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Alumni Profiles

Learn more about our most accomplished alumni. They are a distinguished group of leading public officials & judges, law firm partners, public interest advocates, and business leaders. In each of our BLSLawNotes magazine issues, we profile a few of our best and most loyal assets - our graduates.

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  • FriedbergOn June 30, 2010, Paul Ceglia sued Facebook co-founder Mark Zuckerberg, claiming that Zuckerberg had signed a 2003 contract giving him half-ownership of the company (now valued at $75 to $100 billion, according to the Wall Street Journal). Zuckerberg maintains that Ceglia made up the whole story and forged documents to support his claims. “The contract is a cut-and-paste job, the e-mails are complete fabrications, and this entire lawsuit is a fraud,” reads a statement filed by Zuckerberg’s lawyers with a U.S. District Court in Buffalo, New York. To prove it, Zuckerberg
    hired digital forensics expert Eric Friedberg ’83, who has battled all manner of cybercriminals, from rogue hackers to e-forgers to sophisticated intellectual property thieves. For most people, a call from Mark Zuckerberg would be out of the ordinary, but this is the sort of call Friedberg gets every day.

    LawNotes Managing Editor Andrea Strong ’94 met with Friedberg at Stroz Friedberg’s 50,000-square-foot Tribeca office, a stunning steel-on-white space equipped with one of the largest digital forensics lab in the country. Over the course of the morning, Friedberg discussed a career that took him from Skadden Arps, to the U.S. Attorney’s Office, to leading one of the nation’s top digital risk and cybercrime firms. He discussed what it takes to deal with cybercriminals, the perils of using your smartphone in Asia, what risks you’re taking by Tweeting your life away, and the threats that loom in the future.

    Tell me a little bit about your background. Were you primed from an early age to be a lawyer?

    Even though my father Irving Friedberg is a lawyer, BLS Class of 1948, I didn’t come to the law right away. I studied philosophy and poetry at Brandeis. I was accepted to the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference and tried to establish myself as a poet, but it turned out to be an isolating and difficult existence. So I took the LSAT, and I had a terrific three years at BLS. The caliber of the teaching was so high and thought provoking. Its world-class talent provided me with a very stimulating education.

    You began your legal career at a big firm. What was that like for you?

    Skadden gave me the foundation for a successful business career. The level of rigorousness, the responsiveness towards clients, and the perfectionism that the firm demands stays with you your entire life. It sets you apart from many other professionals.

    What led you to leave Skadden and join the U.S. Attorney’s Office?

    When I joined the U.S. Attorney’s Office, Rudy Giuliani was prosecuting a number of high-profile cases—the insider trading scandals, the organized crime trials—and I really wanted to devote a good period of my life to the public good. The U.S. Attorney’s Office gave me the opportunity to do that. I spent the early part of my career focusing on South American narco-terrorism. That work culminated in me leading a 50-person task force investigating and prosecuting six accomplices in the Cali Cartel-ordered assassination of Manual De Dios Unanue, the former editor-inchief of El Diario. It’s a case that made front page news for years.

    How did you transition from Chief of Narcotics to running a cybercrime team?

    One day, a few DEA Agents walked into my office and told me that they were working on an investigation involving someone who was selling illegal wiretapping equipment for cell phones over the Internet. We were concerned about our undercover agents being killed if they were found out, so we had a joint DEASecret Service investigation. As part of this investigation, I did one of the first e-mail wiretaps in the country by the non-intelligence side of the government. After that, I handled all the Secret Service’s computer crime matters, and in 1996, I was a founding member of the Electronic Crimes Task Force that now plays a big role in fighting cybercrime. It was through that group that I met Ed [Stroz] because he had founded and was running the FBI’s first computer crime squad in New York.

    How did Stroz Friedberg go from dream to reality?

    In 2000, Ed was working on his own and founded the firm in a small office on Maiden Lane. I joined him in 2001. We were committed to the idea that digital fact-finding and digital evidence was going to become important. We pioneered many of the methodologies in the field of digital evidence, and in doing so, we have replicated the best of what we had in the government, which is a prosecutor/agent model. Our firm is staffed with former prosecutors with legal expertise who understand the legal context into which the legal fact-finding will fit and with former
    agents who are phenomenal at digital fact-finding. This is an incredibly powerful combination.

    What are the main reasons clients come to you?

    We operate in a field that we call “digital risk management and investigations.” Clients come to us in areas such as digital forensics, data breach and cybercrime response, security consulting, business intelligence and investigations, and electronic discovery. Recently, for example, Google mistakenly included code in software in its Street View cars that collected fragments of private user data from WiFi networks. Google hired us to review the
    software at issue, how it worked, and what data it had actually gathered. We led a digital forensics team that analyzed the proprietary source code and approved a protocol to ensure that any WiFi-related software is removed from the cars before they start driving again.

