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The following is an excerpt from Practice Perspectives: Vault's Guide to Legal Practice Areas.

Lauren Tsuji, Counsel and Gabrielle Gallegos, Associate—Commercial Litigation (2022)

Lauren Tsuji is a litigator with experience in privacy, trade secret, and patent law. She has litigated in federal and state courts and has defended clients in consumer class actions, including actions brought under the Illinois Biometric Information Privacy Act (BIPA), state and federal data breach statutes, and other laws governing privacy and security. She litigates disputes involving the Stored Communications Act (SCA), Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA), Section 230, and the First Amendment. In addition, Lauren counsels technology clients on compliance with privacy and data protection laws.

Gabriella (Gabbi) Gallego has experience with a wide variety of data security and privacy litigation matters involving the Electronic Communications Privacy Act, the Stored Communications Act, and other federal and state privacy statutes. Gabbi counsels clients on the protection of personally identifiable information and infrastructure and other issues arising under security and privacy laws and regulations. She also counsels clients through data breach preparation and response, including responding to regulatory inquiries, and is involved in enforcement work for large technology clients. Gabbi maintains an active pro bono practice, working with a victim advocate association and various domestic violence organizations.

Describe your practice area and what it entails.

Lauren: I am a technology litigator with a focus on privacy and data security. This emerging area of the law is constantly evolving and, as a result, so is my practice. Currently, the work I do focuses on balancing innovation with individual rights to privacy and free speech. For example, I defend clients in privacy-related class actions, including cases seeking novel applications of state and federal privacy law. I also represent online service providers in opposing civil and criminal requests for records stored on behalf of users (e.g., subpoenas, court orders, and search warrants) that would violate the Stored Communications Act or Fourth Amendment. I also defend social media platforms in disputes related to content moderation decisions and free speech, including cases involving Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act and attempts to unmask anonymous online speakers. Pro bono work is also an important part of my practice, and I regularly litigate cases involving the privacy rights of victims and witnesses in felony sexual assault and domestic violence cases. 

Gabbi: We represent companies throughout every stage of the data life cycle—from the point when clients first think about their collection of user or consumer data, to complying with the ever-changing field of privacy laws, and representing clients who are facing claims that they’ve (allegedly) improperly handled the personal information of their users or consumers. I’m lucky enough to have a practice that allows me to engage in privacy counseling, compliance, and litigation. 

What types of clients do you represent? 

Lauren: Most of my clients are industry-leading technology companies, and I am currently litigating cases for some of the largest tech companies in the world. I also counsel startup clients on compliance with privacy laws and obligations with respect to third-party requests for user data. 

Gabbi: I work with a huge variety of clients from the largest technology clients, like social media companies and internet search engines, to smaller retailers and B2B companies. I also am fortunate enough to represent underprivileged individuals in my pro bono practice.

What types of cases/deals do you work on? 

Lauren: The cases I work on vary widely because privacy and data security cover a lot of ground. At any given time, I am typically working on eight to ten cases in federal and state courts throughout the country. For example, I am currently litigating a case involving novel claims about what constitutes unlawful “interception” and “recording” under the Washington Privacy Act, a case challenging the constitutionality of a social media platform’s content moderation decisions, and a number of cases alleging violations of the Illinois Biometric Information Privacy Act. 

Gabbi: Most often, I help clients get products launched and deals closed, and ensure that it’s done in a privacy compliant manner. Apart from that, I help clients build out their regulatory compliance programs by drafting privacy policies, terms of service, and responding to consumer inquiries. Finally, I represent social media companies in responding to civil and criminal requests for user data. 

How did you choose this practice area?

Lauren: While I don’t have an engineering or computer science background, I’ve always had an interest in technology. I like working with innovative clients and learning about their products and how they operate. I also like thinking creatively and problem solving, and as a practice area, privacy combines both interests. Many of the cases I get to work on raise questions of first impression, in terms of both the law and the technology at issue.  

Gabbi: I was in the right time at the right place is my usual answer. I thought I wanted to practice environmental law, but I found myself taking appellate advocacy where I “mocked” a real-life case that Perkins Coie actually represented. I found that area of the law interesting and loved the people in our Palo Alto commercial litigation group, so it was an easy sell.

What is a typical day like and/or what are some common tasks you perform?

Lauren: One of the things I like most about my practice is that there really is no “typical” day. Each day presents different challenges and opportunities to learn, and each case presents different issues, so I never have to worry about things becoming repetitive. That said, my days often include drafting motions, meeting with clients to talk through strategy, and negotiating with opposing counsel. Increasingly, I have also been appearing in court to argue motions in civil and criminal cases, which is always exhilarating.  

Gabbi: The best part of my job is that there is no typical day. For example, today I prepared for a hearing on an order to show cause in state court, drafted a data sharing agreement for a deal in Greece, developed an internal guide for handling employee data, and rounded it out by playing Top Golf with my fellow privacy colleagues. 

What training, classes, experience, or skills development would you recommend to someone who wishes to enter your practice area?

Lauren: Without question, the most valuable thing that I did in law school was clinic. Even though it wasn’t specific to privacy at all—I worked in the Stanford Immigrants’ Rights Clinic—that experience prepared me for the realities of litigation practice. Clinic was where I learned about case and client management, and where I found my voice as a lawyer. I would also recommend seeking out opportunities for legal research and writing, and really mastering the rules of civil procedure and evidence. 

Gabbi: Get CIPP US and EU certified—it’s very helpful! 

What do you like best about your practice area?

Lauren: I am genuinely excited about the cases I get to work on. I routinely litigate constitutional claims, and I get to work in an impactful and dynamic area of the law. 

Gabbi: Because it’s such a new area of the law, you really can become a subject matter “expert” within your firm sooner than you think. But then you wake up and the law has completely changed, so I feel like I’m always learning something.

What is unique about your practice area at your firm?

Lauren: Perkins Coie has one of the largest and most experienced privacy and data security practice groups in the country. The partners and associates that I work with are some of the smartest people I know, and many are leading experts in privacy law. I love collaborating with and learning from this uniquely talented group. 

Gabbi: The partners and senior counsel at Perkins Coie really work hard to make sure that you’re working on matters that interest you and will go out of their way to help you develop a practice you love.

What are some typical tasks that a junior lawyer would perform in this practice area? 

Lauren: Our group gives junior associates a lot of responsibility. It’s not uncommon for first- or second-year associates to draft dispositive motions or argue in court. On a day-to-day basis, I rely on junior associates for legal research and writing and supporting discovery and case management. 

Gabbi: Lots of research into how businesses are required to act under a particular law, drafting consumer-facing documents, taking the first stab at a litigation document, going on secondment to a client, the list goes on!

What kinds of experience can summer associates gain at this practice area at your firm?

Lauren: Summer associates in our group get opportunities drafting articles and client updates, summarizing recent court decisions and legislation, and researching and drafting client-facing memos. 

Gabbi: Definitely not a boring one! I’ve been at Perkins Coie since I was a summer associate and have supervised summers. We always strive to assign our summers interesting projects that they would typically find themselves handling as an associate.