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PricewaterhouseCoopers Announces Opening of US Law Firm

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As the American Bar Association Journal reported last month, the Big Four accounting firms have legal divisions operating overseas that are on a par with the largest law firms in the world according to a report by ALM intelligence. Not long after that report was issued, PricewaterhouseCoopers announced that it would open a law firm in Washington, D.C. In the US, almost all jurisdictions have ethics rules that bar nonlawyer ownership and management of law firms, along with fee-sharing with non-lawyers. DC does not ban multidisciplinary practices owned by nonlawyers.

Law firm leaders are aware of the Big Four threat. 66% of partners surveyed said they were concerned about alternative legal service providers and accounting firms and 64% said accounting firms moving into the legal vertical was a bigger threat than the expansion of in-house legal departments, e-discovery vendors and legal process outsourcing companies.

The report notes that the Sarbanes-Oxley law, passed after the collapse of Enron in 2001, prevents auditing firms from providing a range of core legal services in the United States. But regulators allow accounting firms to offer nonauditing services, including legal services, to companies for which they don't serve as auditors, the ALM report says.

A chilling wind may be blowing soon – I think the law firm leaders justifiably feel a frisson of fear.

E-mail: snelson@senseient.com Phone: 703-359-0700
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josephwebster
7 days ago
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Denver, CO, USA
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2017: It’s the greatest time to be alive and simultaneously the worst

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How did we get here?

Bob Lefsetz writes the Lefsetz Letter, an email newsletter about music and culture, where this was originally published. Subscribe here.

IT'S THE AGE OF THE INDIVIDUAL

It's all about you, your brand, you're on your own and it's your obligation to establish your status. Used to be you were a member of the faceless masses. Now you're defined online yet retain your anonymity, since in a world of competing identities no one stands out, and when someone does, you wonder why you can't be them. But the truth is there are great swaths of people who are unaware of your hero, seemingly no one dominates, there's no backbone to our culture, it's a swarming mass of unconnected dots, so you just retreat to your mobile and post away about your life, believing it will lend definition, but it doesn't.

MASTERY IS IMPOSSIBLE

You used to know every album, every TV show, every movie. Now there's so much it's incomprehensible. Everybody's talking about their favorites and you feel left out. You want to dig deep and feel a member of the club but who has time to see 13 episodes of this and 39 of that. Meanwhile, those who have not gotten the memo keep telling you they know what's going on and you're inadequate when the truth is no one knows and they're inadequate too.

POSSESSIONS HAVE LOST THEIR MEANING

This is something the older generations cannot accept, just like their forebears could not accept the tumult of the sixties, when the baby boomers disconnected from them. Used to be you were defined by what you owned, that determined status. Now youngsters want to own little and have everything on demand, they want to be foot loose and fancy free. If you're rooted to your big home and your fancy car you're over the hill. Especially when they release a new version of everything soon and what you own is obsolete. That's right, you installed a 5.1 or 9.1 or 13.1 (no that doesn't exist yet, but it will!) system in your house and then find out it's obsolete because it's not voice-controlled and your TV is too small and only 1080 and you get overwhelmed and accept where you are. The hamsters run the wheel trying to keep up, but nobody can keep up. It's really about you and your circle, your own little life, but that would remove you from competition, and life is a sweepstakes, where you're ranked by your credit score, your Instagram followers, and if you're on Twitter, Facebook and Snapchat too, you've got no time to spare, social media is a videogame, even more powerful and addictive than anything emanating from a console, the goal is to post and post until your statistics triumph but just when you've climbed the mountain they change the game with a new platform and you have to start scoring again. It's tedious, and it doesn't keep you warm at night.

ONLINE STATISTICS ARE FAKED

This is the conundrum. You judge someone by their numbers but are they real?

EVERYONE CHEATS

Bill Clinton made it legitimate. Everybody lies to get out of a hole. So you do too. Lawyers took a hit during Watergate and the profession has never regained its status. Truth is for pussies, wimps, everybody's trumpeting falsehoods, it's a cultural cancer. And the person standing up for the truth is more interested in the personal accolades than the cause.

