The BATLAW website maintains a selection of articles on business, business law, business law careers, legal education and other topics of interest or importance to law students. They include articles from a variety of legal periodicals, newspapers, law reviews, and other sources. Browse this section from time to time. Worst case, you might learn something useful. Best case, you’ll find something interesting.
The global litigation-finance industry is growing with firms like Burford posting net returns of 61% on invested capital in 2012. Returns have been impressive enough to attract hedge funds and traditional financial companies. (4/6/2013)
After setting in motion a $19 billion award against Chevron in 2011 related to pollution in Ecuador, plaintiffs’ attorney Steven Donziger is now facing a countersuit from Chevron after the environmental consulting firm that produced the bulk of the data in the case settled with Chevron, and said it was “misled” by Donziger. Chevron, which has no known assets in Ecuador, alleges in its counterclaim that Donziger orchestrated a vast fraud scheme with the assistance of Ecuadorian attorneys and judges, fabricated evidence, and participated in “ghostwriting” an independent scientific report. (4/11/13)
The IRS has expanded its Voluntary Classification Settlement Program (VCSP), which allows employers to voluntarily convert its contractors to employees in an effort to avoid future tax liability. The article goes over the changes and provides links to the relevant IRS documents. (03/01/13).
SAC Capital Advisors agreed to pay over $600 million to settle an insider trading action. Officials are calling this the largest settlement ever to resolve a civil lawsuit related to improper trading. (3/15/2013).
The FTC is cracking down on paid Tweets that do not meet standards of specifically alerting users that they are reading an advertisement. (3/12/13)
UBS paid $26 million in order to entice former Bank of America Merrill Lynch executive Andrea Orcel to join their firm. In response to the lavish salaries paid to many bank executives, Swiss voters approved changes to executive pay where company shareholders now have to vote on much management can earn. (03/14/2013).
Irving Picard, the court-appointed trustee overseeing the Bernie Madoff bankruptcy, is seeking approval from a federal judge to return $505 million to the victims of Madoff’s Ponzi scheme. The money would be disbursed to over 2,000 people, and over half of them would receive all of the principal they lost in the fraud. If approved, the total amount reimbursed to the victims would total $5.438 billion of the $17.3 billion estimated to be lost from the scheme. Picard secured $3.6 billion for the victims in August of 2012, and another $1 billion earlier this month.
News that Berkshire Hathaway and other investors purchased H.J. Heinz and other similar transactions could mean that corporations are increasingly willing to dip into large cash reserves for mergers and acquisitions. That’s potentially good news for attorneys. (2/15/2013).
The Supreme Court will decide if a small farmer infringed on Monsanto’s patent by planting second generation seeds created by Monsanto’s patented seed product. This case could have drastic effects on patent law as patent holders could lose protection once original buyers resell their product. (12/15/13).
Merck has decided to settle shareholder suits for $686 million in the aftermath of a clinical trial that showed one of their drugs may not be effective. (02/14/2013).
While the three major credit rating agencies have been the subject of popular resentment for some time, the Justice Department filed suit against Standard & Poors, alleging that the firm defrauded investors by issuing premium ratings on poorly structured investments. Ironically, a conflict of interest has been presented in that the SEC has been silent on the issue, despite the fact that it is nearly certain that both agencies have access to the same evidence. (2/8/2013)
The recent growth in cloud delivered services has required states to determine how these services will be taxed. The states that have addressed the issue have come up with a number of different approaches. (02/06/2013)
Discusses a lawsuit by Jacoby & Myers that is seeking to allow non-lawyer investors to put money into a firm, thus eliminating the traditional partnership model that law firms employ today. Lays out arguments for and against this change in terms of the rising cost of legal services and access to the legal system for people with lower incomes. (2/2/13)
Discusses an attempt by American Lawyer to rank the most valuable law firms in the world, despite the fact that there is no reasonable way to assess the dollar value of a private firm. Breaks down the methodology used to create the rankings and argues the strengths and weaknesses of certain facets of the rankings, including calculation of profits and ignorance of law firm liabilities. (12/3/12)
Article discusses how multinational companies can restructure to take advantage of the favorable tax rates that a number of countries have on income derived from the development and exploitation of IP. (12/11/2012)
The owner of Armslist.com was sued in a complaint that alleges the classified-advertising website “facilitates illegal gun sales to unlawful gun buyers,” in what gun-control advocates say is the first legal challenge of its kind. (12/13/2012).
