In House: Practice Tips, Services & Events Archives
In House - The FindLaw Corporate Counsel Blog

Recently in Practice Tips, Services & Events Category

California's Rights to Privacy and Compliance Programs

California is famous for Hollywood, Disneyland, and the Online Privacy Protection Act.

What? Did you think the Golden State was all fun and games? Californians do more than go to the movies and amusement parks.

In fact, they value the right to privacy so much they enshrined it in Article I of the state constitution. Not even the U.S. Supreme Court could do better in creating a constitutional right to privacy.

"Today, California leads the nation not only as an innovation hub for information technologies, but also with the most comprehensive, stringent and up-to-date information privacy laws," according to excerpts from a privacy practice guide by attorney Lothar Determann.

Concerned with law firm data breaches, more and more in-house lawyers are using encryption to communicate with outside counsel on sensitive matters. The increased focus on email data security comes after a series of reports on law firms being hacked, including, recently, hackers who targeted M&A firms, swiped sensitive information, then made millions on insider trades.

So, should you follow suit?

ACC Renews 'Value Challenge' to Help Law Departments Reduce Costs

It may not be as eye-popping as the ice bucket challenge for a coach at the end of a game, but then again you're not going to get wet with the corporate counsel "value challenge" and it just might open your eyes to new opportunities.

The Association of Corporate Counsel is continuing its challenge to help law departments reduce costs by re-imagining and better managing resources. Each year, the ACC acknowledges the winners by publishing their stories on its website.

Besides the accolades of industry recognition, the goal of the international challenge is for corporate counsel to: 1) reduce legal spending by 25 percent; 2) promote effective budgeting and fee structures; and 3) have fewer disputes, lower settlements, and faster turnarounds. For these companies, as they say in soccer, goal!!!

You like to get back to colleagues quickly. You don't like things piling up. You're aiming for the legendary "Inbox Zero." So when you get an email, you reply ASAP.

Maybe you shouldn't. Taking a few seconds before clicking a link, opening a file, or hitting reply could keep you from getting hacked.

There's plenty in-house attorneys can learn from Volkswagen's emissions fraud scandal: the role of the private organizations in enforcing regulations, the teeth in the Clean Air Act, the strange overlap between copyright law and defeat devices.

But ever since the automaker's $4.3 billion settlement with the Department of Justice two weeks ago, we've all been fixated on one thing: the role of one VW in-house attorney in bungling a litigation hold, resulting in destroyed documents and implicating the attorney in obstruction of justice. The lawyer, known only as "Attorney A," may still be under investigation.

6 Tips for Delegating Legal Work

There is no class on delegation in law school.

The closest thing is a lecture on the non-delegation doctrine, which teaches that Congress cannot delegate certain duties to administrative agencies. So what is an attorney to do when it comes to knowing how to delegate legal tasks?

Because developing delegation skills is not part of legal education, corporate counsel need to learn from other disciplines and mentors in the workplace. Charles A. Volkert, writing for Minority Corporate Counsel Association, says delegating offers distinct advantages for both managing counsel and the people they lead.

"By communicating a more holistic view of company goals and enhancing project- and team-management abilities, counsel can help their departments meet the complex challenges they face today," he says.

Here are some tips:

In April, the Department of Labor finalized rules for financial advisors handling retirement accounts, requiring, for the first time, that broker-dealers and financial advisors act in the best interests of their clients. Choosing suitable investments will no longer be enough; there's now a fiduciary duty to "put the customer first."

So, how are firms preparing for the change? With lawyers. Lots of lawyers. (And a bit of retraining on the side.)

The company is being accused of wrongdoing. Charges of sexual harassment, regulatory noncompliance, or unfair trade practices have been levied. Litigation has started, or is on the horizon.

Should you turn to a private investigator to help prepare? A private dick can help you find out key facts, Sam Spade style. But they can also land companies in hot water, as a recent lawsuit against Uber illustrates.

Does data analytics have a place in the in-house legal department? At more and more companies, the answer is yes.

With increasing frequency, forward thinking in-house attorneys are turning to big data and data analytics to identify risks and ensure compliance. Here's how.

Your cell phones keep exploding. Your cars have been cheating emissions tests. There's E. coli in your burritos. Whatever the reason, your company needs to recall its products -- and that can cost quite a bit.

Sure, general liability insurance will probably cover you if your product results in injuries before being recalled, but you might need special insurance to deal with the additional damages, like lost profits, reputation damage, and significant disruption to your business, that a product recall can cause.