Federal and state investigative credentials will bolster the firm’s Congressional Investigations and State AG practices; Jones played a major role in privacy and data security issues at federal and state levels; led efforts to write new cybersecurity and data security laws in Congress and Illinois.
Washington, DC – June 29, 2015 – Venable LLP has announced that Erik Jones, former investigative counsel to the U.S. Senate Commerce Committee and House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform and former Illinois Assistant Attorney General, has joined the firm as a partner in the Washington, DC office. Mr. Jones will lead and coordinate Venable's Congressional Investigations practice and will work closely with the firm’s State AG and E-Commerce, Privacy and Data Security practices.
Mr. Jones most recently supervised the Illinois Attorney General's Policy Bureau and served as both a senior attorney and advisor to State Attorney General Lisa Madigan, with responsibility for developing and managing legislative, investigative, and outreach initiatives. Among his responsibilities, Mr. Jones served as Attorney General Madigan's key advisor on data security and privacy matters. He was active in NAAG’s working group on privacy and data security, which the Illinois AG’s office helps lead.
Prior to serving in the office of the Illinois AG, Mr. Jones was a senior counsel on Capitol Hill, and a leading investigative counsel to both the House (2007-09) and the Senate (2009-13). He served as Deputy General Counsel and Chief Investigative Counsel for the U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, chaired by Sen. Jay Rockefeller, where he helped create the Committee's Office of Oversight and Investigations. In that role, he helped develop the Committee's procedures for interviews, confidentiality, privilege requests, subpoenas, and document retention. Prior to his work in the Senate, Mr. Jones was Counsel to the House Committee on Energy & Commerce and Oversight & Government Reform, chaired by Rep. Henry Waxman. During his time in the House and Senate, he helped direct more than 30 investigations and hearings.
Mr. Jones led and worked on a diverse range of congressional investigations related to e-commerce practices, privacy, telecommunications, transportation, energy, space policy, environmental regulations, product safety, the financial sector, health care, and government contracting. Notably, he led the Commerce Committee's investigation of abusive billing practices on the Internet and used the findings of the investigation to draft the Restore Online Shoppers' Confidence Act ("ROSCA"), signed into law by President Obama in 2010. While serving as counsel to the House Oversight Committee, he led the investigation that uncovered high levels of formaldehyde in trailers that the Federal Emergency Management Agency supplied to victims of Hurricane Katrina.
At Venable, Mr. Jones joins a formidable Congressional Investigations team with considerable experience, that includes former Senator Mark L. Pryor, who served for ten years on the Senate's Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations, and former Congressman Bart Stupak, who chaired the House Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee, as well as William R. Nordwind, Stuart P. Ingis, Milo Cividanes, and others who have served as counsel representing numerous companies in congressional investigations.
Mr. Jones has been especially active at the intersection of law and technology. He played a major role in congressional work on data security and technology issues, taking the lead in drafting and negotiating significant portions of the Cybersecurity Act. He led the Commerce Committee's survey of cybersecurity practices among Fortune 500 companies and helped push for the establishment of the NIST Cybersecurity Framework, the public-private partnership for developing cybersecurity standards. He also directed the first federal investigation into the privacy practices of data brokers and managed the Committee's Internet governance portfolio, which included ICANN's decision to expand top-level domain names.
While working in the Illinois AG's office, he helped develop and implement a plan to respond to the wave of data breaches affecting consumers. He was the primary staff attorney working with the AG who drafted and negotiated the first significant update to Illinois law on data security, directed efforts to educate Illinois businesses and residents on data privacy and data security issues, and participated in numerous investigations of significant data breaches affecting Fortune 500 companies. During his time with the office, Mr. Jones also initiated and led the Attorney General's inquiry into the collection of consumer medical information by websites and apps, led a statewide investigation into employers' use of payroll cards, successfully drafted and negotiated a law to regulate payroll cards, and drafted and negotiated a law aimed at patent trolls.
At Venable, Mr. Jones will work closely with the firm's State AG Practice, led by U.S. Senator and Arkansas Attorney General Mark L. Pryor. "State attorneys general have become power players in ongoing investigations into data breach and data security issues," Senator Pryor said. "Erik brings keen insight and experience about navigating the process from inquiry to investigation and potential prosecution."
"We've only begun seeing how businesses will cope with the challenges of complying with multi-state data security rules alongside federal regulations," the Senator added. "Erik has been at the forefront of this type of regulation. Our clients will gain tremendously from his experience."
Venable has for many years had one of the nation's premier privacy and data security practices. Co-headed by Stuart Ingis and Milo Cividanes, the firm has won the Chambers USA Award for Excellence for both top privacy and top advertising practice in the United States.
Mr. Jones commented on his joining Venable. "I previously worked with both Stu Ingis and Milo Cividanes and know them to be well ahead of the curve on privacy and data security matters. Venable grasps the critical intersection of law and technology as well as any firm," he added. "As this area continues to grow in importance, I believe Venable is uniquely positioned to advise companies on how to comply with new regulations and cope with the investigative and enforcement hurdles that follow."
Mr. Jones earned his J.D. from the University of Michigan Law School (2004) and his B.S. from Southern Illinois University Edwardsville (2001). He began his legal career in the Washington, DC office of an international law firm.
Note: Venable LLP is an American Lawyer Global 100 law firm headquartered in Washington, DC, with offices in California, Delaware, Maryland, New York, and Virginia. Our lawyers and legislative advisors serve the needs of domestic and international clients in all areas of corporate and business law, complex litigation, intellectual property, regulatory, and government affairs. For more information, visit www.venable.com.