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There is a revolution happening in the world of legal operations. The profession is gaining traction and visibility, and is even often being offered a seat at the table with the legal department leadership. Corporate legal departments are creating new positions and allocating resources to various legal operations functions, which may include legal spend management, legal project management, and data analytics among others. But not all legal operations are the same. Different needs and different goals create varying definitions of the job, but one thing is common to all: Legal ops is about changing the way a legal department functions. The change can be focused on one area, such as legal spending management, or it can be a multi-front approach to changing whatever is most impactful. Another thing is certain—you can’t change every operation within a department at once. It is a slow, and sometimes painful, Process to change long-standing practices and Processes. Change takes Persuasion, Patience, and Tenacity; but change also requires evaluation and adjustments to People, Process, and Tools (collectively, PPT). Legal departments must address all three in order to have truly impactful and effective change, which can only be done if there is a focused effort and dedicated People who have made changing the status quo their mission. (more…)
Contrary to its trade name, recent litigation involving Blue Diamond almond milk has been far from a breeze. Massachusetts resident Casley Vass, on behalf of himself and similarly situated plaintiffs, brought suit against one of the nation’s leading almond milk producers, Blue Diamond Growers (Blue Diamond), claiming that the labeling of Almond Breeze almond milk was deceptive. The case is instructive as to the extent of cognizable economic injury under Massachusetts’s consumer protection law, Chapter 93A.
In Vass v. Blue Diamond Growers, the plaintiff alleged inter alia that almond milk labeled as “all natural” was misleading as it actually contained several artificial ingredients. The plaintiff averred that he purchased this “all natural” product relying on its label, and was deceived into thinking it was in fact an entirely “natural” product. As a result, the plaintiff and similarly situated consumers across the country alleged they were injured by purchasing the defendant’s product. (more…)
On December 22, 2015, the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR or Court) ruled in G.S.B. v. Switzerland that the disclosure of banking information from Switzerland to the United States, based on a bilateral agreement, did not amount to a violation of Article 8 § 1 of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR or the Convention), which provides for the right to respect for private life. This piece will include a short introduction to the ECHR and the ECtHR, a summarization of the facts and legal claims involved in G.S.B. v. Switzerland, a description of the Court’s main legal reasoning supporting its holding, and some concluding thoughts on the potential impact of the judgment on international income taxation, bilateral tax agreements, and extraterritorial jurisdiction. The holding in this case is a step in the right direction with respect to increasing transparency between the U.S. and Swiss tax systems, and raises important considerations regarding balancing of individual privacy rights with states’ broader economic rights. (more…)
The reputation of private prisons has taken a beating during the last few years. Undercover reporting in private prisons has revealed horrifying conditions and violence. Scholars have largely turned against private prisons, supporting their opposition on both philosophical and practical grounds. Further, the Department of Justice (DOJ) announced in August 2016 that it would phase out the use of private prisons. However, few alternatives to private prisons have been proposed. This Article proposes an alternative: charter prisons, run through public-private partnerships, which will be capable of providing more services to prisoners without increasing the cost to taxpayers. (more…)
[I]t is of the utmost consequence that the people should discuss the character and qualifications of candidates for their suffrages. The importance to the state and to society of such discussions is so vast and the advantages derived are so great that they more than counterbalance the inconvenience of private persons whose conduct may be involved, and occasional injury to the reputations of individuals must yield to the public welfare, although at times such injury may be great. The public benefit from publicity is so great and the chance of injury to private character so small that such discussion must be privileged.
The words of Coleman v. MacLennan, penned over one hundred years ago, ring as true today as they did when written. Of course, since Coleman was decided, the way people and publications express themselves have changed in a number of ways. For example, print media has largely been replaced by electronic media. Many publications have online versions or publish exclusively in electronic form, and individuals can broadcast their opinions to large segments of the population via a growing number of social media platforms. Despite such changes, the proposition that individuals should be able to freely express their thoughts on candidates for office remains a bedrock principle of our democracy.
