Francince E. Friedman is Senior Policy Counsel in Akin Gump’s Washington D.C. office, focusing on public law and policy. Recently she has blogged about cybersecurity, data brokers, geo-location tracking, online advertising and social media.
What is your main practice area?
My main practice area is public law and policy – I began my policy career with a focus on tax policy and ventured into energy policy and data security and privacy issues as a result of client needs. When I joined Parven Pomper Strategies (which was later absorbed in to Akin Gump 6 months after I joined the firm), I was brought on to work primarily on tax issues but I have always loved having the flexibility to tackle any issue a client may throw at us. Recently I have been working on a variety of intellectual property issues for Samsung. Having been a general commercial litigator for the first three years of my legal career, I enjoy the challenge of new policy issues and have seen my practice morph several times in the past 10+ years!
What hot issues and trends are you currently seeing?
The overlap between cybersecurity, data security and consumer data, as well as government collection and use of data (i.e. the recent NSA issues), have been hot topics and will continue to draw interest. The challenge of these is finding the balance between protecting data, privacy and government access to information, not overburdening industry and not having such specific security requirements that you give a roadmap to those who would try to infiltrate the data.
How social media is treated by various laws is also an interesting new issue. Employers face tough questions related to social media policies, what they can research before hiring, firing, etc. There is overlap between social media issues and data/privacy too. It’s all interconnected and very complicated, which of course just makes it more interesting!
What are you currently working on that you never expected to be?
Intellectual Property. When I was interviewing for first-year lawyer positions, an IP practice of a big firm made me an offer because, despite not having an engineering or other “useful” degree (my undergraduate degree from Georgetown was in “Government”), they said any litigator can work on these issues and we could consult with engineers where needed. I didn’t believe them, but here I am now in the policy space doing just that!
Which blogs/web sites do you read the most?
Politico; IP Watchdog; HuffPo; Facebook; really Facebook - because I have so many Hill, Administration or other politically connected friends, it is always interesting to see what they are posting and I constantly discover articles of client interest when reading my “news feed.”
What do you like to do in your free time?
Free time? What is this thing you call free time? Just kidding, my non-work time is spent with my almost-two-year-old twin daughters, Mollie & Nola, my amazing stay-at-home dad husband, Michael, and our three-year-old dog, Murphy! I know first hand the power of social media as Murphy and the twins had a photo “go viral” last year (nearly 500,000 views) when a friend of ours re-posted on Reddit a picture Michael put on Facebook. Who doesn’t love babies and dogs?