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President Obama signed the Defend Trade Secrets Act into law last week, giving powerful new tools to companies looking to protect their trade secrets from misappropriations.

The act adds two major weapons to the corporate legal arsenal: a federal cause of action for trade secrets theft and a civil seizure mechanism that gives the act some serious bite. But it also places new requirements on employers. Here's what in-house counsel should know.

The past few years have seen a major change in public attitudes towards and legal protections for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender individuals. Last year, gay rights advocates won a stunning victory in the Supreme Court, as the Court recognized a constitutional right to marriage equality. This week, the Obama administration squared off against North Carolina, over the legal protections afforded transgender individuals.

These changes have a significant effect on the workplace, requiring updated policies or leading to new anti-discrimination suits, for example. Here's what in-house counsel need to know.

North Carolina has faced a significant backlash since it adopted House Bill 2, a law meant to force transgender individuals to use the bathroom of their birth gender, rather than the gender they identify with. PayPal cancelled plans to expand to Charlotte, Lionsgate and A+E have refused to film in the state, and last week, the Department of Justice warned that the law violated the civil rights of transgender people, which could cost North Carolina millions in federal funds.

Now, the North Carolina is back on the offensive. Governor Pat McCrory filed suit against the DOJ this morning, calling the DOJ's warning a "radical reinterpretation" of the law and asking for court's to declare it legally sound.

No one likes to be fired and few people like to fire others. But if the firing is tough, the resulting litigation can be tougher. For, as inevitable as terminations are in the business world, they're also often fodder for lawsuits.

As in-house counsel, you can have a role in reducing firing-related litigation and making sure terminations are done right. To help, here's our top firing tips, from the FindLaw archives.

HIPAA Violations Cost HCPs Big, but In-House Can Help

Health care providers collectively are holding their breath following last month's $1.55 million settlement agreement between Minnesota's North Memorial Health Care and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Civil Rights (OCR). Soon all the oxygen was sucked out of the room following an even bigger settlement with New York's Feinstein Institute. What is a health care provider to do?

Even though hindsight is 20/20, compliance departments and in-house counsel would do well to peruse their agreement contracts with company contractors. A change might be just what the doctor ordered.

The founder and CEO of Sam Adams wants his employees to tell him, "F*** you" -- except without the asterisks. Under the F You Rule, "it's okay to say f*** you to anybody else in the company," CEO Jim Koch explains. The rule is just one of the "business lessons learned over a beer or two" he covers in his new book.

So, should other companies follow suit? Can you start tossing expletives around the office without opening yourself up to legal issues?

Women In-House Lawyers Make 15 Percent Less Than Men, Study Finds

According to Canada's Canadian Corporate Counsel Association and Counsel Network, female in-house lawyers are earning about 15 percent less than their average randomly selected male colleagues. The results of the survey were reported by Canadian Lawyer magazine.

But the numbers can hardly qualify as news. The fifteen percent number was apparently evident about four years ago.

No company likes to lose its valuable employees to the competition. But there are things you can do to help increase employee retention. Keeping workers engaged and satisfied is your best bet, but it's common to make use of non-compete clauses and other post-employment restrictions as well.

But, because non-competes are, well, a bit anti-competitive, they have to be crafted with care, if they're going to withstand scrutiny. Here's our best strategies to help you out, from the FindLaw archives.

In early April, the Department of Labor issued its long-awaited final rules for financial advisors handling retirement accounts. And you don't have to work for a large investor for the rules to affect you. We all, after all, have a 401(k) or IRA. And now the rules governing how advisors handle those accounts -- worth trillions of dollars -- are a bit more complicated.

Here's what you need to know.

EEOC Assists Small Businesses That Can't Afford Lawyers

As any corporate lawyer knows, compliance can be a major business expense -- one so big that many businesses simply shoot first and pray for the best. The fact that federal employment and discrimination laws are so expansive means guaranteed job security for corporate lawyers.

But last month, the EEOC released a single page fact sheet that helps small start-ups get compliant quickly without the help of lawyers. Corporate lawyers may commence grumbling.