“I wanted to work on the biggest and most significant matters in my areas of practice, and with this firm’s reach, depth, and relationships, I was confident that I was joining a firm that would enable me to do so.”
- Harriet Pearson, Partner, Washington, D.C.
My practice focuses on privacy and cybersecurity. In the Information Age, almost every organization you can imagine needs help navigating the rules for what can and cannot be done with information, especially information that relates to their customers, employees, and other individuals. I am fortunate to have worked in these fields since the mid-1990s, allowing me to bring a seasoned perspective to clients.
We have 20 lawyers based in Washington, D.C. who focus on privacy and cybersecurity, and we work incredibly closely with colleagues across the United States and the world, especially in Europe and Asia, but also increasingly in Latin America and South Africa. Over 99 countries have enacted data privacy laws, so we have worked hard to develop a global practice.
Getting to know Hogan Lovells
When I decided to transition from in house to a law firm career, choosing Hogan Lovells was an easy decision given the firm’s strong global platform, collaborative culture, and exceptionally high-quality regulatory practices, including in my specialty areas of cybersecurity and data privacy. I wanted to work on the biggest and most significant matters in my areas of practice, and with this firm’s reach, depth, and relationships, I was confident that I was joining a firm that would enable me to do so.
Particularly because I was leaving a corporate position to enter private practice, I expected to be challenged and to have to work very hard to establish my practice. I have worked hard and have enjoyed the camaraderie and support of many dozens of friends and colleagues. What’s surprised me is how well my business experience — as an assistant general counsel at IBM with prior stints as a vice president in the company’s human resources and communications functions — translates into value-add for clients and Hogan Lovells itself. Every industry, including the legal services sector, is undergoing great change and having a broader perspective on strategy and change enhances the core legal work we do.
As a first-generation American, I am very much in touch with my European roots (my parents emigrated from Greece) and value the opportunity to think and work internationally. At Hogan Lovells, every day brings with it interaction with colleagues and clients literally around the globe. I love the intellectual and social challenge of deciphering the practical implications of laws and regulations in multiple countries, and applying that insight for the benefit of companies that operate internationally.
For me, the highlight of every day is interaction with clients. An engagement that stands out in my mind is an investigation I led for Bloomberg LP in 2013. When the company faced questions about their client data policies and practices, they retained the firm to conduct a thorough review of their practices in a very compressed amount of time and to recommend changes going forward that would restore customer and regulator confidence in the company. I led an incredible team of lawyers and professionals, many of whom became friends as a result and whose work was highlighted publicly by the client.
Beyond my practice, service to Hogan Lovells is also a prominent part of my day. I make the time to have at least one discussion or interaction almost every day with partners, associates, or business services leaders, to help advance initiatives that support our firm’s strategic priorities. There are opportunities at all levels of the business to work together to shape the future of our firm. About a year after I joined Hogan Lovells, I was asked to co-lead a firmwide task force that looked at the implications of changes underway in the legal market. I was delighted to engage and impressed that the firm welcomed the views and capabilities a lateral partner like me could contribute.
Word to the wise
If you are just starting your career, think about what the future of the legal services market looks like and what you want to get out of your career in this field, and with what kind of colleagues you want to work. Then, ask the firms or organizations that you are considering joining what their vision of the future is, how they see themselves evolving to stay successful, and how individual careers will be supported. When you ask Hogan Lovells these questions, listen carefully to the answers and do your due diligence, and you will — I believe — hear that Hogan Lovells has a compelling vision and a strong strategy that recognizes the future will be here before we know it. That’s the kind of firm that I would have wanted to join, were I starting my career over again.
If you are a lateral, my advice is to consider how your practice can benefit from the firm’s global network and culture of trust and collaboration. And if you work in a business services area, my advice is to ask about how your special skills will be put to use and valued, and what part you will play in the firm’s strategy.
Outside the firm
Launching our second child into college next year is a current priority. Otherwise, I love to travel with my husband, and until recently I sang competitively with an all-woman a cappella chorus. Choral singing is a team sport that I love — even though I’m not a great individual singer, a well-functioning chorus brings out the best in everyone and the focus and teamwork it takes to create a first-rate performance is hugely rewarding.
Dubbed by one legal publication as the “First Lady of Privacy,” I am one of the first and longest-serving chief privacy officers in the Fortune 500 and an internationally recognized data privacy and security pioneer. I joined our Washington, D.C. office in 2012 from the IBM Corporation, where I served as Vice President, Security Counsel, and Chief Privacy Officer.
In my practice, I advise a diverse group of companies and boards of directors on legal risk assessments and mitigation strategies; enterprise-wide governance and compliance programs; security and privacy incident responses and remediation; investigations and enforcement; cross-border data transfers; regulatory compliance; and legislative, regulatory, and self-regulatory processes.
I currently co-chair the Georgetown University Cybersecurity Law Institute and serve on the ABA President’s Task Force on Cybersecurity and on the advisory boards of the Electronic Privacy Information Center and the Future of Privacy Forum. In 2012, the Executive Women’s Forum presented me with its Corporate Practitioner “Woman of Influence” award for cybersecurity, privacy, and risk management.
I graduated with honors from the UCLA School of Law and Princeton University, where I majored in civil engineering.