2021 Summit Highlights

Key Takeaways from DLA Piper’s Global Technology Virtual Summit

On April 27 and 28, 2021 DLA Piper's Technology Sector hosted its Seventh Biannual Global Technology Summit with nearly 600 attendees, which was held virtually for the first time.

Leading up to the event, Victoria Lee, DLA Piper partner, co-chair for the firm’s global technology sector and one of the guiding partners behind the event, spoke to Bloomberg Law to offer her perspective on key legal and tech trends on the horizon this year. She highlighted the importance of defining data as an asset, establishing legal policies that will help protect data, and how emerging technologies like Blockchain will continue to revolutionize industries such as financial services.  

The Summit underscored the critical need to address cybersecurity across rapidly developing technologies that are enabling our new normal, and the important role that technology leaders can play in bringing about impactful change to the industry through diversity and inclusion efforts.

This year’s speakers included: General James Mattis, senior counselor at The Cohen Group and distinguished fellow at the Hoover Institution at Stanford University; Nicholas Thompson, CEO of The Atlantic; Dr. DJ Patil, head of technology for Devoted Health; Cynthia Bright, deputy general counsel and head of Worldwide Litigation for HP; Keir D. Gumbs, deputy corporate secretary and associate general counsel for Global Corporate, M&A and Securities at Uber Technologies, Inc.; and Jennifer Yokoyama, vice president, chief IP counsel and deputy general counsel for Microsoft Corporation.

Day One Opening Session with General Mattis

For the first day’s opening session, Frank Ryan, DLA Piper global co-CEO and global co-chair, welcomed attendees and introduced the keynote speaker at the Summit, General James Mattis, senior counselor, the Cohen Group and distinguished fellow, Hoover Institution at Stanford University. During the session, which was moderated by CNBC’s Ari Levy, General Mattis spoke about leadership in a time of crisis and shared his thoughts on improving cybersecurity in the US.

General Mattis reflected on pivotal moments during the COVID-19 crisis and offered his advice on the important role US government leaders must play in global recovery efforts, such as vaccine distribution.

"In any crisis you are in a race between time and knowledge, and we are at a point right now where we have the solution for recovering from this pandemic and we must lead an international recovery effort,” said General Mattis.

He also spoke about the responsibilities that private sector leaders have to ensure that rapidly advancing technologies, such as video conference platforms and VPNS, are safe and secure for remote workers.  

“If I was a CEO of any organization or head of any state, I would be putting a lot of time into my cybersecurity efforts to create a zero-trust system, rigorous computer training, and extensive monitoring to ensure security,” General Mattis said.

When asked about the role of government in promoting cybersecurity across the US, General Mattis shared his opinion that it could, and should, be a nonpartisan matter. General Mattis said he believes it is possible to overcome differences and work across the aisle to improve cybersecurity in the country.

“I think defining the problem is essential here. Our issues could probably be made nonpartisan if you spend 55 minutes defining the problem and then gaining agreement on the problem,” said General Mattis.

“On the solution, I think it is absolutely essential that we have legislation that enables certain things because [we] are getting very close to constitutional problems of how to maintain our constitutional freedom in the face of these attacks,” he said.

Day One Second Session with Nick Thompson

Concluding the first day, Sam Zabaneh, DLA Piper partner, chair for Texas corporate & securities practice and US co-chair for the technology sector, introduced Nicholas Thompson, CEO of The Atlantic. Erin Gibson, DLA Piper partner, US co-chair for the technology sector and chair for the international trade commission practice, moderated the conversation. Thompson spoke about the impact that technology will have on economies and individuals’ right to privacy.  

Thompson shared his thoughts on how AI and facial recognition is one of the technologies that will have the largest impact in the US From every day use in phones to police surveillance, AI technology can improve processes for identifying and tracking information, he said.   

“The line between AI and computer tech in general is a little blurry. But without question AI will be one of the central elements of technological innovation in the future. There is no doubt that the ability to have machines that can process lots of information and come to solutions that humans wouldn’t have gotten and the ability for machines to mimic context of thought is improving and will be central part of economic advances in the future,” said Thompson.

To continue this innovation responsibly, Thompson recommended countries like the US put funding toward science and technology research, shared resources and data sets, and smart policies and regulations.

