Bess Hinson, Nelson Mullins, Atlanta (John Disney/ALM) Bess Hinson, Atlanta (John Disney/ALM)

Bess Hinson has left Nelson Mullins Riley & Scarborough to lead the cybersecurity team at Morris Manning & Martin.

Hinson said that, when Morris Manning offered her chance to chair its cybersecurity and privacy practice, she was ready. “It’s what I’ve aspired to do my entire career,” she said.

Hinson, 34, advises companies in breach response, implementing data security programs and regulatory compliance—including for Europe’s General Data Protection Regulation, which takes effect May 25. Morris Manning partner Larry Kunin heads the firm’s data breach litigation team.

Morris Manning is “incredibly entrepreneurial” with a nationally known tech practice, Hinson said, which complements her work. “You can’t advise a client with cyber issues without a robust expansion of their technology,” she explained.

Hinson has an entrepreneurial streak herself. Last year, she started the Atlanta Women in Cybersecurity Roundtable, an invitation-only group for women in charge of cybersecurity operations at their companies.

The first meeting last September attracted 25 executives from Atlanta companies, including SunTrust, UPS, Cox Enterprises, WorldPay, Global Payments, Gwinnett Medical Center, Porsche Cars North America, Graphic Packaging and CareerBuilder.

The group has grown to 45 members from 32 companies, Hinson said. The women cyber-executives confidentially discuss top-of-mind issues at a quarterly roundtable. The most recent topic, Hinson said, was how to handle regulatory investigations after a data breach—which can include educating CEOs on how to testify before Congress.

Hinson, who joined Morris Manning on Monday as a senior associate, declined to name clients without permission. Most are Atlanta-based, with a few in Silicon Valley, she said, in industries including logistics providers, software, financial services, construction and manufacturing.

John Yates, who heads Morris Manning’s tech practice, praised Hinson’s expertise in a statement, noting that privacy and cybersecurity regulations and threats have become increasingly complex.

“Bess has skillfully focused her practice on these important issues,” Yates said.

Hinson started working in data security law at King & Spalding, which she joined in 2013 after a federal clerkship. She worked on breach cases and class action defense with Phyllis Sumner, who heads King & Spalding’s data security and privacy practice. (Sumner is leading King & Spalding’s representation of Equifax in its data breach.)

At Nelson Mullins, which she joined in 2015, she was able to develop a practice that is entirely cybersecurity compliance and data breach counseling.

“I view my role as assisting companies in complying with the law and protecting themselves so they are not subject to these intrusions,” Hinson said, adding that security issues have evolved from retail credit card breaches to foreign threat actors seeking corporate secrets and financial information.

There are a lot of lawyers in Atlanta who specialize in data breach counseling, Hinson said, but they often are with law firms that aren’t based here. “They don’t have as large a presence here as Morris Manning does. I think it’s incredibly valuable for our Atlanta-based companies to have Atlanta lawyers on site who can be there, day in and day out, to respond to client needs,” she said.

She added that middle market companies, as well as the Fortune 50, need cybersecurity legal services. “Everyone needs those services in today’s world,” she said.

Morris Manning has also beefed up its employment law team, after the departure of a five-lawyer team, including three partners, for Baker & Hostetler last month. Partner Ed Emerson is chairing the employment and benefits practice, which has recruited four new attorneys.

Meredith Caiafa, of counsel, returned to Morris Manning from Carlton Fields. Abby Larimer, an associate, joined from Martenson, Hasbrouck & Simon. Ellenor Stone, of counsel, and Ryan Gorman, an associate, joined from King & Spalding. Gorman specializes in employee benefits, while the other three new recruits handle a broad range of employment matters.

BRIEFLY

Veteran white-collar defense lawyer W. Carl Lietz III has joined the trial practice at Finch McCranie as a partner from Kish & Lietz, where he was law partners with another well-known criminal defense lawyer, Paul Kish. After defending federal criminal white-collar cases almost exclusively for more than 20 years, Lietz is expanding his practice to civil tort cases, including personal injury and wrongful death. Lietz is a fellow of the American Board of Criminal Lawyers.


James Paine Jr. has joined Holland & Knight as a partner from Kilpatrick Townsend & Stockton to head the outsourcing and tech transactions practice. Two associates came with Paine from Kilpatrick, Ross Berger and Lacey Elmore. “We expect the team’s services will be in high demand from our private-equity fund clients and their portfolio companies,” said James McDermott, who heads Holland & Knight’s business section, in a statement.


Taylor English & Duma is expanding its intellectual property practice to the West Coast with the addition of Siegfried J.W. Ruppert in San Francisco as a partner. Ruppert was previously special counsel at Duane Morris. He handles patent prosecution, opinions and litigation and holds a Ph.D. in biological sciences from the Ruprecht-Karls University of Heidelberg in Germany. Ruppert worked at Genentech before becoming an IP lawyer.


IP lawyer Sabina Vayner has joined Greenberg Traurig as of counsel from Kilpatrick. Vayner represents brand owners in trademark, copyright and advertising litigation, enforcement and counseling. She has been recognized as a top trademark practitioner by World Trademark Review.


Lee Wallace has become a neutral at BAY Mediation. Wallace is the proprietor of the Wallace Law Firm, where she handles whistleblower and personal injury cases as well as business disputes.


George Neuhauser, who has been a defense lawyer at Nall & Miller since 1978, has joined Henning Mediation & Arbitration Service as a neutral.


McCalla Raymer Leibert Pierce has promoted William Tate, a commercial litigation partner, to managing partner of its Georgia litigation and trial practice group. It has also added Kerry McInerney from Sirote & Permutt to serve as managing partner of the litigation practice in Alabama and Mississippi.


Taylor English has elected two new partners, Alison Ballard and Stephanie Ford Capezzuto. Ballard is a litigator, whose practice includes employment disputes. She co-founded the Student Tribunal Project for Georgia Appleseed, which trains attorneys to represent foster children pro bono in school disciplinary hearings.

Capezzuto is also a litigator, handling personal injury cases and other disputes. She also advises restaurants, hotels and stores in alcohol licensing matters. She is on the steering committee for ServiceJuris and has volunteered for the Atlanta Volunteer Lawyers Program.


Baker, Donelson, Bearman, Caldwell & Berkowitz has elected Katy Furr as one of its 11 new shareholders. Furr is a bankruptcy lawyer and co-chairs the firm’s parental leave committee.