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

Lauren Gallo White, Partner—Litigation (2023)

Lauren Gallo White is a partner in Wilson Sonsini’s internet strategy and litigation group, where she represents internet and digital media companies in complex, high-stakes litigation related to online content hosting, online speech, privacy, and intellectual property. She has significant experience litigating cases in both federal and state courts, frequently authoring successful trial and appellate briefs. Lauren regularly provides guidance on issues related to platform design, marketing, and general operations, including matters relating to content hosting, removal, and filtering, as well as decisions about data use and management.

Lauren is lead counsel for Google and YouTube in a range of cases attacking their decisions about whether and how to display content online. She has secured numerous precedent-setting victories in cases involving Section 230 of the CDA, the First Amendment, federal and state anti-discrimination laws, the DMCA, the Lanham Act, the Video Privacy Protection Act, the Wiretap Act, and the Anti-Terrorism Act.

Lauren maintains an active pro bono practice and regularly authors amicus briefs on behalf of public interest groups in cases addressing important legal and policy issues related to free speech, technology, privacy, and intellectual property.


Describe your practice area and what it entails.

I represent some of the most innovative internet companies in the world in high-stakes litigation related to whether, where, and how they display content online. Many of my cases involve Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act (which provides immunity to online service providers acting as publishers of third-party content), the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, and/or the First Amendment.

What types of clients do you represent?

The nature of these cases means that most of my practice is for late-stage technology companies that are the subjects of large and complex litigations, such as Google and YouTube.

What types of cases/deals do you work on?

Gonzalez v. Google, which is pending before the Supreme Court, is one of a series of cases brought by victims of terror attacks around the world alleging that content appearing online inspired people to join terrorist groups and allowed those groups to grow in influence, contributing to the attacks. We litigated these cases successfully in district courts and courts of appeals around the country. Gonzalez is the Supreme Court’s first case to consider Section 230, and it will consider whether the statute protects online services that make “targeted recommendations” of content online.

There’s also a series of cases against various online platforms arguing that they censored political speech, and we have successfully defeated several of those cases on behalf of YouTube and Google. In Prager v. Google, the Ninth Circuit held that YouTube is not a public forum and can’t be held liable as a government actor under the First Amendment. Earlier this year, I argued Doe v. Google, where the Ninth Circuit held that YouTube could not be held liable for violating the First Amendment based on a theory that it conspired with government officials. And the First Amendment can be a sword or a shield, either an affirmative claim brought against a service provider or a defense. In NetChoice v. Moody, we successfully argued that Florida’s online content moderation law should be enjoined for violating the First Amendment rights of online platforms to decide what speech to allow on their services.

I’m also working on a copyright case called Schneider v. Google. It’s a class action led by a jazz composer, a Russian audiobook publisher, and a Bollywood movie production company. They are copyright holders who allege that YouTube should be held liable for copyright infringement where YouTube creators used their content.

How did you choose this practice area?

I love the arts, and I am fascinated by the way that the internet facilitates connections, communication, and the creation of new creative works. Section 230 and copyright law are both areas that gravitate around where creativity comes from, how ideas are shared, and how new things come to be, so it was a philosophical interest that led me here. I was a rhetoric and English major, and I wrote my senior thesis in college about the law and language in the DMCA. Then I spent my 1L summer interning at the Electronic Frontier Foundation, and I just was fascinated by all the novel questions that arise in this area—and remain fascinated by them to this day.

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

Wilson Sonsini has a nationwide practice, so I go online at 6:30 a.m. to catch up on East Coast colleagues’ emails and look at my agenda for the day. I break to help my kids get dressed and out the door, then settle back into my workday. Days vary, but the kinds of things I do include meeting with clients to talk abut the status of cases and strategic decisions we need to make in litigation; meeting with my internal teams to discuss strategies for dispositive motions; meeting with clients to conduct fact investigations and discuss issues related to civil discovery; meeting with opposing counsel and collaborating with co-counsel; and, hopefully, between all those meetings, finding time to read new cases and to write and revise briefs. Because my practice often involves novel theories of liability, a lot of the cases turn on legal questions that are resolved in briefs and argument as opposed to through discovery and trial, so I do a lot of brief writing. I go offline later in the day to spend time with my kids and put them to bed, and work in the evening to find some concentrated writing time when email is a little slower.