YOU'VE GOT TO SERVE SOMEBODY

No one is disentangled. Bob Dylan had it right. Lisa Bloom is defending Harvey Weinstein whom she has a deal with, because being a lawyer is not enough, you have to be rich and famous and part of the entertainment club.

IF YOU'RE NOT WORKING ON YOUR STATUS, YOU'RE LOSING IT

You've got to be in front of the public every damn day or you're forgotten. Take a couple of years off to lick your wounds and inspire yourself and good luck coming back.

LIFE IS SPORTS

There are two teams, right and left, it's totally tribal, and you're either on one or the other, no one picks one from column A and two from column B.

GROUPTHINK IS PARAMOUNT

You don't want to go against the crowd, against your team, otherwise you'll be ostracized. A nuanced appraisal which shows the situation is complicated just sets you up for hatred from your supposed brethren. The scourge of our society is silence. It's not the law that's got us shutting up, but peer pressure.

FORGIVENESS IS RARE

Commit a faux pas and you're history, taken out of the game, eaten by the lions, hopefully you've got enough money to sustain, because you're not gonna earn any more in your chosen field.

THE MORE EDUCATED YOU ARE, THE MORE SUSCEPTIBLE YOU ARE TO QUACK MEDICAL THEORIES

The elites believe they know better, but they feel powerless like the poor. But they assert their power by believing in quack remedies and refusing to get their children vaccinated.

THE ELITES HAVE CONTEMPT FOR THE POOR AND HAVE NO IDEA HOW THEY LIVE THEIR LIVES

They worked hard to make it, you should too.

So in a world where everything is available at our fingertips, we feel overwhelmed, we feel inadequate, we don't know what our place is in society. We want to fit in, and we don't want to sacrifice our identity to do it. But everywhere we go people are talking about what we don't know and we feel powerless to effect change and all we keep reading is about titans who triumphed who say it was easy leaving out how aggressive they were and what corners they cut.

So the irony is those complaining the loudest are the problem. The newspapers saying they're underpaid. It won't be long before you'll pay for all news, Google is changing its policy, one article will no longer be free. And record companies have buried all the gems from the Napster era. All the alternative and live takes, the unreleased stuff, it's not on Spotify and it's not on YouTube, it's underground once again, meanwhile, the industry is making more money, via streaming.

And the movie industry does not care about you, just China, which invests in it, and the rest of the world which pays to see its high concept movies. How can it be no one you know goes to the movies yet they still get so much ink?

And since everyone needs to be and is entitled to be famous, rankings are abhorred. We cannot separate the wheat from the chaff. So there's an endless buffet of items from McDonald's as well as Spago. You just end up eating at the same place. And eating is another incomprehensible endeavor, you've got to know every food truck and every chef and have an unlimited budget to partake.

Meanwhile, the rich are getting richer and you're still complaining.

So, it's the greatest time to be alive and simultaneously the worst. No one can be bored anymore, the history of entertainment is at your fingertips and you can communicate with everybody you've ever known instantly. But you're lacking meaning in life, while charlatans tell you they have the answer, whether it be the religious right or the bogus left. So you're left with yourself, which brings us back to the beginning, you're fighting for your space on the planet yet keep being told you don't matter, and feeling meaningless to boot. How did we get here?

One thing's for sure, we're never going back. Ignore the Luddites complaining about the negative consequences of screen time, they think if they yell loud enough the past will come back, but it won't.

And the tech titans lack moral responsibility.

So it really does come down to you, and humanity. Give up the race to consume. Give up the attempt to be all-knowing. Information is important, but soft knowledge eclipses it. Relationships, philosophy, those haven't been changed by the technological revolution, but they've been backwatered by industrialists who want to sell you something.

We are in a personal crisis. A moral crisis. We're unsure how to lead our lives. We want someone to make sense of it all, to point us where to go, so we can be part of the universe, feel connected, because too much of this so-called connection online is leaving us unfulfilled. We've got the bounty, but we're empty inside.

When you get the answer, tell me.

Bob Lefsetz writes the Lefsetz Letter, an email newsletter about music and culture, where this was originally published. Subscribe here or follow Bob on Twitter at @Lefsetz.


