The Work

November 5, 2008 6:30 AM

Memo to President-Elect Barack Obama

Posted by Ed Shanahan

From The Am Law Litigation Daily

Congratulations, Barack Obama.

76834646_8_2 You've now inherited what many consider the most daunting challenges a modern president has ever faced. You know about those two wars we're fighting and the greatest economic crisis this country has seen since the Great Depression. But, lest you forget, there are also plenty of regulatory and legal policy issues that also have to be addressed. Who should take the lead role in securities enforcement? What changes, if any, should be made to bankruptcy and employment laws? What should be the top priorities of regulatory agencies like the Federal Trade Commission and the Food and Drug Administration?

The American Lawyer solicited opinions, advice, and predictions on those topics from some of the brightest stars in the private bar for its special Litigation 2008 issue. Antitrust attorney J. Mark Gidley of White & Case, for example, told the magazine that the country's "amnesty whistle-blower program is in its awkward teen years right now" and that the Department of Justice needs "to rethink the transparency of the program." White-collar defense attorney Steven Molo of Shearman & Sterling believes your new attorney general will have to decide "how aggressively to use criminal law to address business misconduct, which can also be addressed through regulatory or civil suits." (You can guess where he's going with that.) And the ever-insightful Bill Lee of Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale and Dorr raises some tough questions regarding enforcement of IP rights in a global economy. "Wyeth and GlaxoSmithKline are building their newest and largest research facility in Shanghai," said Lee. "What will the IP protection be for the things built in China but developed by an American company?"

For historical perspective, the Litigation 2008 issue also describes how policies instituted at various agencies by the Bush administration have affected litigation in the United States--and how they will continue to have an impact. Here are reports on the FCC, the EPA, the FDA, the ICE, the Federal Reserve, and the Department of Education.

So, President-Elect Obama, when you get done cutting middle-class taxes, ending the war in Iraq, fixing health care, and moving the country toward energy independence, we've still got a few issues for you to take care of. Welcome to the hardest job in the free world.

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