Ex-Manhattan DA Vance Joins Baker McKenzie as Cybercrime Chief

Cyrus Vance Jr., the former Manhattan District Attorney who prosecuted Harvey Weinstein and investigated former President Donald Trump, has joined global law firm Baker McKenzie where he’ll advise clients on cybersecurity issues.

Vance left the Manhattan prosecutor’s office in December after 12 years, deciding against running for a fourth term. His departure came amid a still pending decision whether to file criminal charges against Trump in a long-running investigation that unearthed the former president’s tax returns.

Vance will lead the Baker McKenzie’s global cybersecurity practice, a team of some 150 lawyers that helps companies prevent and respond to cybercrime. He made the issue a priority during his time as a prosecutor, co-founding the Global Cyber Alliance, an international non-profit organization that shared information on cyber-attacks between governments and companies from New York to London.

“This is a huge challenge because technology has rushed upon us and it is now so prevalent without us as a country necessarily being able to manage the risks at the same speed,” Vance said in an interview.

Baker McKenzie is one of the world’s largest law firms, bringing in $3.1 billion in revenue during its latest fiscal year, which ended in June, up nearly 8% from the previous year. The firm’s partners earned on average more than $1.3 million in 2020, the latest year such information was available from The American Lawyer. Baker McKenzie said its partners’ profits were up more than 40% in 2021, though it didn’t provide a specific figure.

The firm is known for cross-border transactions, international tax advice and litigation, among other work. Its clients have included banks BNP Paribas and Deutsche Bank and pharmaceutical companies Bayer AG and Johnson & Johnson.

Vance declined to comment on the future of the Trump investigation or a reported surge in shootings in New York. His successor, Democrat Alvin Bragg, won office campaigning on less-strict enforcement of certain gun possession charges.

Bragg named the city’s first special prosecutor for gun violence earlier this week. He also said a memo he sent out this month indicating he would stop seeking jail time for all but the most serious gun offenses was misunderstood after it drew backlash from some police officers.

“Mr. Bragg really doesn’t need my views,” Vance said. “I think he’s an experienced federal prosecutor and state prosecutor. He’s charting his own course and I, like all New Yorkers, should wish him well.”

Cyber Growth

Cybersecurity practices have become a major growth driver for law firms, helping clients manage data security policies that are increasingly subject to government regulatory requirements such as the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation or the California Consumer Privacy Act. Firms also investigate data breaches and help companies file obligatory notifications of the events.

Vance as a prosecutor launched New York City’s Cyber Critical Infrastructure Task Force, a public-private group aimed at preventing cyberattacks to infrastructure like the subway system. He said other cities like Paris have since looked to replicate the program.

“The issues around cyber are much bigger than any one particular company,” Vance said. “What we’re facing is increased and evolving threats to public entities and private businesses as attack automation has been introduced globally.”

Ex-Manhattan DA Vance Joins Baker McKenzie as Cybercrime Chief

Credit: Baker McKenzie handout

Vance said he spent the past month between Manhattan, Upstate New York with family—including five-month-old twin grandchildren—and a week vacation to warmer climates with his wife. He said he spoke with other law firms about potential jobs but declined to identify those firms.

The Baker McKenzie post will mark Vance’s first time in private practice since becoming Manhattan DA in 2009. He previously practiced in Seattle at a firm he co-founded, now known as McNaul Ebel Nawrot & Helgren. Vance was also a partner in New York at Morvillo Abramowitz.

Baker McKenzie’s global reach, with 76 offices around the world, was a significant factor in his decision, he said.

“I was looking for a place where I could collaborate, innovate and be creative,” he said. “Given the breadth of Baker’s reach and the talent of its people, this was just the right place for me.”