Debevoise & Plimpton is bringing on Erez Liebermann, who was the co-chair of Linklaters’ U.S. data solutions, cyber and privacy group.
The move, announced Monday, adds more depth to Debevoise’s data strategy and security practice, an area that has become heavily competitive in Big Law. It’s also another reminder of the challenges facing Linklaters’ growth in the United States. Liebermann, based in New York, joined Linklaters in May 2021, when the firm launched a U.S. data and privacy group.
“I wasn’t looking to leave Linklaters, but after a few phone calls and the opportunity to work with some old friends, it’s a great fit for what I am doing,” Liebermann said in an interview.
Previously, Liebermann was the chief counsel for cybersecurity and privacy at Prudential Financial. Debevoise was outside counsel for Prudential Financial on cyber matters while Liebermann was there. “I’ve known the group (at Debevoise) for years and always admired them,” he said. “I knew how fantastic they were.”
Data security practices in law firms have seen increased demand in the last two years during the pandemic, and lawyers expect that demand to only increase, especially demand from financial services clients. Debevoise said Liebermann will be called upon to handle incident response situations as well as serve as a strategic adviser for clients in the financial industry, which often have more specific needs when it comes to cybersecurity.
“There is a level of judgment and poise in crisis when people are stressed out,” Luke Dembosky, co-chair of Debevoise’s data strategy and security practice, said. “The work we do spans legal, crisis communications, forensics and other areas. It’s an area where many people don’t even know the questions they should be asking, let alone the answers.”
Liebermann is well aware of the talent competition in the area. “There is a war on talent in this space,” Liebermann said. “There is currently a 3 million-person-shortage (including all areas of cyber, not just law) in the cyberspace.”
Dembosky said Debevoise now has roughly 25 attorneys who are focussed on cyber issues, but that can swell given the nature of the work.
Earlier in his career, Liebermann spent a decade with the Justice Department, where he served as deputy chief of the criminal division at the U.S. Attorney’s Office in New Jersey, overseeing white-collar crimes, and was chief of the computer hacking and intellectual property section.
Avi Gesser, the other co-chair of Debevoise’s data solutions and security group, noted that “Erez is about as good a candidate as you will find out there.”
In a statement, Linklaters said, “We wish Erez well in his new endeavor.”