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josephwebster
12 days ago
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Denver, CO, USA
JayM
12 days ago
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Atlanta, GA
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Russia Reportedly Hacking Phones of NATO Troops

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I guess the title of this post should come as no surprise. As Endgadget reported, the Wall Street Journal has learned that Russian hackers are targeting the phones of individual NATO soldiers, particularly those deployed in Poland and the Baltic states. They are compromising phones or Facebook accounts, in some cases grabbing data from handsets and erasing contacts. While the Russians have issued standard denials, officials seem to have little doubt that Russia is responsible for the attacks.

The attacks are very well-coordinated, and the equipment used is probably too sophisticated for criminals. A probe spotted a portable antenna used to compromise phones, for example, while drones are also part of the campaign. Even the way soldiers learn of the hacks suggests an official Russian campaign: American soldiers have had strangers (probably Russian agents) come up to them citing details of their personal lives.

It's pretty easy to defeat these campaigns. In response to one incident, soldiers pulled SIM cards from their phones and were barred from going online beyond specific, locked-down hotspots. Estonian recruits are barred from using smartphones during operations.

The attacks thus far have not done much and are primarily harvesting data that is public. Officials think they are primarily intended as intimidation. "We're watching you" seems to be the message.

They may also be a way of finding out whether or not troop levels at a specific base are larger than NATO claims on the record. The real concern is that there may come a time where these hacks cause serious damage. A hacked phone might serve as a Trojan horse if it connects to a secure network, for example. The recent hacks no doubt have armies rethinking their smartphone policies to eliminate even the slightest risk of hacking attempts on the front lines.

E-mail: snelson@senseient.com Phone: 703-359-0700
Digital Forensics/Information Security/Information Technology
https://www.senseient.com
https://twitter.com/sharonnelsonesq
https://www.linkedin.com/in/sharondnelson
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josephwebster
12 days ago
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Facebook from combat zones seems like a really bad idea even without nefarious hacking.
Denver, CO, USA
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Equifax: Crimes and Misdemeanors

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Unless you’re living under a rock somewhere, you know that Equifax just reported a breach that resulted in the loss of 143 million customer records. Yahoo may still hold the record for the largest breach in history, but Equifax now holds the record for the stupidest. In the Cybersecurity world, Equifax is the new poster […]

The post Equifax: Crimes and Misdemeanors appeared first on Netswitch Technology Management.

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josephwebster
23 days ago
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Denver, CO, USA
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Hey, Congress: If You Really Want to Help Puerto Rico Recover, Dump the Jones Act

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Puerto RicoPuerto Rico is in a dire state after Hurricane Maria. The island has lost all power even as a heat wave bakes it—and it may be months, not days or weeks, before electricity and services are restored. Meanwhile, the place's agriculture industry has been decimated. Recovery will require the island to import everything from lumber to food to fuel to medical supplies.

Unfortunately, a protectionist law may get in the way. The Jones Act—technically, the Merchant Marine Act of 1920—has had nasty financial impacts on trade to Puerto Rico and many other port cities and islands within the United States and its territories.

The Jones Act requires that all ships traveling between U.S. ports be made, owned, and crewed by Americans. So a ship from another country, or whose owners are from another country, cannot travel from port to port within the United States delivering or picking up goods.

Fortunately the Department of Homeland Security has recognized this problem and has waived the Jones Act for fuel shipping for the time being. But given the tremendous amount of devastation Puerto Rico faces, the costs that are going to be involved in recovering, and the already poor financial state of the island, there has never been a better time to dump the Jones Act entirely.

The Jones Act exists to boost the American shipping industry. It has long contributed to the dramatic costs of shipping to Puerto Rico. A New York Fed report from 2012 shows that it costs twice as much to ship something from a port in the U.S. mainland to Puerto Rico as it does to ship to Jamaica and the Dominican Republic nearby. There are only a handful of Jones Act–compliant options, and that lack of competition allows U.S. shippers to charge much higher prices.