    What about battling hackers?

    Many of our clients seek help when they experience an intrusion. It could be an industrial or state-sponsored espionage case, where a competitor or a foreign government is trying to steal trade secrets or intellectual property. Or it could involve an organized crime group targeting credit card information, or, more recently, “hacktivist groups” such as Anonymous who are not trying to steal money as much as they are trying to penalize companies that run afoul of their credos.

    Can you protect these companies from these intrusions?

    The current thinking in security is that if your attacker is sophisticated and persistent enough, which is usually the case, it’s unlikely that the attack can be prevented. It becomes more a question of how you respond. We help companies make sure that their detection and response capabilities are enhanced. Our job is to help figure out what happened, how it happened, how to get these intruders out of the network, and how to be better prepared next time—because they will definitely come back.

    As we become more socially networked, with much of our personal information out in the open, how does that manifest itself in the cybercrime war?

    You’ve hit on a major issue. The bad guys are using social networking to “spear-phish,” or send a baited e-mail that they know you will open because it is made to look like it comes from a friend. Often the attacker conducts reconnaissance on your business and personal relationships, for example, by using LinkedIn, Facebook, and business websites, so that the spear-phishing e-mail can also contain references to content that you might expect to receive via e-mail. Once you click on that link, it opens up malware that gives them control of your computer and access
    to all your data. These sites have provided a wealth of new opportunities for bad guys to deliver malware to targets. In addition, these social networking platforms are running on devices that are far less secure than office laptops and desktops. Tablets and mobile phones are way behind in terms of security, and attack programs are being written to target these devices. Employees, especially top executives, who are running around with BlackBerrys, iPads and iPhones are vulnerable to these security attacks. The trend to allow employees to connect any device of their choosing to the network is called “BYOD,” or Bring Your Own Device. You also have to be particularly vigilant if you are travelling abroad. Companies need to train their employees to avoid conduct, like leaving laptops in hotel rooms, that enables foreign agents to copy or bug computing devices.

    Your offices and staff have grown exponentially in the past 10 years.

    Our clients have complex and global needs. The Google WiFi scandal ended up being a 30-country privacy scandal. A statesponsored espionage case can require 10 to 20 people, and if you have four, five, or six of these going on at the same time you need the staff to handle this. We are planning on hiring 100 new employees this year alone.

    With such growth and demand, what advice do you have for students who may want to work in the area of digital forensic and cybercrime in the future?

    What lawyers add to the matters that we handle is a deep understanding of how litigation and investigations work and how digital fact-finding fits into that. This requires developing that expertise through litigating, trying cases, or being a prosecutor. You can focus in civil law on computer trespass, privacy, and those areas of the law. A lot of our lawyers are also coming from intellectual property or privacy practices at law firms. You need to be
    working in a relevant sector, know how to run an investigation, and be the quarterback for the technical talent. Once you have that, give us a call.

  • Faisal Khan '01For decades, the Chicago City Council has resisted efforts to increase oversight of its controversial Aldermen. That all changed last year, when the Council agreed to appoint an internal watchdog. The man it chose as Chicago’s first Legislative Inspector General was Faisal Khan, Class of 2001. “I commend the City Council for taking this important step to institute oversight and reform,” said Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel in response to Khan’s selection.

    Khan has long been interested in criminal justice. After graduating from Rutgers College in 1997 with a B.S. in Administration of Justice and a B.A. in Sociology and Criminology, he spent four years as a Senior Investigator for the Civilian Complaint Review Board (CCRB), where he was charged with investigating allegations of police misconduct for the City of New York, including wrongful death actions.

    Working at the CCRB during the day, Khan became a student in the Law School’s evening division. With an eye toward continuing a career in criminal justice, he enrolled in the Prosecutor’s Clinic and found a mentor who helped shape his future. “Professor Lisa Smith was an excellent teacher,” said Khan. “She was the person who guided me through my career choices.”
    After graduation, Khan became an Assistant District Attorney in the Queens County District Attorney’s Office, beginning in the Intake Bureau, and rising to the Narcotics Trials Bureau, and then moving to the Career Criminal Major Crime Bureau. “It was a fantastic job, and I received outstanding investigative and trial experience working there,” he said. “I loved being in a position to directly help people and hopefully to prevent crime from happening.”

