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In the Age of Cyber Criminals, Compliance Has Limitations

When entering a home back in the day, a burglar typically jimmied a door or broke in through a window.

If you were smart, you could protect your stuff with good locks or an alarm system. Today, however, thieves work in an entirely new world.

In the age of cyber criminals, your information is golden. The problem is, not even law-abiding companies can replace a stolen identity.

Don't Sugarcoat Bad Business News

Sugarcoating is not new, but it's a lot more complicated than it sounds.

The process used to be popular in the pharmaceutical industry, when drugmakers used it to mask the taste of pills. The ingredients were cheap and made pills easy to swallow.

Companies also "sugarcoat" bad news to make tough times easier to swallow. But it's time to change.

Monetizing the internet is big business. Even sites that no one expected to become central to millions of peoples' lives have done just that, without users having to pay any money. And while, for years, people wondered how these sites stayed in business, the scales dropped from the public's eyes pretty recently.

The internet-age saying that goes, if you're not paying, you're the product, has become a near universal truth. And for Facebook users, this is becoming painfully clear as the company seems to be facing scandal after scandal. Most recently, a public relations crisis consulting company that was retained by Facebook ended up being the cause of a PR crisis.

DOJ Has a New Rule on Corporate Compliance

Brian Benczkowski, an assistant U.S. attorney general, didn't expect everybody to applaud his speech on corporate monitors.

After all, he was speaking to students at New York University School of Law. They don't usually follow the nuances of corporate compliance.

But business leaders around the country virtually gave him a standing ovation when he announced a change: the Justice Department is cutting back on using corporate monitors.

In these wild times of the current executive administration of the country making a massive push for federal deregulation, compliance industry insiders might be a bit nervous. Even popular media isn't holding back making compliance officers seem to be the worst of the worst and smuggest of the smug, and deserving of having their Porsches intentionally demolished by spiteful Wall Street traders.

Sure, there will always be compliance jobs, but with less regulation, comes less work for the compliance crews, which for in-house lawyers and those aspiring to go in house, is not good news. Earlier this year, a Reuters report explained that bonuses and hiring in the compliance industry, which had been booming post-financial crisis, have stagnated and significantly slowed down.

Microsoft's newest requirements for providers of contract employment services, such as for the company's building services, and other operational roles, is making a bit of a stir.

Microsoft will require all contract employee providers that provide more than 50 positions to agree to giving their employees 12 full weeks of (60 percent) paid parental leave in order to renew contracts. Notably, the new policy does not extend to all of Microsoft's suppliers, but rather just the company's partners that fulfill the staffing needs for janitorial, culinary, and/or reception roles.

Does Your Legal Department Need a Code of Conduct?

Without a code of conduct in its legal department, a company is like a rudderless ship.

The rudder, a relatively small device on a ship, dictates its direction. In a storm, a rudderless ship will flounder and likely capsize.

Likewise, a company will fail without a corporate legal department guided by a code of conduct. It gives lawyers direction and a moral compass in troubled times.

The GC's Choice: Compliance or Self-Governance?

John Stuart Mill, the political philosopher, wrote about Hobson's choice: either voting for a candidate or not voting at all.

But Thomas Hobson was not a politician. He owned horses, and offered customers the horses nearest to the stable door or none at all.

That's just a bit of history to give context to the general counsel's choice: compliance or self-governance? Is that really a choice after all?

Coal Lawyer Convicted of Bribing Alabama Lawmaker

There is a line between advocacy and criminality, and some lawyers cross it.

Joel Gilbert, a partner at Balch & Bingham, is one of those lawyers. According to a jury, Gilbert is guilty of helping bribe a government official for a client.

The client, an Alabama coal company, said it did nothing wrong. The company didn't quite throw the lawyer under the bus, but he definitely got caught on the wrong side of the deal.

Uber Executive Quits Amidst Racial Discrimination Probe

Liane Hornsey, head of human resources at Uber, abruptly quit following an investigation about how she handled racial discrimination claims there.

According to reports, Hornsey dismissed internal complaints of racial discrimination and retaliated against whistleblowers at the company. Reuters, which broke the story, said it "raises questions about Uber's ability to reform its culture and change some of its toxic behaviours."

Although Uber cleaned house after widespread sexual harassment claims last year, it's hard to see any light at the end of the tunnel for the ride-sharing company.