CHICAGO – Cozen O’Connor today welcomed Melissa A. Siebert and Erin Bolan Hines — data privacy litigators with renowned track records of successfully defending employers and technology enterprises entangled in major data privacy class actions and appellate cases — to its award-winning Commercial Litigation Practice Group. Both come to the firm from Shook Hardy & Bacon and join Cozen O’Connor as shareholders. Each will work out of the firm’s Chicago office.
Siebert, who has overseen more than 150 class actions centered on biometric data privacy and other cutting-edge privacy laws, will chair Cozen O’Connor’s Emerging Data Privacy Trends practice and concentrate on complex, privacy-related class action disputes, significant privacy-related appeals, and compliance. Hines, who joins as vice chair of the practice, will concentrate on biometric privacy, as well as class actions and complex litigation involving business and privacy and data security issues.
“Melissa and Erin are nationally recognized leaders in data privacy litigation. The hiring of these powerhouse attorneys reflects a comprehensive strategic plan we’ve put in place to find the best lawyers across the country and build out our complex litigation and privacy capabilities,” said Michael J. Heller, Cozen O’Connor’s Executive Chairman and Chief Executive Officer. “Over time, we have thoughtfully assembled a cross-practice team that helps companies navigate all aspects of privacy issues, ranging from advocacy before legislatures to compliance and risk mitigation to government investigations and enforcement actions and litigation. I am thrilled to have them join us.”
“It’s been said that in the near future three-quarters of the world’s population will have its personal data covered by a range of privacy regulations,” said Andrew Baer, founder and chair of the firm’s Technology, Privacy & Data Security practice. “As privacy regulations continue to grow in scope and complexity, so too will the challenges for our clients. Melissa and Erin are tremendous additions and I’m certain our business clients will see it that way too.”
Siebert previously led Shook Hardy’s Biometric Privacy Practice, where she and her team defended companies in more than 150 class actions involving the Illinois Biometric Information Privacy Act (BIPA), the Video Privacy Protection Act, rights of publicity statutes in California and Illinois, ransomware-related class actions, and claims related to commonly-used website tracking tools. The team will continue to represent their existing and new clients in all of these areas, using Cozen O’Connor’s expanded platform to better meet clients’ needs.
“With commercial class action litigation increasingly centering on individual privacy issues, Melissa and Erin have both the credentials and experience to defend our business clients in privacy-based class action lawsuits and government enforcement proceedings,” said James H. Heller, co-chair of the firm’s Commercial Litigation Practice Group. “As a firm that helps its clients see around the corner and anticipate the next wave of privacy litigation, they are ideally suited to spearhead what I see as a critically important initiative. I’m delighted to welcome them to Cozen O’Connor.”
“With many states having introduced some degree of data privacy legislation and others in the process of doing so, I’m thrilled to lead a practice that monitors the intersection of individual privacy, litigation, and enforcement,” said Siebert. “Cozen O’Connor’s deep understanding of the nuances of federal and state privacy laws and extensive experience defending these actions across the country have made us the “go to” firm for leading companies in privacy actions, and I’m thrilled to be a part of that.”
Hines’ privacy and data security practice includes helping clients address the complicated and rapidly changing technical and legal landscapes governing the collection, use, storage, and disposal of sensitive corporate and consumer information. She spent the past four years focused on class action defense and compliance under the Illinois Biometric Information Privacy Act (BIPA), representing both employers and technology providers. By focusing on the long-term goals of her clients, she brings a practical approach to working with both private and public entities.
“As public awareness over privacy continues to increase, individuals will demand more control over their data. As such, governing bodies will not only increase but continue to clamp down on commercial data protection issues,” Hines said. “Working closely with clients and helping them meet their business obligations under ever-changing privacy laws — and defending them when it’s necessary — is something I’m passionate about. I’m happy to be part of Cozen O’Connor and what I see as a cutting-edge data privacy practice.”
Siebert earned her J.D. at Northwestern University School of Law, her M.B.A at Northwestern University Kellogg School of Management, and a B.A. at Bucknell University. Hines earned her J.D. at Loyola University School of Law, and a B.A. at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
About Cozen O’Connor
Established in 1970, Cozen O’Connor has over 825 attorneys who help clients manage risk and make better business decisions. The firm counsels clients on their most sophisticated legal matters in all areas of the law, including litigation, corporate, and regulatory law. Representing a broad array of leading global corporations and middle-market companies, Cozen O’Connor serves its clients’ needs through 31 offices across two continents.