    After almost a decade as an ADA, Khan became an Inspector General for the New York City Department of Investigations. He was responsible for policing eight city agencies, including the Department of Finance, the Office of Payroll Administration, the Tax Commission, and the City Civil Service Commission, among others. It was a job with enormous scope, investigating major theft and corruption by employees and contractors of NYC, vendor contract fraud, criminal activity, and unethical and corrupt practices by City agency officials. It was also a rewarding position that gave him the opportunity to mentor many future police officers and law enforcement agents. “I had the chance to teach the art of investigations,” said Khan “My goal was not only to make sure there was fairness on all sides, but also teach others that the target is not a guilty verdict. The target is the truth. Fairness and integrity come above everything else.”

    After two years with the Department of Investigations, Khan relocated to Chicago, where his original plan was to open a small private practice. But when the Legislative Inspector General position was created, he felt compelled to toss his hat in the ring. “Once you have the public service bug, it bites you, and you can’t walk away. I saw this opportunity, and I thought it was the perfect fit,” he said. Khan was one of more than 170 applicants. A panel interviewed about 30 candidates before he was chosen for the job.

    As the first ever Legislative Inspector General in Chicago, Khan is now the official watchdog of the City of Chicago Aldermen and employees of the Chicago City Council, who have been prone to getting in trouble with federal law enforcement officials. “Over the last 30 years, more than 30 different aldermen have been convicted of federal crimes, yet there has never been any real oversight,” he said. “There is a lot of mistrust in Chicago, so one of my responsibilities is to change that perception.”

    As part of his efforts to do so, Khan is in the process of creating an office from scratch, developing its policies and procedures, setting up a website and citizen hotline, and eventually hiring investigators, lawyers, and support staff. “The beauty of this position is that we are molding and creating a new agency that acts as a watchdog and as an investigator,” he said. “We are creating a place for members of the public to come forward and have a place to be heard.”

  • Charlie Platt '79Charlie Platt ’79, a leading commercial litigator who is recognized nationally for his defense work in class action matters for financial services and insurance companies, was recently made partner-in-charge of the New York office of WilmerHale. A member of the firm since 2003, Platt is also a partner in the firm’s Litigation/Controversy and Securities Departments, a co-chair of the Business Trial Group, and a member of the firm’s Management Committee.

    Platt grew up in Huntington, Long Island, and is the son of Byrd (Symington) Platt, a commercial illustrator and artist, and Thomas Platt, Jr., United States District Court Judge for the Eastern District of New York, who has been on the bench for nearly 40 years. Given his father’s profession, Platt was strongly predisposed to a career in the law. Yet he wasn’t firmly convinced of this choice. To appropriately consider what he might make of his future, after graduating from the University of Virginia in 1975, he moved to Park City, Utah, where he skied at Snowbird from dawn to dusk. “At the time, I was conflicted about whether I wanted to be a lawyer or not, so I did the obvious thing. I became a ski bum,” he said wryly. After a year on the slopes, however, he thought better of his decision. “I looked around and noticed that for the guys in their 20’s it was a lot of fun, but as they got into their 40’s, things were not as rosy.” Perhaps, he thought, law was the right move after all.

    He enrolled in Brooklyn Law School in 1976, but on his first day, got cold feet. “I remember carting these huge books home from the bookstore, leafing through them and thinking, ‘What have I done?’ It was all very intimidating to me.” Soon, though, Platt found he was in his element. “I was very fortunate to come under the wing of some wonderful teachers,” said Platt. “Richard Farrell, who taught me civil procedure, was terrific. Stacy Caplow mentored me about the world of lawyering. They were a fountain of wisdom, and were very supportive and helpful to me at the time.”

    Platt’s first job out of BLS was as a law clerk for Judge Charles Brieant of the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York. He then joined LeBoeuf Lamb as an associate in 1980, splitting his time between its corporate and litigation departments. After three years with the firm, he moved to its litigation group full time. In 1992, Platt took a leave from the firm when he was appointed as Special Assistant United States Attorney for the Blanca Nazionale Del Lavoro (“Iraqgate”) investigation by the U.S. Department of Justice, in which it was revealed that an Atlanta, Georgia branch of the bank was making unauthorized loans to Iraq to buy weapons. Implicated in the scandal with the bank were White House and Justice Department officials.

    Platt returned to LeBoeuf after completing the investigation, and then joined WilmerHale in 2003. Since joining the firm, he has helped grow the office from a tight-knit group of 20 to its current size of approximately 180 lawyers. Over the years, his work has earned him many accolades, including inclusion in the 2006 though 2011 editions of Chambers USA: America’s Leading Lawyers for Business, and selection by his peers for inclusion in the 2006 through 2012 editions of The Best Lawyers in America. He was also named a 2011 “New York Super Lawyer” for his work as a leading commercial litigator.