Randall Fincke (Fincke) was an entrepreneur on a mission to expand automated electronic defibrillation (AED) technology. In 2000, Fincke and a business partner formed Access Cardiosystems, Inc. (Access) to market, manufacture, and sell Fincke’s new AED technology. From its inception, Access was not financially stable, and in early 2001, Fincke was forced to invest his personal funds into the company. Subsequently, Fincke began to look for outside investors to help fund Access’s business operations. Eventually, Fincke found three loyal investors (the Investors), who invested 4.6 million dollars in Access between the spring of 2001 and June 2002.
Uber is an internet-based service provider, found as an application on a mobile phone. The service it provides: connecting ordinary people who need a car ride to a nearby location with ordinary people who are offering to provide a car ride in their own car. Uber is intentional in describing itself as not being a taxi-service. And in Uber’s five short years of existence, it has managed to provide what many deem as a radically better service than the traditional taxicab, leading to a detrimental effect on the business outlook of the taxicab industry. In response, the taxicab industry is pointing out an unfairness: Uber provides a service that resembles a taxicab service, yet avoids having to comply with the very regulations that are meant to protect taxicabs from competition. Instead of changing how they themselves conduct business in order to become competitive with their new competition, taxicab companies are taking Uber to court, going on strike, and petitioning legislatures and regulatory agencies to put an end to Uber, declaring Uber “illegal.” This has lead Uber to fight back strong by reiterating that it is not a taxi-service, but is merely a platform that connects people to people. This disagreement has escalated to the epitome of a modern day “war” between the political entrepreneur (those who use political capital to maintain the status quo) and the market entrepreneur (those threatening the status quo) and threatening the very existence of a sharing economy.1
On July 1, 2014, in AbbVie Deutschland GmbH & Co. v. Janssen Biotech, Inc.,1 the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit affirmed a district court’s decision invalidating the claims of two antibody patents for failing to meet Section 112’s written description requirement.2 Specifically, the court took issue with the patents’ functionally defined antibody-genus claims, concluding that the patentee failed to disclose a representative species of antibodies diverse enough to support the patents’ broad genus claims. Also of note was the court’s consideration of the preclusive effect of decisions by the Patent and Trademark Office’s Board of Patent Appeals and Interferences (Board). Moving forward, the AbbVie decision casts doubt on the validity of functionally defined genus claims, particularly in highly technical fields such as biological sciences, and it closes the door on parties attempting to make collateral-estoppel arguments based on interference decisions that are in the process of being challenged under 35 U.S.C. § 146. (more…)
Reflections on organizing an academic gathering easily risk becoming a navel-gazing exercise, and not a very interesting one at that. Those risks notwithstanding, I wish to use the occasion of an April 2014 program at Suffolk University Law School to champion the virtues of smaller academic events that promote genuine dialogue and move at a slower, more contemplative pace. Although I do not promise that I will offer anything especially profound here, this may plant a seed in others to develop similar programs and even have some fun in the process.
“With the check written but not yet signed, he swiveled back in his desk chair and seemed to ponder. The agent, a stocky, somewhat bald, rather informal man named Bob Johnson, hoped his client wasn’t having last-minute doubts. Herb was hardheaded, a slow man to make a deal; Johnson had worked over a year to clinch this sale. But, no, his customer was merely experiencing what Johnson called the Solemn Moment—a phenomenon familiar to insurance salesmen. The mood of a man insuring his life is not unlike that of a man signing his will; thoughts of mortality must occur.”
In the above excerpt from his true-life crime thriller, In Cold Blood, Truman Capote touches upon two important insights regarding estate planning. The first is the connection between the traditional estate planning tool of the will and newer modes of posthumous wealth transmission, such as life insurance. Capote’s second important insight is the connection between estate planning and mortality. Putting one’s affairs in order, whether through the execution of a will or the purchase of a life insurance policy, places death at the forefront of one’s mind.