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Freshfields Grows in Silicon Valley with MoFo Privacy Partner

Aug. 9, 2021, 4:26 PM

Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer is continuing its new Silicon Valley office expansion by adding Morrison & Foerster data privacy and security partner Christine Lyon.

Lyon, who first joined MoFo in 1999, will serve as co-head of Freshfields’ global data privacy and security group alongside U.K.-based Giles Pratt and Germany-based Norbert Nolte.

She works with companies to develop privacy and data protection strategies for new products and services as well as compliance programs for their customer and employee data.

Lyon becomes the latest addition to the data privacy and security team, which in May picked up Brock Dahl, a cybersecurity expert and former deputy general counsel at the National Security Agency. Freshfields has been on a steady march of expansion in the U.S. over the last few years and opened an office in Silicon Valley last summer.

Lyon said moving to Freshfields presented a “compelling combination” of a global platform with the expertise of a Silicon Valley-based team who had practiced there for many years.

She has worked with startups to large multinationals companies throughout the lifespans of their products and services, particularly as they build privacy protections into B2B and B2C offerings that include artificial intelligence and data analytics.

Lyon also helps clients navigate emerging data protection laws, such as the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA).

She recently advised Salesforce on IP and data privacy matters related to its $27 billion acquisition of Slack and $15.7 billion acquisition of Tableau as well as OpenInvest’s sale to JPMorgan and HealthcareSource HR’s acquisition of General Electric’s Centricity Contingent Staffing business.

“Clients in Silicon Valley are really looking for global strategies and solutions around privacy,” Lyon said. “It’s not sufficient to try to build something and then try to retro fit privacy into your project or service.”

Freshfields opened its Silicon Valley office with seven partners, including Sarah Solum, a founder of Davis Polk & Wardwell’s Northern California office and one of the top corporate lawyers in the Bay Area, as well as Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati securities litigator Boris Feldman, who has represented many technology giants like Google, LinkedIn, Netflix, Facebook and Hewlett-Packard.

Freshfields, which signed a 10-year lease in Redwood City, also picked up John Fisher from Sidley Austin, Maj Vaseghi from Latham & Watkins, and Doru Gavril from Wilson Sonsini to open its office. The firm also added Kirkland & Ellis M&A partner Joseph Halloum.

Clients need global solutions for how to deal with privacy or data rich questions and a firm that can be pragmatic about how to solve those issues internationally, Pratt said.

Lyon’s pedigree working for decades with tech companies in the Valley and beyond “enables us to be so credible with clients, speaking their language, helping us translate all of those global rules into something which is just one solution internationally,” he said.

Freshfields is combining its privacy expertise across all of its key centers in Europe, Asia and the U.S., with its transactional practice, which has also been expanding at a rapid pace for the U.K.-founded firm.

Freshfields picked up a four-partner team in New York from Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton, including M&A rainmaker Ethan Klingsberg, who has advised the likes of Google, Pintrest and Hewlett-Packard, in late 2019.

Since then, it has picked up a second four-lawyer M&A team from Cleary, as well as several other partners from Latham & Watkins and Willkie Farr & Gallagher.

Roughly 90% of deals that walk through the door place a value on data and managing cyber risk so having the data and data privacy practice is fundamental for clients, Pratt said.

“Being able to combine that pragmatic depth of privacy expertise with the transactional skill sets means in essence we’ve got people who know all the rules, know how to translate them and get deals done for our clients so they can acquire and build data rich businesses at the pace that they want,” Pratt said.

To contact the reporter on this story: Meghan Tribe in New York at mtribe@bloomberglaw.com

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Chris Opfer at copfer@bloomberglaw.com; John Hughes at jhughes@bloombergindustry.com