Partner and Co-Chair, Cybersecurity and Privacy Practice, WilmerHale
Benjamin Powell is widely recognized as one of the country's top authorities on handling cybersecurity, data breach and related investigation matters. He has advised companies on major cybersecurity incidents and incident preparedness across virtually every sector of the economy, including the banking, investment management, software, retail, energy, defense and intelligence, media and entertainment, pharmaceutical, cloud services, government contracting, aerospace, information technology, manufacturing, and travel sectors. He is recognized as a leading attorney in handling complex regulatory matters relating to international investment and mergers, including matters involving the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS) and the Defense Security Service (DSS). He also is regularly asked to be lead counsel on major investigations and strategic counseling across a variety of sensitive regulatory matters for the world's most prominent companies.
He is the author of the Global and US chapters in a cybersecurity guide for companies in jurisdictions worldwide, and contributing global editor of the guide. He was recently selected as one of the 500 Leading Lawyers in America by Lawdragon. He is also frequently retained to perform due diligence on major corporate transactions requiring expertise in government regulatory issues, including government contracting, data security and privacy, security clearance issues with the Defense Security Service (DSS), and related issues. He is regularly named as one of Washington's Top Lawyers in surveys of best attorneys in DC. The Wall Street Journal calls him one of Washington's “big legal guns” and The Legal 500 calls him an “exceptional lawyer” who “provides clear guidance on complex technological issues.” He is recognized as a CFIUS expert in the 2013-2017 editions of Chambers USA: America's Leading Lawyers in Business.
Mr. Powell has performed due diligence on some of the largest recent corporate transactions and successfully guided companies through some of the most complex CFIUS filings for companies in a range of industries. He has also served as lead counsel on matters for companies facing difficult regulatory, congressional, and public policy issues across a range of industry sectors and subjects. Mr. Powell regularly handles matters involving the Defense Security Service, including the structuring of Special Security Agreements and Proxy Agreements, related to corporate security clearances and classified government contracting. He has represented clients in civil and criminal litigation involving privacy and surveillance issues at the state and federal level.
Mr. Powell was unanimously confirmed by the United States Senate as General Counsel to the Director of National Intelligence. His background includes serving as General Counsel to the first three Directors of National Intelligence, Special Assistant to the President and associate White House Counsel, Air Force officer, work at the Federal Bureau of Investigation, corporate counsel at a software company in Silicon Valley, and part of the trial team that obtained the largest antitrust jury verdict in US history. He joined the firm in 2009.
As General Counsel to the first three Directors of National Intelligence, Mr. Powell's work involved designing and implementing legal compliance and oversight mechanisms, litigation, international law, foreign investment, crisis management, congressional inquiries and investigations, privacy, legislation, cybersecurity and foreign affairs. He worked closely with Congress to modernize the laws governing electronic surveillance activities and private sector involvement with the government in national security matters. This effort resulted in passage of a landmark comprehensive bipartisan bill in 2008.
As an Associate Counsel and Special Assistant to the President, Mr. Powell's responsibilities included numerous litigation and investigatory matters, and policy and legal work with the Department of Homeland Security, Department of State, Department of Justice and Department of Commerce.
Immediately prior to his service at the White House, Mr. Powell was Corporate Counsel for Vitria Technology, an enterprise integration software company, where he handled a wide range of issues, including intellectual property, securities reporting, revenue recognition and international licensing and professional services transactions across Europe.
As a litigator, Mr. Powell was part of the trial team that won the largest antitrust verdict in history of $1.05 billion. He also handled massive discovery and pre-trial proceedings as part of the case, which concerned unlawful monopolization activities across the country in the wholesale and retail consumer products market.
Mr. Powell is a member of the Fellows of the American Bar Foundation. He has served in numerous roles on the ABA Standing Committee on Law and National Security. He is also a Board Member of Columbia Law School Center on Constitutional Governance, and Board Member of Georgetown University Cybersecurity Law Institute. He served on the Bipartisan Policy Center's Cybersecurity Task Force on Improving Cybersecurity Information Sharing in 2012.
Mr. Powell served in the United States Air Force from 1989 to 1993 and worked for the Federal Bureau of Investigation in 1988 and 1989. He is a graduate of Columbia Law School.