Tori Silas has left Cox Enterprises, where she was senior counsel and the company’s first privacy officer, to join Nelson Mullins Riley & Scarborough as a partner.
Silas, who started at Nelson Mullins on Monday, is the first member of its Atlanta office to focus on tech transactions and procurement. The national group is led by Jason Epstein in Nashville and P. Mason Hogue Jr. in the firm’s Columbia, South Carolina, headquarters.
“Since Tori is transitioning from in-house to private practice, she’s available to assist with privacy and data security matters, but the goal is for her to build a practice around tech transactions and procurement,” said Nelson Mullins’ Atlanta managing partner, Michael Hollingsworth, who recruited her to the firm.
That means negotiating long-term operational contracts for companies on anything from an outsourcing deal to tech licensing, Hollingsworth said.
“Tori is very dynamic. We were impressed by her energy,” he said. “I think she will be able to build her own practice at Nelson Mullins with her existing network.”
After a decade in-house, Silas said she’d thought she’d spend the rest of her career in that role, but participating in Cox’s FORGE Leadership Program, where she rotated through the company’s operating divisions, got her thinking about what she wanted her practice to be.
Silas first went in-house with Harland Clarke Corp. in 2008, then moved to Cox four years later. The company made her its first privacy officer in 2015. After two years in that role, she became one of the first three lawyers chosen for its FORGE program, which general counsel Juliette Pryor started for Cox’s legal department.
The program gave SIlas the chance to rotate through Cox’s operating divisions—Cox Communications, Cox Media and Cox Automotive—and to work on a variety of M&A and tech transactions. “It was more hands-on, working with the business stakeholders,” she said.
Silas, who’d started out working for Paul Hastings and then Sutherland Asbill & Brennan (now Eversheds Sutherland), decided that private practice provided an opportunity for a broader-based practice focused on clients’ procurement of tech assets.
Clients for tech transactions range from startups to large institutional clients, she said. “To an extent, every company is a tech company, whether they want to be or not, because they must leverage technology to do whatever it is they do.”
“It’s an area where Nelson Mullins is growing and investing,” Silas said, adding that it’s an opportunity to have her own clients.
It also takes Silas back to her technology roots. After graduating from Georgia Tech with a degree in management, she worked as a tech consultant for PricewaterhouseCoopers before going to law school at the University of Miami.
“Atlanta is becoming a tech hub, attracting a lot of startups,” she added. “It makes sense to focus on that.”
Outside of her practice, Silas was president of the Georgia Association of Black Women Attorneys in 2017 and is on the board for Georgia Appleseed Center for Law and Justice.