Baker, Donelson, Bearman, Caldwell & Berkowitz has hired attorney Aldo Leiva, who specializes in privacy compliance and cybersecurity issues, to work in its Fort Lauderdale office as a member of the firm’s data protection, privacy and cybersecurity team as well as its business litigation group.

Leiva joins the firm as of counsel.

Aldo Leiva

Leiva has extensive experience in data security and will be a great addition to that practice, said James M. Talley, managing shareholder of Baker Donelson’s Orlando and Fort Lauderdale offices.

“His knowledge of the rapidly changing laws impacting data security and privacy at federal, state and international levels will be a tremendous asset to our clients across numerous industries,” Talley said.

Memphis-based Baker Donelson already boasts a 30-member data protection and cybersecurity practice with clients in numerous industries spanning from financial services to health care.

Prior to joining Baker Donelson, Leiva worked in a variety of capacities within the security realm, including as counsel on privacy compliance and cybersecurity for numerous companies and in collaboration with the FBI on infrastructure protection.

“There’s an increasing focus on cybersecurity fluency by counsel, Leiva said. “This used to be seen as an IT issue but not anymore.”

Leiva noted that 85 percent of the infrastructure critical to the United States economy and its security is privately held. To him, that ubiquity means cybersecurity and data privacy will only continue to become more important to the legal profession.

With the news of high-profile data breaches hitting companies like Equifax and Facebook, industries have faced increased regulatory scrutiny regarding how customer data is handled. In 2016, the European Union passed the General Data Protection Regulation, the first law to regulate how companies can use client data. Earlier this summer, California passed the first data privacy law in the U.S.: The California Consumer Privacy Act.

Leiva thinks other states will soon follow. “A big part of my job is keeping my clients abreast of any new laws,” he said.

Baker Donelson has approximately 30 lawyers in Florida spread over three offices —in Orlando, Tallahassee and Fort Lauderdale. The firm first expanded to Florida in 2011.