Thar She Blows!
Is it that companies are more corrupt, or are whistleblowers becoming braver as others step forward? No matter the reason, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has revealed that whistleblower activity is increasing, which the Commission published in its second annual whistleblower report as laid out in the Dodd-Frank Act. The SEC says that it saw 3,238 tips in the 2013 fiscal year, up 8 percent from the 3,001 tips it received in 2012. In the report, the SEC says that it has placed a priority on whistleblower anonymity and protecting them from retaliation moving forward.
557 tips were from the “corporate disclosures and financials” category, beating fraud by four tips
55 countries were represented in whistleblower tips, as well as all 50 states
$14 million award given to one whistleblower whose tip netted a $46.7 million sanction
Most organizations these days have a keen interest in technology patents — including patent trolls — but companies like Apple and Microsoft aren’t the only ones seeing patent applications go through the roof. According to the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), a record number of gun-related patents have been filed within the past four years, with 19 percent of all gun-related patents since 1977 coming in that span. And rather than just stocks and barrels, the patent requests have truly run the gamut, from voice-command shooting capabilities to holsters that attach to a person’s leg or bed.
6,077 gun-related patents registered since 1977
370 gun-related patents issued in 2012, a record for highest single-year total
“Like” This Job
Worried that your potential employer may not hire you because of what you said on Facebook last month? Maybe you should be. According to a November Carnegie Mellon study, between 10 percent and one-third of U.S. firms use social media sites to search for information about a candidate early in the evaluation process. The threat of a suit under equal opportunity employment law seems to be somewhat of a deterrent to companies, however, as only 7 percent admitted to using social media as a determining factor in the final hiring decision.
4,000 private firms were involved in the study, each having at least 15 employees
17% of the time that a resume that identified as “Christian” on Facebook would receive a call-back in a self-identified conservative area
2% of the time that a resume that identified as “Muslim” on Facebook would receive a call-back in a self-identified conservative area
Show Me the Money (If You’re a CEO)
In-house counsel at large corporations are used to their CEOs getting paid the big bucks. It comes with the territory. But what about CEOs receiving large amounts of money before ever actually working for the company? That seems to be the trend with S&P 500 companies, as a GMI Ratings Inc. study shows that more CEOs are receiving “golden hellos,” or multimillion dollar signing bonuses to come to a company, with more regularity. 70 different U.S. companies handed out golden hellos in 2013, the largest amount in U.S. history.
29 more CEOs received golden hellos in 2013 than in 2012
$45 million Zynga paid Donald Mattrick as a golden hello, $40 million of which was stock and options
26% of new S&P 500 CEOs were brought from outside the company in 2012
Corporate directors and investors may seem to have diverging interests outside of simply “making money,” but according to a PricewaterhouseCoopers study, the two sides may be in alignment on a number of key corporate governance issues. Both segments believe that compensation consultants are “very influential” over board decisions on executive compensation (41 percent for directors, 37 percent for investors. Both sides also gave similar views of institutional shareholders, with 22 percent and 18 percent, respectively, calling them “very influential.” But the two sides did differ on CEO pressure, where 38 percent more investors said CEO pressure has a “very influential” effect on compensation decisions.
28% of directors say the ability of boards to provide effective oversight has increased in the last 12 month (compared with 19 percent of investors)
33% of directors say that board effectiveness in overseeing risk has increased (27 percent for investors)
19% of investors indicate the board should reconsider re-nomination of a director if he/she receives between 11 percent and 15 percent negative shareholder support (while only 8 percent of directors believe this)
Law School Life
Think back to law school, no matter how long ago it was. Where did your professors come from? Most likely, one of the top law schools in the country, be it Harvard, Yale or Stanford. That may surprise nobody, but Vanderbilt University Law School professor Tracey E. George and Toronto law professor Albert H. Yoon says that it an aspiring-professor’s past education may be even more important than you believe. According to their study, 75 percent all applicants hired by an accredited law school went to a Top 50 law school as ranked by U.S. News & World Report. In addition, a majority of those hires went to either Harvard, Yale or Stanford alone. They believe it is the most important determining factor, even more than gender or race.
126 professors were offered tenure-track positions at a lower-tiered school than they attended. Only 3 professors were offered those positions at a higher-tiered school
1 professor in the survey was hired by a Tier 1 school despite going to a Tier 2 school. 60 were from Tier 1 schools, 6 were foreign, and 2 did not report
27% more likely for an applicant to receive an offer if they are from Harvard, Yale or Stanford as compared to the national average