People who think the government should intervene to stop price-gouging during a disaster should know the Jones Act practically facilitates it and makes recovery all the more expensive. Cato Institute Adjunct Scholar Scott Lincicome warned about the consequences in 2015:

During the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, the government...refused to issue Jones Act waivers so foreign vessels could aid in the cleanup and containment. Despite several offers for foreign assistance during an ongoing ecological disaster, the government cited the Jones Act to justify turning them away. Many suspect that the Obama administration was reluctant to go against the pro-Jones Act labor unions (tr. every labor union) he needed to cement his re-election. It's not a leap to say that such cronyism may have delayed the eventual resolution of the spill.

In response to Puerto Rico's current crisis, Lincicome tells Reason if a complete repeal is not in the works, then at the very least its rules should be waived for all shipping to Puerto Rico for the foreseeable future, not just for shipping fuel. "You're looking at a clear and avoidable economic burden being placed on the people of Puerto Rico," he says.

He adds that the island's citizens suffer this economic burden every day as it is. It's only being temporarily halted due to the crisis.

"We're alleviating that burden because they're a sympathetic group right now and there's a spotlight on the tragedy," Lincicome says. "In the good times or normal times, those costs are considered OK. It's a really sad state of affairs."

Lincicome has seen no evidence that the disaster might cause Congress to rethink the law. Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) periodically attempts to get the Jones Act repealed, but nothing comes of it. And opening America's ports to foreign competition certainly doesn't seem like something President Donald Trump is likely to embrace.

"In this political environment it's going to be pretty darned tough to get Republicans on board," Lincicome says. "Politicians are convinced that protectionism is good politics."

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josephwebster
23 days ago
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Denver, CO, USA
kazriko
25 days ago
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Colorado Plateau
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Deloitte Breached: Data of Blue Chip Clients Compromised

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The Guardian reported on September 25th that "big four" accountancy firm Deloitte was victimized by a cyber attack that compromised confidential e-mails and plans of some of its blue chip clients. Deloitte provides auditing, tax consultancy and high-end cybersecurity advice to some of the world's biggest banks, multinational companies, media enterprises, pharmaceutical firms and government agencies.

According to the newspaper, Deloitte clients across all of these sectors had material in the company e-mail system that was breached.

Thus far, six of Deloitte's clients have been told their information was "impacted" by the hack. Deloitte's internal review into the incident is ongoing. The hackers may have had access to data since October or November of 2016, but the hack was discovered in March of 2017.

The hacker compromised the firm's global e-mail server through an "administrator's account" that, in all likelihood, gave the hacker privileged, unrestricted "access to all areas." The account reportedly required a single password and did not have "two-step" verification.

E-mails to and from Deloitte's 244,000 staff were stored in the Azure cloud service, which was provided by Microsoft. The Guardian believes the hackers had potential access to usernames, passwords, IP addresses, architectural diagrams for businesses and health information.

The breach is believed to have been focused on U.S. clients and was regarded as so sensitive that only a few of Deloitte's most senior partners and lawyers were informed.

The Guardian was told that the internal inquiry into how this happened is codenamed "Windham." It has involved specialists trying to map out exactly where the hackers went by analyzing the electronic trail of the searches that were made.

Investigators have not yet discovered whether a lone hacker, business rivals or state-sponsored hackers were responsible.

Law firm Hogan Lovells has been retained to provide "legal advice and assistance to Deloitte LLP, the Deloitte Central Entities and other Deloitte Entities" about the potential fallout from the hack.

Deloitte confirmed it had been the victim of a hack but insisted only a small number of its clients had been "impacted."

The Guardian was told an estimated 5 million e-mails were in the "cloud" and could have been accessed by the hackers. Deloitte said the number of e-mails that were at risk was a fraction of this number but refused to comment further.

Deloitte declined to say which government authorities and regulators it had informed, or when, or whether it had contacted law enforcement agencies.

While all major companies are targeted by hackers, the breach is a profound embarrassment for Deloitte, which offers clients advice on how to manage the risks posed by sophisticated cybersecurity attacks.

E-mail: snelson@senseient.com Phone: 703-359-0700
Digital Forensics/Information Security/Information Technology
https://www.senseient.com
https://twitter.com/sharonnelsonesq
https://www.linkedin.com/in/sharondnelson
https://amazon.com/author/sharonnelson

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josephwebster
24 days ago
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Denver, CO, USA
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