Day Two Opening Session with Dr. DJ Patil

Opening the second day, Ann Ford, DLA Piper partner, US chair and global co-chair for clients and sectors, welcomed back attendees and introduced Dr. DJ Patil, head of technology for devoted health, and moderator Victoria Lee, DLA Piper partner, global co-chair for technology sector and managing partner for Northern California and Silicon Valley.

Dr. Patil discussed his views on the evolution of data science and what is still needed to ensure that data is used efficiently, safely and to create a positive impact on society.  

To facilitate this transition, Dr. Patil said he believes that all datasets produced by the US government should be open source and machine readable. By making this data public, it will allow individuals and companies to create tools and programs that improve society.

As an example, Dr. Patil mentioned data that reveals the costs of MRIs at different hospitals. By opening datasets like this to the public, technology solutions could be developed that provide transparency and help inform decision-making.  

“[Data] allows tools to be built. It allows journalists to look into things. It allows us to get visibility into an opaque system for costs differentials. But it also allows us to see into potential issues that may be happening. And it allows the system to get better and healthier and more robust, and [to] reduce fragility over time,” Dr. Patil said. 

While open source data fosters innovation, Dr. Patil emphasized that it also poses risks. Systems must be developed to manage data responsibility and to understand how it is being used and changed. This is something he believes is still a work in progress.

"With software there is a chain of understanding for how software changes," said Dr. Patil. "In data we don't know how to see red lines, or provenance, of data. How do we make sure something didn't get lost? There is a fundamental gap that we have not nailed of how we understand longevity of data or [how it] gets combined into supply chains for other products."

Day Two Closing Session with In-House Counsel Panel

The closing session began with an introduction from Erin Gibson, DLA Piper partner, US co-chair for the technology sector and chair for the international trade commission practice. Cynthia Bright, deputy general counsel for Worldwide Litigation at HP moderated the panel, which also included Jennifer Yokoyama, vice president and chief IP counsel and deputy general counsel for Microsoft Corporation and Keir D. Gumbs, vice president, deputy general counsel and deputy corporate secretary for Uber Technologies.

Representing some of largest and most influential technology companies, the panelists shared their experiences advocating for greater diversity and inclusion among outside counsel teams. For example, Gumbs noted that Uber Technologies has created a process to evaluate law firms based on a set diversity requirements. According to Gumbs, it is the company’s goal to ensure its legal partners emulate the same standards that Uber works toward internally.

“We are a major consumer of 20,000 to 30,000 pieces of litigation at any given time around the world,” Gumbs said. “We realized that we wanted to use this very significant spend to help shape diversity within the legal profession.”  

Bright provided an overview of an initiative at HP with a similar purpose. Specifically, that HP mandates that teams it works with at law firms meet set minimum diversity requirements otherwise HP withholds 10% of the fee.

“We started this initiative in 2017, and we had 46% of the firms meeting those requirements,” Bright said. “We are now at 97%, and our female relationship partners went from 23% to 50%.”

Yokoyama shared how Microsoft, in addition to setting diversity standards for its firms, also works with outside counsel teams to ensure that diverse lawyers are getting meaningful work.

“We actually ask firms to track what people are doing, and we ask that diverse attorneys are given career projects on Microsoft teams—not just there to check a diversity box,” she said. 

The panelists agreed that while tremendous progress has been made on diversity and inclusion, there is more work to be done. They acknowledged that it can be challenging for champions who are passionate about the topic to build momentum.

"It is intimidating to start a diversity program from scratch,” Gumbs said. “But you don’t have to make the perfect program, you just have to start by having the conversation.”

You can find more key takeaways from this session in Law360.

What’s Next?

For more insight into the intersection of technology and legal trends, DLA Piper is hosting its fifth annual European Technology Summit on Tuesday, Oct. 5, 2021. For more information about this event, you can contact Magdalena Zmorka at Magdalena.Zmorka@dlapiper.com. The event will focus on the new era of technology-driven resilience. It will bring together business leaders from the European tech industry alongside key figures who are currently shaping the regulatory and financial landscape. For more information about DLA Piper’s Global Technology Summit and its upcoming events, please visit www.dlapipertechsummit.com.

To keep up to date with the latest DLA Piper Tech Sector news and thought leadership activity, follow our social media channels: LinkedIn and Twitter, while our Technology’s Legal Edge blog offers you our latest insights on the legal developments affecting the technology sector.