The next time Edelson P.C. takes a tech foe to court, the firm will have a former cybercrime prosecutor on its side.
The consumer class-action firm — which has a case pending against Facebook over its use of facial-recognition technology — has hired Alexander Nguyen, former deputy chief of the U.S. attorney’s cybercrime unit.
“Finding out about Edelson was really fantastic for me,” Nguyen said. “They really are the leader in this field. There is nobody who is close.”
Nguyen, 39, joined the U.S. attorney’s office in 2007 and prosecuted cases involving computer hacks, identity theft and child pornography. He moved from the prosecutor’s office in the Eastern District of Virginia to lead one of Edelson’s three litigation teams.
The firm primarily represents plaintiffs in class-action suits that allege technology-related invasion of privacy.
“He allows us to bring more cases, and he gives us a deeper bench when it comes to trying these cases,” said firm founder and managing partner Jay Edelson.
“He’s a type of a resource that we haven’t had before. All of his work has been in the same general area but on the prosecutor side. So we feel there is a lot that we can learn from him.”
Nguyen, who started Aug. 17, gives the firm six new attorneys since June.
Along with Nguyen are lateral associates Jonathan W. Hodge from Locke, Lord LLP and J. Aaron Lawson, a former 7th Circuit staff attorney.
Also joining the firm are three summer associates — Jamie J. R. Holz of The John Marshall Law School and Jennifer Lee and Alex Tievsky of Northwestern University School of Law.
A fourth summer associate, Todd Logan of Harvard Law School, starts next month, bringing the firm’s lawyer count to 23.
The expansion is the result of an “exploding” caseload, Edelson said.
“We just were turning a lot of cases away that we wanted to bring,” said Edelson, 42, who founded the firm in October 2007.
“In order to get to where we want to be as a firm, we know that we have to continue to grow.”
That caseload includes Spokeo, Inc. v. Robins, pending in front of the U.S. Supreme Court, in which the firm is one of three representing defendant Thomas Robins.
“We’re working in a fertile area,” said Lawson, who noted the impact of the Sony data breach or WikiLeaks on the public’s growing discomfort with new issues of electronic privacy.
“It’s just a fascinating time to be a part of this.”
The firm is split into three groups: an investigative team, a litigation team — itself with three teams — and an appellate team.
“We’re trying to allow ourselves to focus on litigating cases day by day and not have one case bog down an entire litigation group,” said partner Christopher L. Dore, who heads the investigative team.
Lawson joins the appellate team; Hodge joined the investigative one on June 1.
“The advantage of that kind of system is that you get to focus on what you really like doing,” said Hodge, who worked for Nucor Steel for three years as a coder prior to law school.
“Everything is structured to free up the attorneys here to do their best job for the client.”
Edelson called the firm’s growth “recognition of how much the law has shifted” when it comes to recognizing consumer-privacy rights.
“Five years ago, the consensus among commentators was that privacy lawsuits would never get off the ground,” he said.
“We were sure they were wrong and we were willing to build our firm around that notion. I think our growth is some sort of indication that privacy rights really do matter in this country.”