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Recent Blog Posts

  • What’s Privilege Got to Do With It? Practical Tips for Managing Bank Regulators Access to Attorney-Client Privileged Information The attorney-client privilege, which prohibits the compelled disclosure of confidential communications between an attorney and their client, is enshrined in common law and statutory codes across the country. See, e.g., Cal. Evid. Code § 950 et seq.; Upjohn Co. v. United States, 449 U.S. 383, 389 (1981) (the fundamental purpose of the attorney-client privilege “is to encourage full and frank communication between attorneys and their clients and thereby promote broader public interests in the observance of law and administration of... More
  • SEC San Francisco Regional Enforcement Director Confirms SEC Private Company Enforcement Trend Will Continue At a recent panel organized by San Francisco’s Federal Bar Association, the San Francisco Regional Director of the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), Jina Choi, confirmed that the agency continues to focus on investor fraud in the pre-IPO private market space. Highlighting enforcement actions against the non-public Zenefits, Credit Karma, and Theranos[1], Ms. Choi reiterated the SEC’s commitment to aggressive oversight over “unicorns,” or privately-held companies valued over $1 billion. The SEC first announced its intent to step up enforcement... More
  • With Zenefits Settlement Award SEC Demonstrates Continued Commitment to “Unicorn” Scrutiny Despite Administration Change: Same Old Sheriff in Town Last week the SEC announced it had reached an agreement with privately-held company Zenefits, and its co-founder and former CEO Parker Conrad, to settle allegations that Zenefits materially misled Series B and C investors. The parties agreed to settle for over a combined $980,000 (Zenefits agreed to pay $450,000, with Conrad responsible for the balance). This appears to be a first-of-its-kind SEC enforcement action against a privately-held company, reflecting this ongoing enforcement priority for the agency in Silicon Valley.  As the... More
  • The Fourth Amendment Implications of Sharing Server Space The prosecution of Martin Shkreli, whom the BBC has called “the most hated man in America,” reveals some important lessons about the Fourth Amendment protections against search and seizure in the digital corporate context: physical access to documents on a server may trump actual ownership of records. In December 2015, former head of the pharmaceutical company Retrophin, Martin Shkreli, was indicted for conspiracy to commit securities fraud. Federal prosecutors in Brooklyn have alleged that Shkreli raided Retrophin to pay investors in... More
  • If You Give a Mouse a Cookie: Ongoing Regulatory Monitoring Increasing in Federal and State Non-Compliance Resolution Earlier this year we highlighted the growing trend of regulators asserting continuing post-investigation control over the operations of companies accused of compliance failures. At the state level, we highlighted a deal reached between the California Department of Industrial Relations (DIR) and Zenefits, a privately-held health care brokerage firm, in which the DIR agreed to forgive half of a $7 million fine in exchange for continuing audits to evaluate future compliance with state regulations. At the federal level, we’re seeing the same... More
  • Is There Fire Where There’s Smoke? The FTC Says Yes In January of this year, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) brought suit against Taiwan-based D-Link Corp. and its U.S. subsidiary, D-Link Systems Inc, in Los Angeles Federal Court, for failing to properly secure its consumer routers and computer cameras. According to the FTC, the devices were billed as containing “advanced network security” but actually left thousands of devices vulnerable to hacking and compromise. The results of this FTC suit could create a de facto security compliance regime for all purveyors... More
  • Revenge of the Whistle-blower: Possible Consequences of Compliance Failures In a company with a robust compliance culture, potential whistleblowers can express their concerns without fear of retribution. By contrast, the penalty for a culture that silences whistleblowers just got steeper.  Companies caught punishing those who raise red flags, especially when they turn out to be lawyers, could be forced to confront documents otherwise inadmissible against the company due to attorney-client privilege.  Sanford Wadler was once the General Counsel for the Northern California-based pharmaceutical company Bio-Rad. In February 2013, Wadler reported... More
  • Steep Fines for Company With Compliance Problems, but Recognition of Remediation Efforts May Provide Model Going Forward After a series of compliance failures leading to the resignation of company’s CEO, the privately-held health care brokerage company Zenefits was just hit with a $7 million dollar settlement by the California Department of Insurance (DIR). The terms of the settlement may reflect a new trend in compliance enforcement, namely that regulators are trading monetary penalties for oversight over privately-held companies. Founded in 2013 and once valued at $4.5 billion, Zenefits provides Human Resources and health care brokerage support to small... More
  • Private Company Enforcement: Bay Area Tech Company Designs Tech Solution to Its Compliance Problems The brightest minds in Silicon Valley work 24/7 to disrupt existing systems and industries. No one can argue that Uber and Lyft haven’t fundamentally altered transportation, that AirBnB hasn’t changed the way we travel, or that Netflix hasn’t rendered brick and mortar video rental stores obsolete. Can those same minds harness the innovative energy of the region to make it easier for regulated industries to comply with state and federal laws? At least one Silicon Valley company thinks so, and... More

Firm Highlights

Publication

Year-End Estate Planning in an Election Year

The 2020 election is less than a month away and year-end estate planning is already underway for many. Under current law, the estate, gift and GST (generation-skipping transfer) tax exemptions for 2020 are set at...

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Event

3rd Annual BASF Cannabis Conference

Jeff Hamilton will moderate the program "All of the “Hot Topics” in Cannabis” at the 3rd Annual BASF Cannabis Conference. Details: The BASF Cannabis Conference provides attorneys an opportunity to enhance their practical skills...

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Publication

The Election Season Is Upon Us: Guidance for Managing Political Expression in the California Workplace

In a year of extraordinary events, this election has been more divisive and controversial than any other in recent history. Many employers are grappling with how they should manage political expression in the workplace...

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Event

LSI's PFAS Contamination and Regulation in California Virtual Conference

Sarah Bell will be speaking at LSI's virtual conference on PFAS Contamination and Regulation in California live webinar, "PFAS and Hazardous Materials Cleanup Laws." Details: CWA violations, CERCLA designations, and NRD claims as potential game...

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News

3 Things To Know After Busy WDTX Patent Judge's 1st Trial

Eugene Mar spoke to Law360 about the  MV3 Partners LLC v. Roku Inc.  case in the article, " 3 Things To Know After Busy WDTX Patent Judge's 1st Trial." In the article, Eugene said he's...

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Event

Trade Secrets Protection, Enforcement & Litigation West Coast Conference

Eugene Mar is a featured panelist at the Trade Secrets Protection, Enforcement & Litigation West Coast Conference virtual event.

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News

Alexis Sinclair Joins Farella Braun + Martel’s Financial Services Industry Group

SAN FRANCISCO, October 14, 2020: Northern California legal powerhouse Farella Braun + Martel is pleased to announce that business transactions lawyer Alexis Sinclair has joined the firm as special counsel in its Financial Services...

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News

More Americans Are Renouncing Their Citizenship

In the article, "More Americans Are Renouncing Their Citizenship," originally published in The Wall Street Journal , Erin Fraser discusses tax and estate planning issues related to renouncing U.S. citizenship. Link to the full article .

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Publication

Ashley Breakfield CREW SF Interview on Diversity

Farella's Ashley Breakfield is a member of CREW Network's Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Task Force . She spoke about diversity efforts with Commercial Real Estate Women of San Francisco (CREW SF) President Samantha S. Low, LEED AP.

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Publication

Insights Into the First Patent Trial in Waco, Texas - MV3 Partners v. Roku

A 7-person jury in Waco, Texas, recently returned its verdict in the first patent trial held before Judge Albright: defense verdict, no finding of infringement. In the MV3 Partners v. Roku dispute, MV3 Partners...

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