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Ethical Considerations

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To Offer Sabbaticals or Not to Offer Sabbaticals… And if I Do, Should I Pay?

A Tale of Two Tricky (and Sometimes Dangerous) Dilemmas

Recently, I gave a webinar on establishing eligibility and procedures for taking sabbaticals and unpaid leaves of absence through Lorman Education Services. I thought some of the information I discussed might be of interest to our clients in the San Luis Obispo area, many of whom are cutting edge technology companies. This blog post will focus on sabbaticals, which are gaining popularity as companies struggle to recruit and retain talented, top-notch employees.

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Privacy Policies: Are You in Compliance?

My previous post was regarding cybersecurity and some of the dangers lurking behind our widely-used “secure” technologies and authentication systems. A related issue is what you, as a business owner, chief technology officer or other data collector, must do to advise customers and other users of your website of your privacy policies and procedures – in short, how are you going to protect their identities, credit card information and other personal data you collect? This post will address what is legally required of you if you collect any sort of data, as well as the question of whether you need to implement Terms and Conditions. Hint: the answer is yes!

Many businesses are required by law to have a Privacy Policy posted conspicuously on their website. In California, the law requires “any commercial web sites or online services that collect personal information on California residents through a web site to conspicuously post a privacy policy on the site.” California Online Privacy Prevention Act of 2003, Business & Professions Code §§ 22575-22579. In other words, if you are gathering the personal data of your website users, you must have a formal Privacy Policy.

The primary federal agency that regulates and implements rules and regulations related to data privacy is the Federal Trade Commission, but other federal and state laws and acts have provisions that impose requirements on certain persons and businesses. For example, the Americans With Disabilities Act, the Children’s Internet Protection Act of 2001, the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act of 1986, the Computer Security Act of 1997 and the Consumer Credit Reporting Control Act all have laws relating to data privacy. The bottom line is that you must know and comply with federal laws as well as the laws of your state.

Another thing you should strongly consider – implementing and posting Terms and Conditions, which may also be called Terms of Use. While not required by law (and undeniably the dullest page on your website), Terms and Conditions can limit your liability, set forth your security features, link to your Privacy Policy and define acceptable use of your site (for example, you can specifically prohibit certain “hacking” activities). Here is some sample language from a Terms of Use policy related to cybersecurity:

You agree not to misuse Acme Company’s services (“Services”) or help anyone else to do so. For example, you must not even try to do any of the following in connection with the Services:

breach or otherwise circumvent any security or authentication measures; or

violate the privacy or infringe the rights of others.

Terms and Conditions can and should be specialized to your unique business activities. In other words, copying one from another website, changing a few words and posting it is not the best means of implementing your Terms and Conditions.
In sum, cybersecurity and privacy are hot issues these days, and whether you are a business owner, chief technology officer or someone else in a position that requires you to deal with stored customer information, you have many duties in connection with protecting your customers’ information. If you have questions about cybersecurity or your compliance with privacy laws, or if you would like assistance drafting and implementing your Privacy Policy and/or Terms and Conditions, please contact me or one of our other attorneys at (805) 546-8785. The attorneys at Carmel & Naccasha have extensive experience in handling such matters and are happy to answer your questions and assist you.

The information contained in this article does not constitute legal advice and neither the author nor Carmel & Naccasha make any representations or warranties as to the accuracy of the information contained herein. Your access or reading of the article and/or your following of any of the suggestions contained herein do not create an attorney-client relationship between you and the author or you and Carmel & Naccasha LLP.

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Cybersecurity: Are You Protected?
Cybersecurity: Are You Protected?

I recently had the privilege of attending a TED talk-style seminar on cybersecurity at my alma mater, UCLA. The information I learned at this session certainly gave me pause, and I was anxious to share the information I learned with our clients and other readers of our blog. Perhaps the most interesting aspect of the lively discussion was the panelists – one, the former general counsel of the National Security Agency (“NSA”) and the other, a benevolent hacker.

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Tenant Leaves Pet Behind. What’s a Landlord to do?

You are a landlord and you suspect your tenant has moved on but left behind her personal property, including her dog.  You’re savvy enough to know that the law views pets as personal property and you’re worried about getting dinged for removing a tenant’s property without a court order or giving written notice as required by statute.  

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The California State Bar and the Accused Trust Attorney

Sometimes it seems like the news is full of stories about attorneys being investigated and even arrested for taking money that belongs to a client or someone else.  You may have recently heard about an attorney that you know and even like whose office was visited by State Bar investigators while he was escorted to jail.  So let’s just say for fun that you recently sat down in front of the TV or picked up the newspaper only to see a local attorney’s actions splashed on the news.  You then learn that investigators from the State Bar of California descended into the attorney’s law office and removed the client files.  What is going on?  It’s not your trust attorney but should you still be worried?

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Social Media Policies

Just a short while ago the response of business to employees’ use of social media during the workday was simply that it was not allowed.  More recently, as the line between personal and business use of social media blurs, businesses are developing social media policies to be used in the workplace.  Such policies serve the purpose of clarifying appropriate use of technology while at work while acknowledging that employees take advantage of technology throughout the day for personal and business reasons. 

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Professionals and Social Media

We pride ourselves on our ability to effectively communicate with coworkers, clients and the community at large via an array of technological tools.   Professionally, we may be members of LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter or a host of other social media networks. 

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Cupid Client

With Valentine’s Day behind us, now might be a good time to talk about attorney client relations.  The next time your phone call is placed on hold for an interminable time or you find yourself without reading material while waiting for an airplane, take a look at attorney reviews.  Scroll past the eponymous posts and the ones that disclose or admit sharing the same gene pool, to find the real opinions.

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Of Counsel or Off Counsel

What’s your definition of the term “Of Counsel”?   Your idea of Of Counsel may just depend on whether you are a retired judge, or a lawyer seeking to keep your hand in the practice of law.  Or perhaps you’re a young, dynamic attorney looking to market your firm and want to reach a wider constituency either by adding an Of Counsel to your firm or by having yourself designated as Of Counsel at another firm.

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