    While he continues to litigate and mentor young lawyers in his firm, Platt’s energies have been occupied recently by his new role as the firm’s New York Partner-in-Charge and his continuing role as a member of the firm’s Management Committee. “In the past, I was much more engaged in the practice of law, more preoccupied with winning cases in court,” he said. “Now I’m apt to also be thinking about how best to run a legal practice or how best to develop our younger lawyers. It’s a big change, but I am honored to have the opportunity to be a part of the future growth of the firm.”

    And when he’s not concentrating on developing the office or winning his cases, he still loves the snow in Utah. Though he now hits the slopes with his wife, daughter, and son, it’s one place where his inner ski bum lives on.

  • Mark Yosowitz '94Two roads diverged in a wood, and Mark Yosowitz ’94 took both. And then some. He has been an English teacher, a big firm lawyer, a Hollywood screenwriter, and a corporate executive. These days, he finds himself something of a start-up guru as Senior VP of a company that hopes to change the way we use electricity through a clever new device called the Modlet.

    Yosowitz began to realize his life was not destined for a traditional path shortly after he graduated cum laude from the University of Pennsylvania in 1990. He was at an interview for a management-track job when he had a “light bulb moment.”

    “It just hit me. It’s not my time to work in a large corporate environment,” he recalled. He promptly thanked the interviewer for his time and left.

    Within a month, he had moved to Madrid with nothing more than a suitcase. Yosowitz found work teaching English as a second language and as a freelance writer. After a year in Spain, Yosowitz decided he was ready for the real world. Following in his father’s footsteps, he applied to law school.

    At Brooklyn Law School, Yosowitz excelled, earning spots on the Moot Court Honor Society and the Brooklyn Journal of International Law. He graduated cum laude and, in 1994, joined Shearman & Sterling’s International Corporate Finance Group. There, he traveled extensively throughout South America, putting his Spanish to good use while working on corporate finance, mergers and acquisitions, and international project finance matters.

    Yosowitz moved to Shearman’s San Francisco office, where he continued to work on corporate finance matters during the dot-com boom, while developing a niche for prospectus writing. But as Yosowitz learned more about the businesses he was describing, he grew frustrated. “I wanted to be on the other side of the table,” he said. In 1998, he returned to New York, to work as a strategic consultant, helping develop ideas into business plans, and eventually, offering memos for seed capital. One of his clients was Opus360, a workforce management technology company that he guided through several acquisitions, three rounds of financing, and an IPO in April 2000, the week the NASDAQ dropped  900 points. “We were the last company before the door slammed shut on that whole era,” he recalled. He moved to California to help run Opus360’s Los Angeles office, but the company stagnated in the post-tech bust and was sold.

    Yosowitz once again found himself considering disparate choices. He knew he could go back to law or consulting, but he’d missed writing since his days in Spain. He decided he’d try his hand at writing a screenplay. His first didn’t sell, but was good enough to land him an agent right out of the gate. His second screenplay was bought by Paramount Pictures. Yosowitz was hired to do rewrites on the film, but, as is often the case in Hollywood, the project died in development. When a friend from Penn called to see if he was interested in returning to the business world, he said yes.
    With a few partners they founded Educational Direct, a federal student loan consolidation company that Yosowitz, as President, grew from a pure start-up into the fourth largest in the United States, with over $5.5 billion in loan origination. The company eventually became a lender with a $2 billion line of credit, and was sold to a private equity firm in 2006. But when the credit markets collapsed and private lender participation was eliminated in 2008, the business was over. Yosowitz was charged with dismantling a company it had taken him five years to build. “It was an emotional process,” he said, but also a learning experience. “We had to take it apart in the same thoughtful manner as we did in building the business.”

    By 2009, it was time to look for new opportunities. Through his investment company AMP LLC, Yosowitz took interests in a variety of early-stage businesses. At these companies, Yosowitz continued to play the part he played throughout his career, advising on business and legal matters, and managing strategic investments from term sheets to completion.

    Yosowitz’s current project is ThinkEco, a leading NYC green technology company and inventor of the Modlet, a “smart outlet” that monitors and controls appliance electricity usage. Generally, when plugged in, appliances drain power even when not in use. The Modlet eliminates wasteful energy use by automatically turning off power to appliances when they are not needed, increasing energy efficiency and savings for both commercial and residential consumers. So far, the Modlet has been shown to save six to ten percent on monthly utility bills. The device has been featured on the Martha Stewart Show, the Today Show, and in The New York Times’ Technology section.

    Teacher, lawyer, screenwriter, executive, and entrepreneur: Yosowitz relished all of his roles, and has no regrets. “I am the sum of my experiences to date” he said. ”There are more hills to climb, and I look forward to the next opportunity.” One more road to travel.

BLS LawNotes Fall 2014

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