In House - The FindLaw Corporate Counsel Blog

August 2012 Archives

Clorox's Cat Litter Class Action Clawed Back, But Lingers On

Clorox's latest attempt to rid itself of a cat litter lawsuit over its Fresh Step brand were only partly successful.

On Friday a federal court judge dismissed part of the suit against Clorox's kitty litter but it didn't end litigation. The ruling is part of a long legal process over ads Clorox used for its Fresh Step product.

The issues began when a competitor sued Clorox for false advertising. That case settled out of court but it sparked the current suit which was brought by consumers.

FDA Tobacco Warnings Headed to US Supreme Court?

The seemingly never-ending litigation regarding the graphic cigarette warning labels appears headed to the Supreme Court of the United States.

This week, the U.S. Court of Appeals in Washington ruled for the tobacco industry and found that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) could not force cigarette manufacturers to post the graphic images.

The FDA had proposed images that covered the entire top half of cigarette packaging that showed images like a baby enveloped by smoke and people who have died from lung cancer, reports The Associated Press.

Top 10 Tips for the New In House Counsel

Congrats on that great new job as in house counsel! You landed a plum gig in the legal space. Now you need some tips on how to stand out in the office.

Being a good employee is about more than showing up on time and finishing your work by the deadline. Sure that will keep you from getting fired but it won't help you climb the ranks. Your goal is to be lead GC isn't it? We thought so.

You've come to the right place for some tips and tricks of in house success.

When a calamity strikes your company, what's the best way to handle potential mass claims for damage or injury?

The recent Chevron refinery fire in Richmond, Calif., and the BP oil spill in 2010 offer just two examples of how multinational corporations have handled mass claims.

While a company's efforts may not prevent all potential lawsuits, following an established (and humane) claims-handling process can pay off, both financially and in terms of goodwill. Here are five lessons you can learn from recent incidents:

When a Takedown Notice is a Bad Idea for Your Company

When there is copyright infringement probably an attorney's first thought is to file a takedown notice.

The DMCA has done a lot for copyright holders in terms of making it easy to protect their rights. The process is well known to any corporate counsel whose company owns at least one copyright.

What if automatically filing a takedown is the wrong idea?

A Guide to Social Media for Corporate Counsel

Big businesses are involved in social media, whether they want to or not. That means their in-house counsel needs to understand the ins and outs of these interactive websites to continue protecting the company from legal harm.

It doesn't matter whether a business actually takes time to create an account on a popular social media website. Consumers, fans, and detractors can still bring the company into the online conversation and those actions aren't always legal.

As NBC's Twitter debacle during the Olympics showed, the way companies handle social media can have a huge impact on public perception.

So how can you manage legal concerns on social media in the best interest of your client?

Patent Trolls May Have to Pay Litigation Costs, New Bill Says

Patent trolls are companies with a bad reputation for buying patents and then suing individuals for infringement, often in frivolous suits.

The typical troll sends out patent infringement claims to a wide number of defendants in spite of weak evidence. Many small companies are forced to settle rather than face the prohibitive costs of litigation.

But a new bill seeks to change that by shifting the cost of litigation. Trolls beware.

3 Ways for Corporate Counsel to Overcome Lawyer Stereotypes

It's relatively easy to network within your organization when you work at a law firm. After all, everyone is a lawyer and they have a very good understanding of what you do.

However, when you work as in house counsel at a non-law related business, networking, building connections and making your achievements stand out to a room full of non-lawyers can present its challenges. This is especially true when most people have a negative impression of what lawyers do.

Here are three tips for in house counsel networking that can help you overcome these negative stereotypes, as reported by JD Supra:

Why Would an In House Counsel Leave to Work for a Law Firm?

In house counsel and law firm attorney have traditionally been viewed as two distinct career paths for lawyers.

Generally, in house counsel develop legal expertise for their organization and learn to handle a wide variety of matters. On the other hand, law firm attorneys are typically more specialized and their salary is based in large part on their rainmaking abilities.

While success at a law firm and success as in house counsel oftentimes depends upon very different skills, recent data suggest that the lines separating these two careers are blurring as more and more in house counsel are leaving their jobs and joining firms.

An ex-Univision Radio sales executive's lawsuit claims age, race, and even foreign-accent discrimination by her former boss created a hostile work environment.

Laura Hagan, 66, a native of Ecuador, complained to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission which declined to take the case but has given Hagan a Notice of Right to Sue her ex-employer, The Huffington Post reports.

While Univision targets the Spanish-speaking market, Hagan was the only Hispanic executive on Univision Radio's national sales team when she was fired in 2008, her lawsuit claims.

What allegedly led to her firing?

How to Handle an EEOC Discrimination Charge

With two months to go in the federal government's fiscal year, we are entering the "Red Zone" of EEOC enforcement.

Typically, the EEOC files the majority of its discrimination lawsuits for the year during the Red Zone. Last year, the agency filed 175 of its 261 lawsuits in the months of August and September, reports Corporate Counsel. This year, experts expect a similar trend.

As getting sued by the EEOC should be the very last resort for organizations, it is a good time to review the proper steps for resolving an EEOC discrimination charge.

When an ex-employee sues her former employer, everybody often loses in terms of precious time, money, and effort.

But there are some strategies that can help deter even the most disgruntled employees from filing suit in the first place. As in-house counsel, you'll likely have to join forces with your company's HR director and other managers to make these strategies work.

Here are five tips to avoid legal quarrels with workers after they leave your company:

Zynga Subject of Class-Action Lawsuit for Insider Trading

Online gaming giant Zynga is being sued in a class action lawsuit that claims the company and some of its early investors engaged in insider trading.

It's alleged that the company's executives and early investors knew that the company was struggling long before the public had this information. As a result, these insiders, including the company's CEO, supposedly sold off millions of shares right before prices plummeted by 75 percent, reports the San Jose Mercury News.

Selling on such insider information is obviously illegal, and one has to wonder just how the company's in house counsel could have allowed this to happen -- assuming the allegations are true.

A former EEOC judge's lawsuit alleging discrimination and retaliation by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission can move forward, the Ninth Circuit ruled Monday.

Mary Bullock served as an administrative law judge with the EEOC from 1999 to 2007, The Wall Street Journal reports. EEOC judges, of course, hear complaints alleging violations of federal employment-discrimination laws.

But in an ironic twist, Bullock claims the EEOC discriminated against her because of her disability, and then unlawfully retaliated against her for filing a complaint.