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Top Privacy Partner Joins McDermott As Cyber Practice Head (1)

Oct. 24, 2019, 4:48 PMUpdated: Oct. 24, 2019, 9:14 PM

McDermott Will & Emery has hired the co-chair of BakerHostetler’s blockchain technologies and digital currencies team as its global head of privacy and cybersecurity practice in Washington.

An experienced privacy and cybersecurity attorney, Laura Jehl has spent the past three decades handling complex data security incidents and led investigations both in-house and in private practice.

She has also advised on matters related to blockchain technology and digital currency and has helped businesses conduct privacy risk assessments and responses to government investigations.

Many of her clients are multinational or global in scale and their data issues are becoming increasingly global so they need to have resources around the world, Jehl said.

McDermott, she said, offered a strong global footprint with a strong bench of lawyers in its practices, including cybersecurity and healthcare. But her move also gave her the opportunity to lead a practice, as she did in the past, at a time when the privacy and security-related issues affecting clients are becoming increasingly more complex.

“The opportunity to lead building the right kind of practice that focuses on the issues that I think are most important to clients was kind of too good to pass up,” Jehl said.

Jehl, a former Covington & Burling associate, joined BakerHostetler in 2017 from Sheppard Mullin Richter & Hampton, where she co-chaired its privacy, data security and blockchain technologies team.

From 2009-15, Jehl was general counsel and chief privacy and security officer Resolution Health Inc., where she played a key role in management of the 2015 cyber-attack on its parent company Anthem Inc. that affected roughly 80 million people.

Jehl was also the former vice president and chief litigation counsel at America Online Inc., where she led AOL’s response to several government investigations including early Federal Trade Commission’s investigations into privacy matters. She also played a crucial role in securing U.S. and international regulatory approval for AOL’s merger with Time Warner, Inc. in 2000.

Her experience as a former general counsel and executive means that Jehl truly understands clients’ needs, McDermott Chairman Ira Coleman said in a statement.

Clients need experts like Jehl who have the experience developing front-end compliance measures and working with government regulators and enforcement agencies to provide advice and counsel that addressed their most sensitive and complex data-focused issues, Coleman said.

And there’s a lot demand for attorneys in cybersecurity and privacy space, particularly in the U.S., but there aren’t a lot of attorneys that have been practicing in the space for a long time, Jehl said.

“It’s a constant need to keep learning and constant need to keep reading and educating each other and dividing and conquering among a privacy team,” she said.

Jehl said the firm is definitely looking to grow its practice with the right team and as a part of that will be to train the next generation of lawyers who are eager to build careers in the field. “The number of young lawyers who say they want to go into privacy is remarkable to me because it didn’t used to be much of a thing,” Jehl said.

(Updated with comments from Jehl throughout.)

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