U.S. prosecutors plan to file charges against bankers associated with UBS for rigging interbank lending rates. These will be the first charges brought by the U.S. Department of justice against individuals alleged to have manipulated the Libor. (12/15/2012).
The fiscal cliff has brought a certain mystique to the Simpson-Bowles plan in recent days. This explanation of the plan provides context to the deficit reduction plans in current circulation. (12/13/2012).
BP maintains that the settlement agreement is consistent with company’s position that the accident resulted from multiple causes/parties. BP will plead guilty to 11 felony misconduct or neglect charges related to the deaths from the explosion. (11/15/2012).
Nicole Wong, former deputy counsel for Google, has joined Twitter as the company’s legal director. At Google, Ms. Wong was known as the “gatekeeper to the Internet,” playing a role in deciding what controversial media would and would not appear in Google searches. Ms. Wong is the most recent in a ‘flock’ of ex-Googlers who have been making the jump to join the ranks of Twitter; Ms. Wong will be reporting to former Google colleague Alex Macgillivray. (11/13/12)
In tough economic times jobs for new law students have become tougher to come by. As debt for law students goes up and the number of premium jobs goes down, fraud lawsuits against law schools have become increasingly popular for allegedly misrepresenting employment statistics. (11/12/2012).
Moving from a high tax state to a low tax state may not always be a viable way to avoid taxes as high tax states often chase those who leave, especially if the move is before a significant income event. This article briefly summarizes two important considerations when thinking about making such a move: 1) factors in determining residency, and 2) nonresident income. (11/13/12).
In an attempt to prevent current litigation trends by Non-Practicing Entities or “patent trolls,” Cisco Systems, Inc. is undertaking an aggressive approach, filing claims against multiple NPEs which allege violations of federal anti-racketeering laws. The burden of proof, which requires not only that the NPE’s claims were frivolous but that they pursued their claims with this knowledge, is difficult to establish, but will likely send the signal that technology companies are more willing to vigorously pursue claims of this sort than they once were. (11/12/12)
An increasing variety of entities are investigating and prosecuting American financial firms. In response, big American banks are expanding their legal departments to keep up. This creates a greater incentive for banks to settle quickly with large sums of money in back room negotiations, an environment The Economist argues benefits no one. (10/13/2012)
Professor Tim Wu of Columbia Law School argues that software patent law is a failed experiment that has had a negative effect on business developments in the field. Professor Wu says that software patent law is expensive and not conducive to competition. While patent laws have helped spur innovation in some fields such as pharmaceuticals and chemical development, software companies have successfully innovated in spite of patent laws. (10/10/2012)
The article discusses how financial firms are being saddled with increasingly high litigation costs, not only from traditional entities such as the SEC, CFTC, and Department of Justice, but also from various other federal agencies, state attorneys general, and local district attorneys. Many of these firms have increasingly begun hiring former regulators in the hopes of increasing their bargaining power in litigation. (10/13/12)
E-book purchasers may soon be getting a refund. Three major publishers and the attorney generals of most states have reached a settlement over e-book pricing. (10/15/12)
Stocks are up on better than expected retail sales numbers, indicating that U.S. consumers are spending more. (10/15/2012)
ASU’s College of Law is trying to expand their facilities and increase enrollment/graduation rates by 50%. Raises question of how significant a “bounce back” in the legal job sector is when some law schools make decisions like ASU; during the last year 5,900 new legal jobs were created for 44,000 new attorneys. (10/12/2012)
Steven Miller, a proponent of the IRS whistleblower program, will replace Douglas Shulman as IRS commissioner next month. Miller taking over will likely result in an increased emphasis on the use of the whistleblower program as Shulman showed little commitment to the program while in charge. (10/11/2012)
Legal firms continue to struggle in the “expense-vs.-revenue war” that has ensued following the recession. In order to break through the floor on expenses that firms are rushing to meet, they may have to rethink the business personnel model in terms of billable hours and annual hires of expensive, newly graduated law students. (10/09/12)
Reverse mortgages allow homeowners older than 62 to borrow against their homes value. Aggressive lending tactics and confusing disclosures have prompted the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau to push for stricter guidelines to protect America’s aging population. (10/04/2012)
