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The Current State of Washington: The Year of Expecting the Unexpected

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WASHINGTON, October 25, 2017 - Baker Botts L.L.P., a leading international law firm, hosted a client briefing on October 24, 2017, in the firm’s Washington, D.C., office focusing on enforcement, investigations, and policy regulations that are evolving under the first year of the new administration. 

Baker Botts litigation, antitrust, IP, environmental, and securities lawyers analyzed how the current state of D.C. is due to significant shifts to government policies, agency formation, and regulatory priorities, among others, ushered in by the Trump administration. 

The firm also brought in General Counsel, VP’s, and Legal Principals and Directors from the technology, private equity, financial, energy and defense industries for an in-house counsel perspective panel, moderated by Partner Joe Ostoyich, on the changes the Trump administration has implemented and how these changes are impacting the way businesses work. 


  • The Current State of Washington: A View from Inside the Beltway – Partner Bill Bumpers moderated this panel where Partners Bill Jeffress, Brad Bennett, Michael Perry, and Kent Mayo provided insight on the dynamics around federal agencies, the current state of financial regulation, antitrust enforcement in the Trump administration, and a new environment for environmental actions. 


“The number of key positions at federal agencies for which no nominees have been announced undoubtedly reflects the administration’s determination to shrink the role of some of the agencies involved, and indicate the President’s priorities regarding others,”
said Mr. Jeffress.    

“Securities and Exchange Commission Chairman Jay Clayton is focused on cyber security and retail investor protection, not non-scienter systems and supervision cases.  However, if the SEC finds intentional or fraudulent misconduct that harmed investors or benefitted the corporation, it will impose severe sanctions,” said Mr. Bennett.       

“What this administration means for antitrust enforcement is more continuity than change - though there may be shifts in priorities and policies, possibly toward a more-business oriented approach, the early indications are that the overall enforcement approach will be largely consistent with prior administrations,” said Mr. Perry.    


“The Trump administration has taken immediate actions on big-ticket rules passed under the Obama administration but is also pursuing a broader regulatory reform agenda through its regulatory reform task force.  The challenge for the Agency will be to find sufficient resources and navigate procedural hurdles to achieve sustainable reform through the rulemaking process,”
said Mr. Mayo. 


  • Expecting the Unexpected - How to Handle a Federal Investigation in Today’s Dynamic World – Partner Alex Bourelly moderated this panel where Partners John Taladay and Bridget Moore gave an overview on conducting internal investigations under the current administration, and covered aspects surrounding reporting, defining the scope of investigations, Upjohn Warnings, employee interviews, special considerations in antitrust investigations, among other topics.  

“The corporate leniency policy of the Antitrust Division, which allows a company and its employees to escape all criminal penalties if they are the first to report, eliminates conflicts of interest that might otherwise between the company and its culpable employees,” said Mr. Taladay. 

“While we have yet to see a robust enforcement agenda coming out of the SEC, the importance of well run, targeted investigations has not changed,” said Ms. Moore. 

  • Cyber Events - Lessons Learned From 2016-2017: Critical Infrastructure Issues and the Latest Threat Landscape – Partner Brooksany Barrowes moderated this panel where Partners Luke Pedersen and Douglas Henkin presented the ongoing trends within the cyber spectrum including enabling technologies, cloud computing, new threat sources, and the importance of privilege to protect the enterprise. 


“The same technologies that fueled innovation and the economy for the last decade have contributed to many of the cyber vulnerabilities that exist today,”
said Mr. Pedersen. 


“Cybersecurity law is still in its early development and many regulators have difficulty keeping up with the pace of change in the threat environment. Given that cybersecurity is an enterprise risk and can impact the value – or even the existence – of a company, it’s wise to use regulatory guidance as a floor and stay ahead as much as possible,”
said Mr. Henkin. 

Baker Botts lawyers are available to speak on the overarching concerns and the prominent questions discussed in their panels. To speak arrange an interview, please contact Brecke Boyd at brecke.boyd@bakerbotts.com, or 202-6397896. 


 

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