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Debevoise Signs Cybersecurity Partner Gesser from Davis Polk (1)

Jan. 21, 2020, 11:00 AMUpdated: Jan. 21, 2020, 7:56 PM

Debevoise & Plimpton hired former Davis Polk & Wardwell attorney Avi Gesser as a partner in its cybersecurity and data security group, another sign the firm is broadening its cyber practice reach.

Gesser joins Debevoise on Tuesday and will be based in New York. The firm says he’s a leader on data issues, which are gaining traction as more types of industries face data security threats.

“Increasingly, all our clients are data companies and face risks on that front,” Gesser said.

Gesser said he’ll handle cyber crises and other incident responses and mitigation for Debevoise clients. He’ll increasingly also focus on advisory work with companies ahead of such incidents.

Companies are facing cyber threats from an ever wider number of sources, and in new forms, said partner Luke Dembosky, co-chair of Debevoise’s cybersecurity and data security practice, in the same interview.

That includes state sponsors, Dembosky said. He added that Iran and North Korea are cyber threats in ways they weren’t just a few years ago and are becoming more sophisticated in the types of attacks they’re conducting.

That’s partly why Debevoise decided to build up its cyber practice over the past few years, and growth has been “exponential,” Dembosky said.

Gesser said he retains great affection for his former colleagues at Davis Polk, but a move made sense because of the strength of different practice groups he’ll be part of or regularly interact with at his new firm.

“We saw a unique opportunity with Avi to add both a thought leader on the myriad data issues faced by our clients and a seasoned breach responder and investigator who can further bolster our cyber crisis response capabilities,” Debevoise Presiding Partner Michael Blair said in a firm statement.

Gesser rejoined Davis Polk in 2013, after around three years as a Justice Department prosecutor. That included time as deputy director of the Deepwater Horizon task force that investigated the deadly 2011 oil rig explosion.

Gesser’s arrival comes several months after Debevoise hired Lisa Zornberg as a partner in the firm’s white collar and regulatory defense group. She’s another cyber defense specialist and a former criminal division chief of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York.

The firm also recently said it’s moving its New York office to the booming Hudson Yards area on Manhattan’s West Side.

(Updated paragraph 10 to clarify the timeline of Gesser's work history. )

To contact the reporter on this story: Sam Skolnik in Washington at sskolnik@bloomberglaw.com

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Jessie Kokrda Kamens at jkamens@bloomberglaw.com; Rebekah Mintzer at rmintzer@bloomberglaw.com

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