Michael Sussmann

Partner, Fenwick & West

Michael has been an internationally recognized privacy, cybersecurity and national security attorney for over twenty-five years. Beginning in 1997 as a cybercrime prosecutor at the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ), Michael was one of the earliest leaders in this field.

After eight years of investigating and prosecuting computer intrusions and other internet-related crimes for the DOJ, Michael spent sixteen years building the privacy & data security practice at Perkins Coie LLP, serving as a trusted advisor to industry leaders and their Boards of Directors. During this time, clients relied on Michael for counsel on a range of sophisticated and high-stakes matters, including unprecedented state-sponsored network intrusions and data breaches, sensitive government investigations, and other bet-the-company representations.

One of Michael's more notable cases was his representation of the Democratic National Committee in its response to Russian hacking in the 2016 presidential election. This high-profile work went on to be detailed in the bestselling books The Apprentice (2018), The Perfect Weapon (2018), Russian Roulette (2018), and Hacks (2017). Investigative reporters have written about additional notable work Michael has done in two other important books: Power Wars(2015) and Dragnet Nation (2015).

With each new advance in communications and data sharing, clients trust Michael to help them navigate laws related to data collection and data access by governments; use and sharing by private entities such as communications providers, cloud platforms, and social media; and the legal risks and protections presented in an evolving and intensifying landscape.

Michael is trusted for extensive corporate privacy and cybersecurity reviews and for representing Fortune 100 companies before the DOJ, FTC, FCC, state attorneys general and Congressional committees. He has litigated prominent national security cases in federal court, and he counsels clients regarding classified government programs, foreign-based investments in or threats to U.S. infrastructure, and the handling of classified information.

Michael has provided Congressional testimony in public and nonpublic hearings on a number of pressing issues, and is frequently quoted in The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal and other national media. Ranked as a leading privacy and data security lawyer in Chambers Global and Chambers USA, and listed among the Cybersecurity Docket’s Incident Response 40, he is regarded among “the best data breach response lawyers in the business.”

Prior to entering private practice, Michael spent twelve years in several positions within the DOJ. He joined the Department in 1993 as Special Assistant to the Assistant Attorney General for DOJ’s Criminal Division; he prosecuted white-collar and violent crimes at the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Virginia; and his government service concluded with his eight years in DOJ’s Computer Crime & Intellectual Property Section. Michael was a contributing author to DOJ’s manuals on Prosecuting Computer Crimes, Searching and Seizing Computers and Obtaining Electronic Evidence in Criminal Investigations, and Prosecuting Intellectual Property Crimes.

Michael began his career in New York as an associate in the litigation department of Proskauer Rose LLP.