Michelle Visser has extensive experience in defending companies that face the regulatory investigations, class action litigation, and payment card brand claims that frequently follow the announcement of cybersecurity incidents. In addition to litigating privacy and cybersecurity matters, Michelle has navigated numerous companies through their cybersecurity response, including by overseeing technical forensic investigations, advising on notification obligations and coordinating communication strategies.
When faced with an incident, companies call Michelle for crisis response with an eye toward potential litigation. Clients also look to Michelle for privacy and cybersecurity advice before a crisis is at hand. Michelle regularly takes the lessons learned from litigating privacy and cybersecurity matters to provide clients with proactive advice on how to structure their privacy and cybersecurity programs and incident response plans in ways designed to reduce legal exposure.
For her role in representing companies that have faced some of the most high-profile cybersecurity incidents and litigation to date, Michelle was named one of the “40 Under 40” in 2018 by the Global Data Review and a “Rising Star” by Law360 in 2015. She was also recognized as one of the “Women Leaders in Technology Law” by The San Francisco Recorder in 2015.
Michelle is also regularly turned to for defense against other types of class actions and complex litigation with experience in defending companies against securities, antitrust, and other commercial claims.
The possibility of a cybersecurity incident—and ensuing litigation—is a fact of life for almost every business. Even companies that do not process or handle consumer information collect personal information about their employees that can be targeted by hackers or phishing scams or even inadvertently disclosed, exposing the company to potential liability.
While eliminating cybersecurity litigation risk entirely likely is not feasible, recent cases do highlight some steps that companies seeking to reduce potential exposure to cybersecurity litigation can take:
(1) Recognize that pre-incident statements about the company’s cybersecurity measures can be used to sustain deception-related claims.
(2) Assess the “reasonableness” of your cybersecurity, despite the difficulty of doing so.
(3) Pay attention to how you structure cybersecurity initiatives to protect related documents and communications based on the attorney-client privilege and work product protection.
(4) Recognize that your statements about a cybersecurity incident may be relied on by courts to sustain plaintiffs’ claims.
(5) Consider arbitration clauses, but do so cautiously.
(6) Consider opportunities to contractually allocate or disclaim liability. READ MORE
Webinar | September 26, 2019
Please join Michelle Visser and Nicole Gelsomini for the Cyber, Privacy & Data Innovation practice’s webinar “Defining ‘Reasonable’ Security Under California’s New Privacy Law.” READ MORE
Privacy & Cybersecurity Litigation partner Michelle Visser, counsel David Cohen and associate Nicole Gelsomini authored this blog post for the Washington Legal Foundation on the unsettled state of the law on constitutional standing in privacy and cybersecurity cases in the wake of two recent Supreme Court developments. Constitutional standing challenges are, and will continue to be, an important potential tool for privacy and cybersecurity defendants seeking to dismiss certain class actions brought in federal court. To establish standing, a private plaintiff must show, among other things, that he or she faces an actual or imminent concrete injury from the defendant’s conduct. As explained in the Washington Legal Foundation post, however, the Supreme Court recently passed on two chances to clarify the test that will govern this standing inquiry, leaving defendants to wade through conflicting and ambiguous lower court precedent. The uncertain and nuanced state of this area of law underscores the importance of retaining experienced cybersecurity and privacy defense counsel when faced with this type of suit.