In House - The FindLaw Corporate Counsel Blog

October 2011 Archives

Corporate Counsels Dictate Billing, Behavior to Outside Counsel

How do you manage outside counsel? In particular, how do you manage billing and behavior?

In response to rising legal costs, corporate counsels have sought ways to manage outside expenses. Some have turned to the flat fee, while others have refused to pay for first-year associate work.

Pfizer has taken a somewhat different approach--one that it believes has produced better legal outcomes and cost-savings.

Ever a Good Idea to Go After Anonymous Bloggers?

As an in-house attorney, you've probably learned what pushes an executive's buttons. You also know that if an exec runs across an online posting that slams your company's reputation you'll probably be receiving an angry call. But is it ever a wise idea to go after an anonymous blogger?

It might make the exec initially happy. After all, they don't want to see their business get tarnished.

But legally speaking, it seems that going after someone whose identity is under wraps might be a long process. Whether or not it's worth it will be up to you and your company's board.

Citigroup Settles SEC Fraud Complaint for $285 Million

The Securities & Exchange Commission announced a $285 million Citigroup settlement last week, putting an end to a civil suit brought by the agency.

The amount falls behind settlements reached with Goldman Sachs and JPMorgan--the only other major banking institutions sued by the SEC. Approximately $190 million will be used to refund investors, while the remaining $95 million represents a fine.

These numbers are subject to change, as the settlement must be approved by U.S. District Judge Jed S. Rakoff.

General Counsels Refuse to Pay for First Year Associate Training

Is your company okay with paying for an outside counsel firm's first-year associate training?

For many years, it seems that the answer was "yes." It almost seemed inevitable that projects would be staffed with young attorneys.

But now there's a growing trend amongst general counsels: refusing to pay for first or second-year associates. After all, these attorneys are young. They don't have legal experience. How many companies are doing so?

Ex-HP CEO Mark Hurd Wants to Keep Damaging Letter Secret

Will the Mark Hurd letter be made public?

The answer to this question is now firmly in the hands of the Delaware Supreme Court, which heard oral arguments on the issue late last week.

Written on behalf of contractor Jodie Fisher, the letter reportedly alleges sexual harassment perpetrated by the ex-HP CEO. It also claims Hurd misused corporate funds and breached his fiduciary duties towards the company.

Raj Rajaratnam's Sentence is Longest Ever for Insider Trading: 11 Yrs

Former Galleon hedge fund head Raj Rajaratnam was sentenced to 11 years in prison by a federal judge today. He was also levied a $10 million fine.

The sentencing culminates the legal battle against the former executive accused of insider trading. A jury convicted him of securities and fraud last May.

Rajaratnam's sentence is the longest ever for insider trading, The New York Times reports. It's also a boon for federal prosecutors who have been trying to crack down on fraudulent activity on Wall Street.

Don't Get Sanctioned Over an Unsuccessful 'Meet and Confer'

Attorneys everywhere beware: make sure your "meet and confer" is successful, otherwise you may face sanctions.

Discovery sanctions are probably something that lawyers are acutely aware of. In one case, Qualcomm was fined $8 million when a judge found their attorneys deliberately withheld information from the defendant, Broadcom Corp.

How do you avoid sanctions? Why follow the rules of civil procedure, of course.

Global Industries Sale Marred by Insider Trading: SEC

The Securities and Exchange Commission is alleging insider trading in connection with the recent sale of underwater oil company Global Industries.

"Unknown purchasers" bought 685,840 shares of Global Industries stock just days before the $937 million Technip takeover. The day of the merger's public announcement, the shares were sold for a $1.73 million profit .

Regulators believe that the purchasers obtained insider information as a result of a breach of fiduciary duty. There was no public news to explain the transaction's size (10% of the company's daily trading volume).

Corporate Board is 'Weak Link,' Vulnerable to Hacking, Info Theft

Is your corporate board a "weak link" in your company's information security system?

Unfortunately, it might be.

Unlike other high-level executives, board members often function outside the brick and mortar company office. As a result, confidential information is often left on unsecured devices or email accounts on their personal computers.

In fact, a vast majority of companies are vulnerable to security issues according to a recent survey by Thomson Reuters Governance, Risk & Compliance.

Are Women Better Suited to Be General Counsels Than Men?

Could it be that women lawyers are a better fit at corporations?

Courageous Counsel tells the stories of 42 female general counsel in the Fortune 500. The book looks at how female attorneys make up about 20% of GCs at these companies, while they only hold about 6% of equity partnerships in the AmLaw 200.

Why the gap? Could it be the skills?

West Coupon Code: Free Entry to In House Managing Litigation CLE

Interested in attending West's Managing Litigation CLE course? Through a special arrangement with West, FindLaw readers can attend for free!

The 9-hour course offers 6.75 of CLE credits for many jurisdictions, and is titled "Managing Litigation 2011: Litigation Readiness and Project Management for In-House Counsel." The program will be held on October 11, 2011 at the Network Meeting Center at Techmart in Santa Clara, California.

Specifically tailored for in-house counsel, the course will cover project management tips and tools. Faculty members include partners at major law firms, and the conference will be highly interactive. Interested in signing up? Read below to find out how you can do so for free: a savings of $495, the cost of the course.