The National Law Journal recently released its list of “The 100 Most Influential Lawyers in America.” The list includes such high-profile names as Barry Scheck of “The Innocence Project,” United States Attorney General Eric Holder and Google’s David Drummer. Also on the list this time around? Three prominent attorneys who work extensively in the field of privacy.

“It’s about the most exciting thing that has ever happened to me in my entire legal career,” said Lisa Sotto, CIPP/US, of making the list.

Sotto is managing partner at Hunton & Williams’ New York office, and her practice focuses on privacy, cybersecurity and records management. She also sits on the IAPP’s Board of Directors. She’s worked with clients extensively on issues spanning GLBA, HIPAA, COPPA, CAN-SPAM, security breach notification laws and global data protection laws. She started working in data protection and privacy in 2000, a time she calls the field’s “dark ages,” and she’s enjoyed watching the profession flourish since then, though she didn’t necessarily predict its current success.

“This was a serendipitous attraction to the field for me; we didn’t know where it was going at that time. We had very little competition,” she said. “Now, it would appear that virtually every large law firm has at least one or two people who dabble in privacy and data security. And there are many firms.”

Sotto says the reason for that is because businesses now understand, “in a fundamentally different way from a decade ago,” the importance of the data they collect and maintain. She says they now view data as a key business asset and understand the need to protect it from risk and manage it appropriately.

Also on the list is Cindy Cohn, legal director at The Electronic Frontier Foundation. She agrees with Sotto that it’s more important than ever to have privacy expertise in-house.

“We’ve seen a lot of companies get caught up and frankly embarrassed that they haven’t thought through the privacy implications of what they are doing,” she said, citing Google’s Street View controversy as an example.

Cohn has spent a significant portion of her career fighting government warrantless surveillance. She has worked on more than 40 cases against the government and national telecommunications carriers. She echoes Sotto’s excitement about making the list.

“Certainly the company…the other people on that list are really amazing,” Cohn said. “I’m honored to be even on the same list.”

She went on to say it’s essential to have “people who really are dedicated to thinking about the privacy implications of what particular technologies are doing and helping to educate folks,” adding the privacy professional shouldn’t be isolated but should instead “really create a culture across the organization. If we silo privacy in the privacy department, we’ll miss important things.”

Asked whether the presence of privacy professionals on the list indicates an arrival of the profession, Cohn said she believes privacy is increasingly on people’s minds, particularly when it comes to an uptick in surveillance measures.

“The government has been very audacious in its interest in using digital technologies to have better and more surveillance of people,” she said. “And that piggybacks on top of private companies who have really adopted a surveillance business model, where they are using their ability to track you and watch you online as a way to serve ads. And so these two things kind of boast the technological ability to surveill more people more of the time. And the ability to do better analysis in that have combined in a way that I think ordinary people are starting to realize.”

The list was last published in 2006 and is compiled based on recommendations by the journal’s editors and nominations from the legal community. That year, two attorneys working in privacy made the list, one of them being Cohn.

Also on this year’s list are California Attorney General Kamala Harris—who has spent part of her term leading a charge on consumer privacy protections, including calling out United Airlines in a Twitter post for not posting a privacy policy on its app and handing down guidelines for mobile app developers, a move that didn’t necessarily gain her votes in the proverbial popularity contest but indicated her commitment to the cause—and Steve Berman, managing partner at Seattle’s Hagens, Berman, Sobol & Shapiro, who argued the privacy litigation against CarrierIQ, which was accused of logging users’ keystrokes and other personal information.

Harris and Berman were not available for comment at the time this story was published.

Written By

Angelique Carson, CIPP/US


If you want to comment on this post, you need to login.


Board of Directors

See the esteemed group of leaders shaping the future of the IAPP.

Contact Us

Need someone to talk to? We’re here for you.

IAPP Staff

Looking for someone specific? Visit the staff directory.

