Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer is hiring Brock Dahl, a former deputy general counsel at the National Security Agency, as the U.K-founded firm that opened in Silicon Valley last year continues to bolster its technology practice.
Dahl will serve as counsel at Freshfields, working out of Washington and Silicon Valley. He said in an interview he anticipates advising clients on issues including cross-border data transfers, data breach incidents, shifting ad-tech policies, and emerging areas such as a new subpoena power being wielded by the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency.
Freshfields is the latest Big Law firm to grow its cybersecurity and data privacy practice, an area in high demand with cyberattacks on the rise and new data regulations being proposed and implemented at a rapid clip by U.S. states and foreign jurisdictions.
Boris Feldman, Freshfields’ U.S. technology practice head, said Dahl adds an important piece to the firm’s Silicon Valley office, which opened in July last year with attorneys from several rival Big Law firm outposts in the region.
“We knew from the beginning if we were going to have a tech-centric office in the Valley that cyber would be a key component of that,” he said in an interview. “Historically Freshfields was viewed outside the U.S. as the top cyber and privacy firm in the world. What [Dahl] does is bring the already existing U.S. practice in cyber up to that existing level.”
Freshfields has lately been on a U.S. growth spree that’s also included lateral hires in New York and Washington. The firm’s Singapore-based leader, Georgia Dawson, told Bloomberg Law in an April interview that unlike other U.K-founded firms that have tried to move into the U.S. market via merger, Freshfields is “building teams rather than buying” with targeted hires.
Dahl worked at the NSA for six years, finishing his tenure at the agency in a role advising leadership on how to fit their work within the boundaries of state, federal, and international cyber, privacy, and national security laws. He previously worked at Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati, where he overlapped with Feldman, a tech industry-focused litigator who was hired last summer by Freshfields to help open in Silicon Valley.
Dahl said Freshfields’ global data and privacy practice drew him to the firm, citing the client work generated by the hodgepodge of rules facing international companies as they manage data.
“There’s no doubt that the cross-jurisdictional complexity is going to continue to rise,” he said.
Other Big Law firms that have deepened their privacy and security benches this year include Squire Patton Boggs, Mayer Brown, Gibson Dunn & Crutcher, and Goodwin Procter.
Dahl, a Wichita, Kan. native, worked in Iraq and Afghanistan for the U.S. Treasury Department before obtaining his law degree in 2011. He speaks Arabic and holds an advanced degree in modern Middle Eastern studies.
Dahl headed to Silicon Valley after law school to pursue another passion: entrepreneurship. His father, a Kansas state judge, also teaches a class on the topic at Wichita State University.
“I grew up learning about entrepreneurship being the lifeblood of the American economy and really what makes us distinct and special,” he said. “I felt really excited about the tech sector and opportunities for growth there.”
Jake Holland contributed to this article.