Facebook Deputy General Counsel Returns to Gibson Dunn (1)

Feb. 16, 2021, 7:11 PM; Updated: Feb. 16, 2021, 10:54 PM

Former Facebook, Inc., deputy general counsel S. Ashlie Beringer has rejoined Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher in Palo Alto, Calif., as partner and co-chair of its privacy, cybersecurity and data innovation practice group, the firm announced Tuesday.

Beringer was most recently the vice president and deputy general counsel for Menlo Park, Calif.-based Facebook, where she worked for almost seven years until her departure last August. At Facebook, she oversaw the company’s litigation, regulatory, product and privacy issues during a time of both growth and turbulence.

“Before I landed on returning to private practice, I was also exploring in-house opportunities and came to realize that it was going to be very hard to find a role that would give me the same kind of strategic impact and access to existential global questions that really touched on the business’s future that I had enjoyed at Facebook,” Beringer told Bloomberg Law.

At Gibson Dunn, Beringer will advise tech companies on matters such as global regulations, data management, privacy, and security.

“I really feel I’m uniquely situated to help companies navigate global crises and global regulatory challenges, which is something that I did almost full-time at Facebook,” Beringer said. “I’ve now been in-house but also had a very successful practice as a partner at a law firm, and I’m really excited to bring the two together.”

Beringer’s tenure at Facebook beginning in 2013 has spanned some of the biggest legal and regulatory challenges that the social media giant has yet encountered, from questions about misinformation and the company’s treatment of user data around the 2016 U.S. elections, to antitrust inquiries targeting the company.

Beringer declined to discuss the matters she worked on at Facebook as the company is a Gibson Dunn client.

Complex Regulations

Beringer previously worked for Gibson Dunn starting in 2008, according to her LinkedIn profile. There, she was a litigation partner as well as a founder and co-chair of the firm’s information technology & data privacy practice group.

“There are many more laws in many more regions that companies need to navigate now than there were 10 years ago when I founded that practice group,” Beringer said. “It remains to be seen whether we’re going to see comprehensive federal privacy legislation, and so what we may see is more states stepping in to fill the void, which creates more complexity for companies.”

Beringer said the fast pace of legislation today makes it difficult for clients to find comprehensive privacy counsel and to determine how privacy laws affect their specific businesses. For example, she said, it might be easy to find a firm that specializes in GDPR, but that firm may not understand how GDPR intersects with the California Consumer Privacy Act.

Data privacy experience like Beringer’s remains in high demand in Big Law, especially in Silicon Valley. Mayer Brown said Tuesday that Vivek Mohan, Apple’s former head of information security law, will join the firm as a partner in Northern California.

Gibson Dunn frequently works with Facebook, and has represented the firm in 104 lawsuits since 2007, six of which were filed in 2020 alone, according to Bloomberg Law’s litigation analytics.

Among those is a recent lawsuit alleging that Facebook and voting machine company Dominion Voting Systems, Inc., and other named defendants, engaged in voter suppression during the 2020 presidential election. Facebook did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the case.

Beringer was an outside counsel for Facebook during her earlier stint at Gibson Dunn, representing the company in a 2011 settlement with the FTC over its handling of user data. Apple Inc. was another client.

Beringer worked at Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison earlier in her career.

Gibson Dunn picked up another returning lawyer this week, David Fotouhi, the Environmental Protection Agency’s former acting general counsel under the Trump Administration. He has rejoined the firm as an environmental litigation and enforcement partner.

(Updated with Beringer's comments and additional information throughout.)

To contact the reporter on this story: Ruiqi Chen in Washington, D.C. at rchen@bloombergindustry.com

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Rebekah Mintzer at rmintzer@bloomberglaw.com; Chris Opfer at copfer@bloomberglaw.com

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