New Whistleblowing Rules And The iPad Apps To Manage Them

Yesterday, the SEC decision on the The Dodd–Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act sent corporate America back in time. Famous whistleblowers—Daniel Ellsberg with the “Pentagon Papers,” Jeffrey Wigand  with “impact boosting” nicotine in cigarettes, Roy Olofson with telecom fraud, Cynthia Cooper with WorldCom accounting fraud, and Bunnatine Greenhouse for her exposure of non-bid contracts at Halliburton[1]—came to mind as the SEC ruled in a 3-2 vote that employees with knowledge of wrongdoing or malpractice are not required to report it first through internal company channels to be eligible for a reward.[2]  

Corporate America is none too pleased at the idea that the new rules may motivate workers to bypass traditional fraud hotlines implemented after the 2002 Sarbanes-Oxley law so as to collect a whistleblower bounty. The WSJ first reported this malcontent by quoting a statement from David Hirschmann, president and CEO of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s Center for Capital Markets Competitiveness:   

“Not informing the company of a potential fraud and waiting for the SEC to act is the equivalent of not calling the firefighters down the street to put out a raging fire.”

The good news for lawyers is that new rules usually make for more lawsuits. In light of these changes, employees may feel more inclined to report corporate fraud or other illicit activity to their attorneys or the SEC. In terms of empowering shareholders and individual staff, National Whistleblowers Center Executive Director Stephen M. Kohn said, “Today, investors and whistleblowers scored a major victory.”  

Whether advocate or foe of yesterday’s ruling, one thing is certain. These days, technology—specifically computers, social media, smart phones, and portable electronic devices—make smuggling whistleblowing information to your lawyer a lot easier.

So, here is a list of smart phone and tablet apps that lawyers (say, perhaps, those at Vinson & Elkins?) wish they had back in 2005.

  1. Legal Notes (The Lawyer’s Notepad) by Kavapoint LLC. This app turns your iPad into a yellow legal pad for those lengthy client meetings or late-night calls from whistleblowers. Not only can you scribble down important facts (Name: Sherron Watkins, Date: 2006, Company: Enron, Position: ex-VP), but lawyers can also time stamp their notes, password protect the information, and compile relevant court details (hearing, court, judge, location, etc).
  2. TrialPad by Saurian. Once trial is imminent, use this app to organize, manage, and annotate Adobe PDF files on the iPad. TrialPad was specifically designed for litigators to store key documents easily and quickly for electronic presentations. Created by legal professionals and trial consultants, this app allows lawyers to separate case folders to sort your most important pieces of evidence. $89.99
  3. RLTC: Evidence by Rosen LTC, inc. Another app designed for trial lawyers to organize and annotate documents and images on the iPad. Via the iPad VGA Adapter, lawyers can use Evidence to project their most valuable pieces of, well, evidence. $4.99
  4. Fastcase by Fastcase. For both the iPad and iPhone, Fastcase is a free legal research application, which means no more trips to the law library. With statues from fifty states and the federal government and the ability to keyword or customize your search, lawyers can visually map search results—with dual-column printing and compete citation analysis—in the palms of their hands. Fastcase has a desktop application as well, for the gadget-impaired.
  5. The Law Guide by Is your unofficial law mentor the Internet? Mine too. So consult more clandestinely from your desk via its mobile app, The Law Guide. The app contains a comprehensive law dictionary, law guide containing legal discussion forums (for addressing questions like, why did Watkins do it? Will class action mean the demise of Enron?), a lawyer directory, and myriad other legal resources. If your standards for credibility require paid apps, then try Black’s Law Dictionary for $54.99, an app from West, Thomson Reuteurs business.   

In conclusion? The Government Will Pay You Big Bucks To Find The Next Madoff.  And now, in 2011, law firms can manage the fallout more efficiently.



See, Persuading Managing Partners To Employ Social Media.

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