Learn more about the IAPP»

Daily Dashboard

The day’s top stories from around the world

Privacy Perspectives

Where the real conversations in privacy happen

The Privacy Advisor

Original reporting and feature articles on the latest privacy developments

Privacy Tracker

Alerts and legal analysis of legislative trends

Privacy Tech

Exploring the technology of privacy

Canada Dashboard Digest

A roundup of the top Canadian privacy news

Europe Data Protection Digest

A roundup of the top European data protection news

Asia-Pacific Dashboard Digest

A roundup of the top privacy news from the Asia-Pacific region

Latin America Dashboard Digest

A roundup of the top privacy news from Latin America

IAPP Westin Research Center

Original works. Groundbreaking research. Emerging scholars.

Get more News »

IAPP Communities

Meet locally with privacy pros, dive deep into specialized topics or connect over common interests. Find your Community in KnowledgeNet Chapters, Sections and Affinity Groups.

IAPP Job Board

Looking for a new challenge, or need to hire your next privacy pro? The IAPP Job Board is the answer.

Join the Privacy List

Have ideas? Need advice? Subscribe to the Privacy List. It’s crowdsourcing, with an exceptional crowd.

Find a KnowledgeNet Chapter Near You

Talk privacy and network with local members at IAPP KnowledgeNet Chapter meetings, taking place worldwide.

Find more ways to Connect »

Find a Privacy Training Class

Two-day privacy training classes are held around the world. See the complete schedule now.

NEW! Raise Staff Awareness

Equip all your data-handling staff to reduce privacy risk, with Privacy Core™ e-learning essentials.

Online Privacy Training

Build your knowledge. The privacy know-how you need is just a click away.

The GDPR requires 75,000 DPOs

What’s the formula for DPO success? IAPP CIPP/E and CIPM training, certifications and our global privacy conferences.

Upcoming Web Conferences

See our list of upcoming web conferences. Just log on, listen in and learn!

Train Your Team

Get your team up to speed on privacy by bringing IAPP training to your organization.

Learn more »

CIPP Certification

The global standard for the go-to person for privacy laws, regulations and frameworks

CIPM Certification

The first and only privacy certification for professionals who manage day-to-day operations

CIPT Certification

The industry benchmark for IT professionals worldwide to validate their knowledge of privacy requirements

NEW! FIP Designation

Recognizing the advanced knowledge and issue-spotting skills a privacy pro must attain in today’s complex world of data privacy.

Certify Your Staff

Find out how you can bring the world’s only globally recognized privacy certification to a group in your organization.

Learn more about IAPP certification »

IAPP-OneTrust PIA Platform

Simplify privacy impact assessments with this cloud-based customizable platform - free to IAPP members!

72% say privacy is now a board-level concern

Find out more about privacy governance in the IAPP-EY Annual Privacy Governance Report 2016.

Privacy Vendor List

Find a privacy vendor to meet your needs with our filterable list of global service providers.

IAPP Communities

Meet locally with privacy pros, dive deep into specialized topics or connect over common interests. Find your Community in KnowledgeNet Chapters, Sections and Affinity Groups.

More Resources »

Time to Get to Work at the Congress

It's almost here! Thought leadership, a thriving community and unrivaled education...the Congress prepares you for the challenges ahead. Register now!

Plan for the Summit

The world’s premier privacy conference returns with the sharpest minds, unparalleled programs and preeminent networking opportunities. Registration opens December 19!

Intensive Education at the Practical Privacy Series

This year's Series spotlights Data Breach, FTC and Consumer Privacy, GDPR and Government privacy issues. It’s the education you need NOW. Early bird ends Nov. 4!

Speak at the Symposium

The call for speakers is open! The Symposium returns to Toronto this Spring and programming is now underway. Looking to share your privacy prowess? Submit by November 20!

Sponsor an Event

Increase visibility for your organization—check out sponsorship opportunities today.

More Conferences »

Become a Member

Start taking advantage of the many IAPP member benefits today

Corporate Members

See our list of high-profile corporate members—and find out why you should become one, too

Renew Your Membership

Don’t miss out for a minute—continue accessing your benefits

Join the IAPP»