier is about to meet the Federal Trade Commission in a courtroom, and the fallout could be more than a few fines -- the PR hit from allegedly cramming bogus fees on customers' bills could cost the company dearly.

The FTC announced earlier this week that it filed a complaint [PDF] against T-Mobile, accusing it of knowingly passing along unauthorized fraudulent third-party charges to consumers, while taking a thirty-five to forty percent cut. The charges would be hidden in bills that were dozens of pages long, and the refund rate was only 40 percent, according to the agency.

For those hoping for a stunning reversal of pro-Environmental Protection Agency rulings from the Supreme Court, well, it hasn't happened yet, and doesn't seem like it will any time soon.

Yesterday, the nation's High Court mostly reaffirmed prior holdings that upheld the EPA's ability to regulate greenhouse gasses, but narrowed that power just a bit, by striking down the agency's "tailoring rule," as an agency's overstep into rewriting its enabling statute, the Clean Air Act.

What companies are left with is this: if your emissions are already regulated, the EPA is well within its rights to limit the amount of greenhouse gases that you produce -- which is pretty much exactly what the EPA was aiming for.

Privacy policies. They're a thing of beauty, aren't they?

Most are jargon-filled nonsense that you'd need a law degree and intimate familiarity with the latest data privacy and tracking trends just to get the overall gist. Then again, nobody reads them anyway, nor do they read companies' Terms of Service or other shrinkwrap licenses. And almost nobody knows about data mining and the failed "Do Not Track" (DNT) standard.

The truth is, most online companies play some part in data mining for advertising purposes, either directly (Google) or indirectly (embedded third-party advertising networks). There's a saying: you either pay for the product, or you are the product.

Executives have been axed. Thirty-five million dollar fines have been imposed. Lawsuits have been filed. And legal reinforcements have been called in to make arguments in bankruptcy court about New GM's liability for Old GM's defective ignition switches.

Legally, it's a nightmare (unless you are outside counsel). And the nightmare is about to get worse for GM's legal department as federal investigators turn their attention to the company's in- house attorneys, who quietly settled a series of cases, refused to turn over documents, and either refused to investigate or kept a lid on the defective ignition switches that have led to at least thirteen deaths, possibly hundreds of accidents, and millions of recalled vehicles.

Net neutrality: those words have swirled in and out of headlines for the past couple of years, but what do they really mean?

It's a principle, one that means that no legal Internet traffic is prioritized or demoted over other traffic. Internet Service Providers don't filter or promote websites or content by restricting data speeds or access. In times past, the argument was whether ISPs could restrict the amount of bandwidth used by data-hungry services, like Netflix or Bittorrent. Now, it's the reverse question: can they take bribes to give services priority bandwidth.

Today, the FCC announced that it was moving forward with its latest proposed rules, which don't explicitly authorize "fast lane" prioritization, but don't explicitly ban it either. The Internet, as expected, is responding with a wide variety of protests.

Creativity. Innovation. These aren't adjectives that are typically applied to lawyers, and for good reason: we're not Picassos, Hemmingways, or even code wizards like ten-years-ago Zuckerberg.

But in-house lawyers are involved in innovation: you can invent the next big thing, but if the IP isn't protected, it'll only be valuable until a bigger, stronger company steals the idea. You can build the next great product, until your team flees for a different company. You can challenge the status quo -- until a regulatory war grinds your progress to a halt.

Corporate counselors may not be the artists, but they make the artists' work possible, and profitable, in these three ways:

If there was any fear of the Food and Drug Administration on the part of the e-cigarette industry, those companies are now breathing a massive sigh of relief, while pro-regulation consumer groups are muttering in frustration.

The "vaper" industry has grown into a multi-billion dollar market over the last few years in the absence of regulation, and over the last year, the roaring rumors of impending regulation by the FDA have intensified greatly, with some speculating that the devices could soon reach the same level of restrictions as traditional cigarettes.

Instead, the FDA's proposed regulations, published late last week, are but a mere whimper.