Many lawyers do not have deep experience with software contracts, but as in-house counsel, they are asked to offer input on ERP and software deals. This article offers an overview of software deals and contract negotiation tips. (9/27/12)
Data from iPhone and iPad devices is becoming a popular target in legal investigations. Because of increased security, people are starting to think critically about how to handle iOS data within e-discovery. (8/1/12)
Patent infringement filings are at record levels and many companies’ first reaction when they see possible patent infringement is to jump to litigation. Not so fast says this article. This article contains steps it says should be taken by businesses before litigation to help ensure success and keep costs down. (09/02/2012)
The Fifth Circuit upheld a 2009 decision in which the court ruled that a family limited partnership was far enough along in its creation while the client was alive to be valid even though it was completed after the client’s death. This decision demonstrates the court’s relatively friendly attitude towards family limited partnerships, which will become even more important if the $5,120,000 lifetime exclusion expires. (09/30/2012)
The Telecommunications Act of 1996 provides subsidies on phone plans for certain low-income individuals. The subsidies are funded through the universal service fund (USF), which is a component of almost everyone’s phone bill. A recent bill, the Stop Taxpayer Funded Cell Phones Act of 2011, has been proposed to eliminate this practice. (9/29/12)
Bank of America announced a settlement of $2.43 billion for shareholders who alleged that Bank of America had disguised the escalating losses of recently acquired Merrill Lynch. The settlement figure exceeded expectations, and serves as a reminder that the bank needs to “clean up its past” before it can hope for future growth. (9/28/2012)
Wake up call for police and universities regarding 1st Amendment Rights for protestors after UC Davis settles. In addition, UC Davis will work with ACLU to develop new policies on student demonstrations, crowd management, and the use of force. (9/27/2012)
Discusses the Senate’s attempt to bring attention to the tax avoidance phenomenon of transfer pricing. Interesting case studies on Microsoft and Hewlett Packard to illustrate the problem in greater detail. (09/21/2012)
Alibaba is one of China’s leading tech companies but has recently come under fire for selling products that violate US copyright laws. This e-commerce site has turned to Chicago law firm Sidley Austin to help solve its copyright issues and move forward in a global economy. (09/27/2012)
Former lawyer at Cravath, Swaine & Moore reflects on what partners in the firm had in common when he began working at the form almost four decades ago. He concluded that a love for their work, and not an obsession over compensation, is the key to promotions, and success. (9/24/12)
When trying to promote the sale of equities in an alternative energy company, one investment advisory firm learned the hard way that misrepresenting the companies financials to investors can not only result in a hefty fine from the SEC, but also a one year barring of one of the firms co-founders from association with any broker, dealer, investment adviser, municipal securities dealer or transfer agent. Securities law firms are likely to see an influx of mislead investors seeking a return of their investments. (9/28/2012)
While fracking may be the most commonly known side effect of shale gas industry, flaring is another threat that may ultimately stop this industry before it can deliver on its domestic energy promise. (09/27/2012)
An interview process for a partner position at law firm, Cravath, Swaine & Moore, consists of sitting in a conference room for two days while meeting each of the office’s partners. Only after each partner meets with the potential candidate, decides if he or she is a good fit and votes in favor of hiring, will a new partner join the firm. In contrast to the recently bankrupt law firm, Dewey & LeBoeuf, the firm emphasizes a lock-step compensation system in which there are no “stars” just a “one-firm firm.” (9/24/12)
In the wake of the Dewey & LeBoeuf bankruptcy, law firms are facing uncertain times. The law firms that are continuing to strive are those that are sticking to their traditional ways and not overemphasizing a profit per partner model. (9/24/12)
Despite opposition and in an effort to revitalize India’s flagging economic growth, Prime Minister Singh announced a renewed effort to allow more foreign direct investment into the country. This will include allowing foreign supermarkets to enter the retail sector, minority stake foreign direct investment in airlines, electricity trading, and broadcasting, and equity stakes in a handful of state owned companies. Any loosening of India’s FDI restrictions is likely to result in substantial legal consequences for the companies and individuals who choose to invest. (9/22/12)
Current litigation is defining social media account ownership questions between companies and employees. Regardless of the outcome, defining account ownership is a critical part of any social media strategy. (9/17/12)