Paul Hastings EU privacy leader jumps to Hunton Andrews Kurth in London

Signage is seen outside of the law firm Hunton Andrews Kurth in Washington, D.C., U.S., August 30, 2020. REUTERS/Andrew Kelly

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(Reuters) – Hunton Andrews Kurth said Wednesday it is expanding its privacy and cybersecurity practice in London with the addition of Paul Hastings’ EU and UK practice leader, Sarah Pearce.

Hunton Andrews Kurth is the latest U.S. law firm to bulk up its data privacy practice, with McDermott Will & Emery, Squire Patton Boggs, Mayer Brown, Orrick Herrington & Sutcliffe and Cooley all hiring data-focused partners earlier this year.

The firm anticipates an increase in client demand in the privacy practice in the EU and UK with regulatory concerns around Brexit, said Pearce, who has advised clients on data transfer norms following the UK’s departure from the EU.

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Pearce said the UK’s Data Protection and Digital Information Bill introduced in July varies from the EU’s existing data protection law, the General Data Protection Regulation, raising concerns that could “dramatically impact international transfer of data” between the two markets.

Privacy concerns around artificial intelligence also continue to rise, with draft laws in the EU and UK in the pipeline, said Pearce, who co-chaired Paul Hastings’ AI practice group.

Firms are also seeing an increase in client demand for privacy work stemming from a lack of clarity in transatlantic data transfer regulations. Europe’s top court has thrown out two data-sharing agreements between the United States and the EU, with a third now in the spotlight.

Pearce specializes in data risk management, compliance with UK and EU regulations and regulatory investigations, said Richmond, Virginia-headquartered Hunton Andrews Kurth in a statement.

Previously a partner in Cooley’s London-based technology transactions group, Pearce also advises clients on privacy and data security issues in commercial technology contracts, according to an archived bio on Paul Hastings’ website.

A spokesperson for Paul Hastings did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Pearce’s departure.

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Samatha Kucera