Christopher Wolf is a director of Hogan Lovells' Privacy and Information Management practice group. Chris is widely recognized as one of the leading American practitioners in the field of privacy and data security law. He is known to clients as a practical problem solver on issues arising from the collection, use, retention, sharing, and security of personal data; as a thoughtful compliance counselor focused on risk management; and as an effective advocate in federal court, at the Federal Trade Commission or before state agencies, on the entire range of international and domestic privacy issues.
Chris is known to the privacy community as a thought leader and compelling communicator. The prestigious Practising Law Institute (PLI) tapped Chris to serve as editor and lead author of its first-ever treatise on the subject, and to serve as co-editor of its guide to the FACTA Red Flags identity theft regulations. Chris recently was heralded for his "lifelong experience as a litigator" by Chambers USA by ranking him as one of the nation's top privacy lawyers. He also was asked to form and co-chair The Future of Privacy Forum, a think tank that focuses on modern privacy issues with a business practical-consumer friendly perspective, collaborating with industry, government, academia, and privacy advocates. When MSNBC labeled Chris "a pioneer in Internet law," it was reflecting on his participation in many of the precedent-setting matters that form the framework of modern privacy law.
Chris has deep experience in the entire range of international, federal, and state privacy and data security laws, including financial and health information privacy laws, as well as the many sectoral and geographic regulations, such as the EU Directive and the new state data security laws including those in Massachusetts and Nevada. Chris also counsels clients on compliance with self-regulatory regimes.
Among the services Chris provides to clients is a legal review to assess an entity's compliance (or the compliance of business partners or acquisition targets in transactions) with the patchwork quilt of privacy and data security laws. As part of the compliance review, Chris assists in the drafting or revision of policies and third-party contracts to foster greater legal compliance. He also advises on the permissible scope of marketing using personal information in light of existing and emerging legal restrictions.
In addition, drawing on nearly 30 years as a litigator, Chris represents clients in all kinds of privacy and data security litigation that results from the disclosure or exposure of private information, including through data security breaches.
Chris has appeared as a speaker for the International Association of Privacy Professionals (for whom he organized a day-long data security breach workshop and recently spoke on behavioral advertising), and for the Canadian Association of Chief Privacy Officers. He appears annually at the PLI Institute on Privacy and Security Law. He also has spoken at colleges and universities including Harvard, Stanford, Berkeley, the University of Chicago, George Washington University, Georgetown University, and the Washington & Lee University School of Law. He is a frequent television guest on privacy and related issues, appearing on PBS, NBC, MSNBC, CNN, Fox News, and others.
In 2011, Chris was the only private law firm attorney with a speaking role at the eG8 Forum in Paris, an event hosted by French President Sarkozy prior to the G8 Summit. Maurice Levy, Chairman of Publicis and of the eG8 Forum, has observed that Chris is a "key player in the [Internet] community" who, through his role as a speaker in the eG8 privacy workshop "[made an] important contribution to ensuring that the Forum was an unprecedented moment in the history of the Internet and ... a rich generator of ideas for policy-makers and industry leaders alike."
Chris chaired the Washington board of the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) and is a national ADL leader, serving in various capacities nationally. Chris also served as chair and is a board member of the International Network Against Cyber-Hate (INACH), where he helps fight online hate speech. Chris has represented the ADL and INACH at conferences in London, Paris, Warsaw, Stockholm, Berlin, Jerusalem, and Herzliya. In 2010, Chris was presented with the Outstanding Alumnus Award by his law school, and received this tribute: "There are few lawyers in the nation (indeed, few lawyers in the world) who have done more to champion the norms of human decency and respect for the rule of law in the Internet environment, than Chris Wolf," said Washington & Lee University School of Law Dean Rodney A. Smolla at the awards ceremony. "It is difficult to imagine a graduate of our law school who more exemplifies the ideals that this school cherishes, ideals of respect for the rule of law, human decency, and public service."
The pro bono matters handled by Chris include McVeigh v. Cohen, 983 F.Supp. 215 (D.D.C. 1998), in which a federal court enjoined the United States Navy from discharging a Naval Chief Petty Officer for violating the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy on gays and lesbians in the military because the Navy obtained information from AOL in violation of the Electronic Communications Privacy Act. Chris also successfully represented Army First Lieutenant (and Arizona State Delegate) Steve May in resisting his proposed discharge under "Don't Ask, Don't Tell," a matter involving the Speech and Debate Clause of the U.S. Constitution. Chris has served as outside general counsel for the International Centre for Missing and Exploited Children, and he has helped organize volunteer pro bono legal services from D.C. Bar members for the Whitman-Walker Clinic.
Prior to joining the firm, Chris was a partner in a large, international law firm. Chris is a fourth-generation Washingtonian who started his career in Washington, D.C. as law clerk to The Honorable Aubrey E. Robinson, Jr., of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. While in law school, he was a member of the Washington & Lee Law Review.