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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

Bankruptcy Provisions in COVID Relief Legislation Impacting PPP Loans, Commercial Leases and Preference Claims

With the COVID-19 pandemic stretching on into another year, businesses continue to experience adverse effects. Bankruptcy filings, especially among retailers, were higher than average in 2020, and it is likely that more companies large...

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Publication

New Year, New CMS Price Transparency Rule For Hospitals

Transparency in health care pricing can help patients make informed decisions, increase competition, and drive down the cost of health care. Accordingly, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) has promulgated a new...

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Event

ACGSF: The Facts on SPACs

Drew Goodwin is a panelist at the ACG San Francisco live webinar, "The Facts on SPACs." Details: Join us for a discussion on special purpose acquisition companies. How are they raised, who invests; how...

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Publication

What to Do When Commercial Leases End Up in Bankruptcy

The COVID-19 pandemic is forcing many businesses to close, leaving landlords in the lurch. The COVID-19 pandemic continues to shake up the nation’s economy. Long-standing companies such as JC Penney, J. Crew, Neiman Marcus, Modell’s...

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News

Farella Braun + Martel Elevates Five to Partner

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Publication

Cannabis Industry, Including CBD Products, Subject to New Proposition 65 Warning Requirements

Updated Proposition 65 warning requirements for cannabis products came into effect on January 3, 2021. As of that date, anyone offering for sale cannabis products in California—including hemp-derived CBD products—must provide an appropriate warning...

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News

Lawyers Warn Those Bracing for Prop. 19’s Tax Hit: Act Fast

Evan Abrams spoke to the San Francisco Business Times for the article "Lawyers Warn Those Bracing for Prop. 19’s Tax Hit: Act Fast."  In the article, Evan said, “If you really want to do anything...

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Event

How Mentorship Advances the Careers of Diverse Lawyers

Buzz Hines and Kelly Matayoshi are panelists at this ABA Section of Litigation Judicial Internship Opportunity virtual program co-sponsored by the Diversity & Inclusion, LGBT Law & Litigator, Minority Trial Lawyer, and Woman Advocate...

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Event

Perspectives on Virtual Proceedings: ADR & Claims Resolution in a COVID World

Erica Villanueva will be speaking at the 2021 Virtual Insurance Coverage Litigation Committee CLE Seminar on "Perspectives on Virtual Proceedings: ADR & Claims Resolution in a COVID World."

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News

17 Firms Join Crowell in Seeking Trump's Removal

Farella is among 17 law firms joining Crowell & Moring in sending a joint letter to Vice President Mike Pence to call for President Donald Trump’s immediate removal from office and to urge Pence to invoke the 25th...

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