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On a recent Friday morning in Manhattan, Hogan Lovells partner Harriet Pearson has just finished presenting at the firm’s annual global client forum at the Harvard Club. The event is part of Pearson’s new life as a firm attorney. She joined Hogan in June after almost two decades serving a single client: IBM, where in 2000 she became one of the first-ever chief privacy officers in the Fortune 500. Pearson wasn’t only IBM’s CPO, but its security counsel, too. And while she believes the coming decade will be “explosive” in terms of privacy developments, her focus in the firm’s privacy and data security practice group will be on cybersecurity—at a moment when the U.S. government and the corporate sector are starting to grapple ever-more-vocally with both the physical implications of cyber attacks and the legal implications of protecting against them. “And the challenge there—as I was talking to our seminar attendees today—is that what general counsel, what corporate counsel need to be doing right now is undefined. There’s so much uncertainty in the environment,” she tells CorpCounsel.com, cloistered in a dark-paneled room in the neo-Georgian NYC landmark. “But that will get defined. It will get defined in part by legal proceedings, by regulation, by people working together to make policy, and I wanted to be part of that in a broader way.” In other words, Pearson is bringing the expertise she honed at IBM to a bigger audience, starting with explaining the corporate lawyer’s role in a company’s cybersecurity regimen. This fall for example, she counseled clients to respond to Senator Jay Rockefeller’s (D-West Virginia) letter to CEOs of the Fortune 500 regarding cybersecurity, which followed on the heels of a major cybersecurity legislative defeat. The senator’s questions for big corporations in and of themselves weren’t hard to contend with, she says. Though she does call Rockefeller’s efforts to solicit feedback from the country’s top chief executives “unprecedented” in Washington—and that should be a sign to the corporate world. “If it’s serious enough for a senator to write to you, then it’s serious enough to have an action agenda and a plan to manage your company’s participation,” she says. General counsel have an important role to play in evaluating the legal, reputational, and operational risks for a company’s cybersecurity, says Pearson. Here, she shares with us some key recommendations:

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