Legal Industry

Another privacy leader swaps firms as McDermott practice head jumps to Willkie

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REUTERS/Tingshu Wang

(Reuters) - Willkie Farr & Gallagher is bringing on Laura Jehl as co-chair of its cybersecurity and privacy practice group, the firm said Monday, the latest in a string of law firms to add new leadership to a practice area that has seen surging demand in recent years.

Jehl, who has years of experience both at Big Law firms and in-house at AOL and a healthcare data analytics subsidiary of Anthem Inc, joins Willkie as a partner in Washington, D.C., from McDermott Will & Emery, where she was global head of the privacy and cybersecurity practice.

Law firms have been aggressively hiring privacy and cybersecurity lawyers as businesses grapple with an increasing number of domestic and global laws and regulations, rising cyberattacks and related litigation risks. The practice area can overlap with several others, including M&A, antitrust and labor and employment.

McDermott also recently lost cybersecurity and securities partner Paul Ferrillo to Seyfarth Shaw. Holland & Knight, Perkins Coie, Davis Wright Tremaine, Blank Rome, Squire Patton Boggs and Goodwin Procter are among other firms that have recently hired privacy or cybersecurity-related partners, including some in leadership roles.

Jehl, who practices at the "intersection of data, law and emerging technologies," is also joining Willkie's communications and media department, the firm said.

"Laura is a pioneer and well-known leader in the cybersecurity and privacy field, with substantial experience advising major companies on their most critical data challenges, and our clients and colleagues are going to benefit tremendously from her presence at Willkie," Daniel Alvarez, co-chair of the cybersecurity and privacy group, said in a statement. Elizabeth Bower is also a co-chair of the group.

New York-based Willkie has about 850 lawyers, the firm said.

"I look forward to working with my colleagues across the firm to help our clients navigate the rapidly changing privacy laws and regulations as well as emerging cybersecurity threats, incident response and compliance measures," Jehl said in a statement. She wasn't immediately available for comment.

Prior to joining McDermott in 2019, Jehl practiced at Baker & Hostetler and Sheppard, Mullin, Richter & Hampton, according to her LinkedIn page. She previously served as general counsel and chief privacy and security officer at Anthem subsidiary Resolution Health Inc, and as chief litigation counsel at AOL.

"We wish Laura the best in her future endeavors," a McDermott representative said.

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