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

Judicial clerkships offer an invaluable insight into the way judges think, as well as the range of styles that litigators can have and their effectiveness. Writing is incredibly important—take as many opportunities to write as possible, such as courses in legal writing and advanced brief writing.

I believe you can learn the substantive stuff as you go. I don’t subscribe to the belief that you have to take all these law school classes in admin, evidence, and federal courts (though I did learn a lot from those courses)—take classes that sound interesting to you and that will help you find a practice area that keeps you excited and engaged. Beyond the 1L core curriculum, you should be guided when choosing classes much more by what you love.

Part of what drew me to this practice was that it involved services and technology that I actually use, and having that familiarity is a huge advantage in thinking about how to tell stories and frame issues in litigation. Coding fluency and tech degrees are not at all required in my practice, though if you have them, that can be a real asset to teams.

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

Legal research and factual investigations are two incredibly important parts of our practice area that junior lawyers often take a big role in. They are wonderful learning opportunities where newer lawyers can use a specific assignment as an opportunity to learn the substantive law in the area. Factual investigations, where you review internal documents and master the facts underlying the case, make junior associates invaluable litigation team members.

A great thing about our practice group is that we work on cases as small as one individual plaintiff against one defendant and as large as giant multidistrict class actions. That variety of scale affords junior attorneys the opportunity to play different-sized roles in different-sized cases. In smaller cases, they can play a lead role and touch on every aspect of a litigation, which allows them to take on more in bigger cases as they gain more experience. The experience of working with the most innovative companies in the world, as we do, opens all kinds of doors.

How do you see this practice area evolving in the future?

The only constant in this area of law is change. There is constant regulatory, legislative, and judicial interest in online content, and passionate disagreement on how to approach it. The common law is always evolving, and judicial opinions are in constant flux as new tech emerges, as more people use existing tech, and as people find new ways to use and misuse technology. I don’t foresee an end to that.

The Gonzalez case this term is likely going to change the way courts construe Section 230 in the future. The NetChoice cases are likely going to change the way courts think about the First Amendment protections for online service providers. Because the tech is constantly changing, courts are constantly issuing decisions that change our strategies and results. That makes it a wonderful practice area for young lawyers to get into—a constantly clean slate. Law students and young lawyers who are interested in technology can jump head-first into this area and add value quickly; they bring a fresh way of thinking about tech and help develop more effective ways to tell stories through litigation.

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

Summer associates can and should do everything our junior associates do. Just like associates, I want them to write a lot and research a lot, and to help me prepare for hearings and arguments. I love having them help moot before an oral argument or a hearing because they often bring the freshest outside perspective—the closest to what a clerk would bring to their judge. I like to bring summer associates into court to watch hearings and into client meetings so they can observe the day to day and ask questions. Summers at Wilson should get a great sense of how entrepreneurial our firm is and how possible it is to carve out your own specialty based on your experience and interests. At our firm, that often means moving around the boundaries of practice areas to work with partners across the litigation department. It’s great for them to experience different styles and different specialties.

What advice do you have for lawyers without technical or science backgrounds who want to practice in IP?

Copyright law, while very legally technical, is not necessarily “technically technical,” at least not in cases involving copyrights in music, movies, text, images—the kinds of things I work on. I don’t have a tech degree, but I’ve been interested in these issues for a long time. For Section 230 and First Amendment issues, technical experience and knowledge about how computers and algorithms work can be a great asset, but they’re not required. My advice is just to read a lot and don’t be afraid to ask questions and ask for help and advice when you need it.