Foreign Corrupt Practices Act

At a law firm, law matters. Law is the center of the institution’s universe, and it’s all everyone is thinking about.

It’s the other functions that don’t matter: “Another email from IT? Telling me about interfaces and gigabytes? Why don’t those clowns leave me alone?”

“Another email from finance hectoring me about time sheets? Don’t those morons know I’m busy?”

At corporations, law (and compliance) is an “other function.” The businesses are concentrating on their businesses, and law and compliance — along with human resources, information technology, and finance — are, at best, a means to an end. If you mirror the other “shared services” and send incomprehensible communications to the businesses, the businesses will soon realize that you’re just one of the pests, meant to be ignored.

Inevitably, if a business person accidentally steps over some legal line, you’ll hear that the business guy had no clue that the line existed: “Yeah, yeah. Now that you’re telling me about it, I understand that we have that rule. But how was I to know? The rule is buried on the fourth page of some impenetrable policy hidden somewhere in our computer system. I spend my time selling; I can’t waste time trying to make sense of your legalese.”

If you don’t sympathize with that guy, then you’ve been a lawyer for too long. His criticism is not just an excuse for having violated the rules; his criticism may well be the truth. How can you change that reality?

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Why Are The Lawyers Pestering Us? Communicating About Law And Compliance”

If we don’t stand up to evil now, then when?

* Most folks think the police overreacted by issuing a civil disobedience warning for a 3-year-old girl, but those people need to watch Children of the Corn. [UPI]

* Speaking of the Brits, authorities detained Glenn Greenwald’s partner (interestingly, Greenwald’s partner is named Miranda) for nine hours and “confiscated his computer, phone, camera, memory stick, DVDs and video games” while passing through Heathrow. Wow, this is the sort of thing that might make Greenwald mad at the surveillance state. [ABA Journal]

* A detailed analysis of confidential sources. I’m pointing this out to publicly clarify that ATL keeps its tipsters confidential unless they specifically ask to be cited. So feel free to tip away! [Talking Biz News]

* Tales of Ted Cruz as a young man. So we’re calling parliamentary-style debate “debate” now? OK. [Daily Beast]

* Professor Rick Hasen examines North Carolina’s new voter suppression law and how it proves that the country still needs the Voting Rights Act. [Slate]

* Maybe bar exams should write better questions that actually cover all the material candidates have to learn. Personally, I was just fine not having to memorize a lot about New York commercial paper law. [Ramblings on Appeal]

* The tale of a wealthy couple evading the law. The article describes the story as an “arthritic version of Steve McQueen and Ali MacGraw in The Getaway, perhaps, moving at nursing-home speed.” Hollywood just found a plot for Expendables 4. [Seattle Weekly]

* The government’s obsession with FCPA enforcement has bit JP Morgan over hiring the children of Chinese officials to woo business. [Dealbreaker]

* Chief Judge Michael P. Mills of the Northern District of Mississippi weighs in on a copyright suit between the estate of William Faulkner and Woody Allen. The judge is apparently not a fan of Sharknado because he has no soul. Video of the quirky conflict after the jump…

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* George Washington University has been stripped of its U.S. News college ranking. The law school appears safe. [Tax Prof Blog]

* Now students can get in trouble for bullying their teachers. Teachers, people! TEACHERS CAN’T STAND UP TO THE MEAN SCHOOL KIDS WITHOUT A LAWSUIT. [Volokh Conspiracy]

* Just to be clear, Antonin Scalia would not be on the side of the secessionists. [New York Personal Injury Law Blog]

* So the accuser of Kevin Clash, voice of Elmo, recanted and said that he was a consenting adult when he was with Clash. It’s great to know that Elmo is getting barely legal ass. [Huffington Post]

* FCPA! Guidance! This is WAY MORE INTERESTING than Petraeus and the Kelley sisters. [WSJ Law Blog]

* For those of you who saw Capturing the Friedmans, here’s an update on the ongoing proceedings. [WiseLawNY]

* Stop drinking the FCPA Kool-Aid. Kool-Aid doesn’t even taste good anyway. Unless you add booze. But I digress. [FCPA Professor]

* Is it illegal to lie on Twitter? Some thoughts from Professor Eugene Volokh. [Volokh Conspiracy]

* So you wanna get published in a law review, huh? Well, check this out, young padawan. [Prawfsblog]

* Who are the top employment lawyers in America? [eBossWatch]

* The ABA and New York Law School are butting heads on how to deal with time lost due to Sandy. [Legal As She Is Spoke via Constitutional Daily]

* Lat is giving a talk at Vanderbilt Law School tomorrow. It’s open to the public and free, just like the pizza (but if you take the pizza, you have to stay for the event). [Vanderbilt Law School]

Nothing pisses off a lawyer more than uncertainty. Uncertainty gives rise to the risk of undermining the facade of perfect knowledge that attorneys prefer to convey to their clients. Given this character trait, it’s no surprise that the collective white-collar and corporate counsel community is freaking the hell out about every scrap of information it can glean from the Justice Department about its new Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) enforcement policy.

