Sarbanes-Oxley / Sarbox / SOX

In a few hours, Mitt Romney and Barack Obama will meet in Denver, Colorado, for the first of three presidential debates (though the second is a town hall debate; are those really “debates?”). As lawyers, you likely possess more than a passing interest in the events of the evening.

You are also Above the Law readers, which means you likely possess more than a passing interest in reckless self-destruction through the massive consumption of alcohol.

As a lawyer, drinker, and college debate coach who gets way too into these things, I have constructed a drinking game to shepherd you through the process of viewing tonight’s debate….

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Jennifer Hudson

* Low prices. Every day. On everything. Except bribes. The NYT handed the feds an FCPA case against Wal-Mart on a platter, but the discount superstore might soon have a SOX problem to worry about. [Reuters]

* The John Edwards campaign finance trial is already off to a dramatic start. It seems that the prosecution’s key witness is just as shady as the former presidential candidate is alleged to be. [Boston Herald]

* Career services offices might not know how to find law students jobs at small law firms, but luckily, it seems like they’re finding them just fine on their own. At least in New York. [New York Law Journal]

* An “abuse of process”? Looks like it’s time to #OccupyTwitter. A New York judge has approved a subpoena for tweets belonging to an Occupy Wall Street protester. [Bloomberg]

* And I am telling you, I’m not going — to help your case. Yesterday, Jennifer Hudson testified at the trial of the man accused of killing her relatives. Wonder if she took some tips from her fiancé, David Otunga. [CNN]

* “I decided to become a kidney donor to my boss, and she took my heart.” A lesson in why you should reconsider donating organs to your boss: you might get fired before the wound heals. [New York Post]

It’s the end of October, and you know what that means: law school finals are lurking. As law students begin to hunker down and make sweet, sweet love to their outlines and flashcards, others are busy thinking up more clever ways to study the same materials.

Visual learners think that drawing pictures will help them cram especially boring law into their brains, but those in the auditory learning crowd know better. And that’s why one law student is writing rap songs about the most boring law of all, Sarbanes-Oxley….

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Ed. note: Welcome to the inaugural installment of House Rules, a column for in-house lawyers by our newest writer, David Mowry. David’s column will appear on Wednesdays.

“I am going in-house.”

When I first said these words to my former law firm colleagues, they connoted a sea change in my career: a coveted position with a prestigious international corporation, no more billable hours, and no more partner pressure.

I am fortunate to practice with smart, engaging, and truly collegial and competent lawyers. And no more billable hours — I do wake up happy every day.

Of course, all good stories must have a conflict; mine was that I was taking a job as a transactional lawyer. I had always viewed transactional work as the “dark side,” and outside of my comfort zone of years in litigation. The more I thought about the transition, however, the more I realized how my perspective as a litigator would serve me well as a contract negotiator….

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Sarbanes Oxley for Dummies Sarbox SOX book.jpgIs the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board unconstitutional? This admittedly boring-sounding entity has the important task of overseeing accounting firms, who in turn keep an eye on the balance sheets of corporate America, through such mechanisms as Sarbanes-Oxley (SOX) compliance.
The constitutionality of SOX and the PCAOB is at issue in Free Enterprise Fund v. Public Company Accounting Oversight Board, one of the most important cases of the new Supreme Court term. As previously noted, the D.C. Circuit upheld the board’s constitutionality against a separation-of-powers challenge — but over a strong dissent by Article III rock star Brett Kavanaugh, which may have grabbed the justices’ attention.
Read more — and comment (anyone care to predict the result?) — over at Going Concern.
Is the PCAOB Going the Way of the Dodo? [Going Concern]
Earlier: The Sarbanes-Oxley Accounting Board: Not Long For This World?

ambulance.jpg* A word of advice to the new summer associates: Paralegals can’t be trusted. [Legal Intelligencer]
* SCOTUS dismissed the lawsuit that sought to punish top Bush officials, including former Attorney General John Ashcroft, for detaining Muslims that were not involved in 9-11. [Christian Science Monitor]
* Military commission trials for Guantanamo detainees present many of the same challenges that the Bush administration faced, in spite of Obama’s facelift. [New York Times]
* The White House passed on an opportunity to bring a case involving gays in the military to the Supreme Court. Are they stalling and playing politics or are they right to say that the law should be changed in the legislature and not the courts? [Wall Street Journal (subscription)]
* What do potential SCOTUS nominees and ambulance chasers have in common? Uh, hopefully nothing…[Esquire]
* The court will hear a case against Sarbanes-Oxley in the fall term–is this the time to question too much oversight? [Washington Post]

Sarbanes Oxley for Dummies Sarbox SOX book.jpgThe constitutionality of the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board, enacted as part of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act, was recently upheld — decision available here (PDF) — by a divided panel of the D.C. Circuit. But those who challenged the Board’s legitimacy are fighting on.
The appellants will either seek rehearing en banc in the D.C. Circuit or certiorari from the Supreme Court. In their efforts, expect them to draw support from the forceful dissent by judicial superstar Brett Kavanaugh (who is, by the way, familiar with this fine website).
If appellants seek succor from the SCOTUS, their pleas may fall upon sympathetic ears. From our colleague, former Skadden and Latham corporate lawyer John Carney, over at Dealbreaker:

Perhaps the most ominous sign for the PCAOB is the fact that Judge Kavanaugh clerked for Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy, who would probably hold the swing vote if the case went to the Supreme Court. His dissenting opinion seems tailor-made to provoke the conservative wing of the court into striking down the board. Unless Congress acts to amend it, we’d bet the autonomous PCAOB is headed for extinction.

You can read the rest of his analysis — which will take you “back to Con Law and the halcyon days of youth,” in the words of one Dealbreaker commenter — over here.
Short Sarbanes-Oxley’s Accounting Board [Dealbreaker]
Free Enterprise Fund v. PBAOB (PDF) [U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit]
Sell Sarbanes-Oxley [New York Sun]
D.C. Circuit Affirms Constitutionality of Accounting Oversight Board [WSJ Law Blog]
Will a Lawsuit Unravel SOX? Firm Brings Constitutional Challenge [WSJ Law Blog]