Leaving EFF and Starting a Law Practice

When I started my final year of law school in 2002, I asked myself, what’s the most fantastic job you can imagine having in your legal career?

I came up with two answers: being a staff attorney at the Electronic Frontier Foundation, or working at Google.

The first answer is self-evident.  EFF is a non-profit civil liberties organization that fights to protect your digital rights.  I’ve been a staff attorney there for the past seven years, and can confirm that my law school instinct was right. EFF is full of brilliant, passionate, visionary people defending the public interest and making a critically important impact on the digital world. I can’t speak highly enough of my colleagues and the organization.

My second answer requires a little context. In 2002, Google was a startup still years away from a public offering, and it was known mostly for Google Search, which was thoroughly disrupting the status quo.  There were other search engines—AltaVista, Lycos, WebCrawler, Yahoo, Excite, Ask Jeeves, to name a few—but Google revolutionized the way we discovered and used information. I thought Google Search might be a leap forward in human innovation as major as the printing press, and I liked the idea of working there because I thought it would be amazing to help such an important creation reach its full potential for users.

Google is not the same company it was in 2002, and it faces very different challenges today (which it handles with the support of a fleet of lawyers). But I continue to be intrigued by the thought of helping the up-and-comers, little guys with big ideas.

To that end, I’m leaving EFF on Wednesday, taking a little time off, and then starting a boutique law firm focused on legal issues arising from cutting-edge innovation.

I’ll be helping entrepreneurs and developers think strategically about digital privacy, copyright, free expression, provider immunity, computer crime, and consumer protection issues, and work with innovators to navigate thorny legal issues as they create wonderful new things.

I’ll also continue to litigate cases raising novel Internet law issues, with a focus on matters at the appellate level and above.

I’ve devoted a lot of time to information security professionals and hackers over the past few years, and I’ll keep working with those communities. I’ll continue to represent Andrew Auernheimer pro bono along with the other members of his defense team as we challenge his conviction in the Third Circuit. I’ll also partner with EFF to provide pro bono counseling to speakers before and during the Black Hat USA, Security BSides Las Vegas, and DEF CON 21 conferences in July.

I’ve got other interesting things in the works, so keep an eye on this site—which will soon be overhauled—for developments. In the meantime, if you have any questions or want to discuss the possibility of working together, shoot me a note at marcia@marciahofmann.com (PGP fingerprint 8916 0C03 6AD8 A00A 131F A220 9528 8B7F 4624 6F0E).

I’m tremendously excited to start this new venture and work on building a groundbreaking practice. As tough as it is to leave EFF, I’m happy to say that I’ll continue to be a fellow there. It’s been a great pleasure to work at EFF, and I’m thrilled to remain close to an organization I respect so much.