So what exactly has these observant lawyers in a tizzy?

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Reading Tea Leaves: Defense Bar Freaking Out About the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act”

2 Girls 1 Sandwich

* Dewey need to take a look at the Biglaw industry in general before more firms implode? Hell yes, says an author who’s written on the economics and management of law firms. [DealBook / New York Times]

* Wal-Mart was served with its first shareholder suit over its alleged bribery scandal, because the only thing on rollback this week is the price of the company’s stock shares. [Reuters]

* Does diplomatic immunity give you a free pass for getting handsy with the maid? Guess we’ll see next week, when a judge rules on DSK’s motion to dismiss his civil suit. [New York Daily News]

* As long as you’ve got money, the TSA will totally look the other way if you’ve got suitcases filled with drugs. Vibrators, on the other hand, are simply out of the question. [Bloomberg]

* As of yesterday, Connecticut became the seventeenth state to kill the death penalty. But not so fast, death row inmates. You still get to die. Isn’t that nice? [CNN]

* Franchise agreements be damned, because even judges can understand that sometimes, you just need to eat a delicious sandwich while you’re getting a lap dance. [KTVN]

* Arizona’s immigration law is heading to the Supreme Court today. Meanwhile, former Senator Dennis DeConcini lobbed the worst insult ever against his state. How embarrassing for you, Arizona. [New York Times]

* Will Wal-Mart regret not disclosing its bribery investigation sooner? Not when the delay saved millions in criminal fines. What Wal-Mart will regret is being forced into disclosure by the NYT narcs. [Corporate Counsel]

* Delete all the oil from ocean, and then maybe we’ll care about this. A former BP employee was charged with obstruction of justice for deleting texts having to do with the Deepwater Horizon disaster. [Bloomberg]

* The Tennessee Board of Law Examiners has granted Duncan Law an extension on its bid for ABA accreditation. Woohoo, five more years of allowing students to “negligently enroll.” [Knoxville News Sentinel]

* “Once you cross the six-figure mark, you think, what’s a few thousand dollars more?” You’re doing it wrong: you’re supposed to be bragging about a six-figure salary, not a six-figure debt obligation. [Baltimore Sun]

* New Jersey residents don’t always have the great pleasure of nearly being killed by two high-speed Lamborghinis, but when they do, they prefer that police officers be suspended and sue over it. [ABC News]

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]

Suppose you’re doing business in a country that is perceived as being corrupt. For example, Myanmar, North Korea, and Somalia take the bottom three slots in the 2010 Corruption Perceptions Index.

Okay, let me rephrase that: Suppose you’re doing business in a country where it’s actually lawful to do business, but the country is perceived as being corrupt. Cambodia or Zimbabwe might fit the bill. (On reflection, it strikes me that my own company may actually do business in those two places. If we do, then I, naturally, love the judicial systems in Cambodia and Zimbabwe. If my company is ever in court in one of those places, please don’t hold this column against us. It’s just that terribly unfair perception of corruption that gives you guys a bad name.)

How do you conduct business there?

Very carefully, of course.

As a matter of compliance, your company must implement policies that forbid payments that are customary in the corrupt place, but forbidden by U.S. law. And your company must enforce those policies, perhaps by having a regional group that approves third parties with whom you do business or otherwise strives to comply with the law.

But that’s the front end. What do you do at the back end, if you find yourself in a dispute in the corrupt place?

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Inside Straight: Doing Business In Corrupt Places”

Judge Matz

[T]his Court is compelled to find that the Government team allowed a key FBI agent to testify untruthfully before the grand jury, inserted material falsehoods into affidavits submitted to magistrate judges in support of applications for search warrants and seizure warrants, improperly reviewed e-mail communications between one Defendant and her lawyer, recklessly failed to comply with its discovery obligations, posed questions to certain witnesses in violation of the Court’s rulings, engaged in questionable behavior during closing argument and even made misrepresentations to the Court.

– Judge A. Howard Matz of the Central District of California, benchslapping federal prosecutors — and vacating the convictions, and dismissing the indictment — in a high-profile Foreign Corrupt Practices Act prosecution. (Gavel bang: Daniel Fisher.)

(Additional links and information about this case — if you do FCPA or white-collar criminal work, this may be of interest to you — after the jump.)

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Benchslap of the Day: What Not To Do If You’re A Prosecutor”

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