6 cases and litigation trends affecting in-house counsel

Litigation developments bring new challenges to legal departments

Imagine a glass beaker filled with vinegar. Hovering above it is a heaping spoonful of baking soda. Mix the two together, and the vinegar will bubble out of control, flow over the rim of the beaker and make a huge mess.

This simple grade-school science experiment demonstrates how catalysts can cause chemical reactions. But it’s also a microcosm of the in-house legal world, in which lawsuits, regulations and other outside forces cause changes, some of which can drastically alter a company’s stability. It’s up to general counsel to help their companies navigate these changes, adapt to them and excel under them.

Mayo Collaborative Services v. Prometheus Labs

The catalyst: Many intellectual property experts are calling Mayo the most significant IP decision of the 2011-2012 Supreme Court term.

AT&T Mobility v. Concepcion

The catalyst: Although the Supreme Court decided Concepcion more than a year ago, it is still sparking controversy.

The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act

The catalyst: When President Obama signed the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act into law in March 2010, he stirred up a whirlwind of controversy. The legislation effectively overhauls American health care and requires everyone to have minimum health care coverage by 2014 or pay a fee.

Social Media litigation

The catalyst: In January, the NLRB issued a report examining 14 recent social media cases. Half of the cases involved questions about employers’ social media policies. The board found that five of the policies in question were unlawfully broad, one was lawful, and one was lawful after it was revised.

FCPA crackdowns

The catalyst: In the fall of 2010, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce issued a report telling the DOJ it must file more Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) cases in order to shine more light on the agency’s broad definition of who constitutes as a “foreign official” under the act. The FCPA prohibits bribing such entities for business or financial benefits.

Mexico’s class action law

The catalyst: A historic law went into effect this past spring that will for the first time allow consumers to bring class action lawsuits in Mexico.

Ashley Post

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