Sherrese Smith currently serves as Managing Partner of Paul Hastings. In addition, she is the Vice Chair of the Data Privacy and Cybersecurity practice and a partner in the Media, Technology, and Telecommunications practice. Ms. Smith is based in the firm’s Washington, D.C. office.
As Managing Partner, Ms. Smith helps direct the growth, management, and strategy of the firm. In her practice areas, she is known as one of the country’s preeminent Data Privacy and Cybersecurity and Media and Technology attorneys. Consistently ranked as a leading lawyer in Chambers USA and Legal 500, she is recognized throughout the legal, media, communications, and technology industries for her leadership, business acumen, and dedication to clients. Her work includes data privacy, cybersecurity and breach response issues, crisis response, regulatory investigations, and enforcement proceedings, as well as counseling on global privacy and cybersecurity matters. Ms. Smith is also renowned for superior advisement on crisis issues and, as a result, is regularly sought after by corporate board members and the C-suite.
Before joining Paul Hastings, Ms. Smith served as Chief Counsel to Chairman Julius Genachowski at the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). She was responsible for determining the agency’s business and policy agenda on a multitude of media and technology matters and for leading the FCC’s cross‑agency efforts to refine and implement new rules on data privacy and cybersecurity for multinational companies navigating complex data and privacy rules in the U.S., EU, and Asia. Ms. Smith’s work also involved extensive interaction with external stakeholders, including wireless, media, cable, and telecommunications companies; industry groups and trade associations; federal and state agencies; and Congress.
Prior to joining the FCC in 2009, Ms. Smith was Vice President and General Counsel of Washington Post Digital. She was in charge of all legal and policy matters across 10 different business units in this role.
Ms. Smith also serves on the Board of Directors of NortonLifeLock (NASDAQ:NLOK) and Cable ONE (NYSE: CABO). She is also a Board Member of America’s Public Television Stations.
- Recognized by Chambers USA in its 2020 edition as among its leading Media & Entertainment lawyers. Sources say, "She is incredibly good with business clients, and has an incredibly practical and intuitive style."
- Recognized by Chambers USA in its 2020 edition as one of the leading Telecom, Broadcast & Satellite lawyers. Sources describe her as "very dynamic and an excellent practitioner."
- Honoree of Washington Business Journal’s 13th Annual Minority Business Leader Awards, 2020.
- Recognized by the Minority Corporate Counsel Association in 2020 as one of 11 MCCA Rainmakers, a select group of exceptional, diverse attorneys whose business acumen, passion, and dedication to proactive client development have set them apart as leaders in the legal profession. Each Rainmaker is noted for having contributed significantly to the law and the community through pro bono service.
- Recognized by Chambers USA in its 2019 edition as among its leading Media & Entertainment lawyers. Clients highlight her for being "able to explain issues and potential resolutions to both legal and non-legal folks." According to another source, she is "a critical resource when you are trying to find out about FCC rules and how they will be applied."
- Recognized by Chambers USA in its 2019 edition as one of the leading Telecom, Broadcast & Satellite lawyers. According to one client, "She is smart, practical, and knows the law; she makes an in-house counsel’s life easier."
- Ranked in Legal 500 in three categories for 2019: Telecom and Broadcast: Regulatory; Telecom and Broadcast: Transactional; and Cyber Law (including Data Privacy and Data Protection). Sources say: "Sherrese is a great leader." Another source says: "She brings strong skills to the top-notch transactional practice."
- Recognized by Chambers USA in its 2018 edition as among its leading Media & Entertainment lawyers. Sources say she is "very strategic and creative in her thinking" and "a great thought partner on some challenging issues."
- Recognized by Chambers USA in its 2018 edition as one of the leading Telecom, Broadcast & Satellite lawyers. Clients report: "She’s extremely helpful, quick to respond and has an answer to every question we ask. She used to be at the FCC and is very well connected there. She knows and understands the regulations very well, and is a pleasure to work with."
- Financial Times’ Innovative Lawyers Award for Great Legal Ideas. ("A multi‑disciplinary team of lawyers was responsible for a series of ideas to create a model sharing agreement for the Federal Communications Commission’s auction of television spectrum, a first of its kind. Critical to creating successful contractual instrument was enabling broadcasters to share spectrum, foresee how future technologies would develop, and write these eventualities into the contract. Commended: Sherrese Smith.")
- Influential Women in Communications Award.
- American Bar Association’s Women to Watch Award.
- Named an Outstanding In-House Counsel by the District of Columbia’s chapter of the Association of Corporate Counsel.
- Northwestern University School of Law, J.D., 1996
- University of South Carolina, B.S. in Business Administration, 1993
Media, Technology and Telecommunications
- Advises clients on structuring regulatory compliant transactions and securing FCC and Team Telecom regulatory approvals for complex media and telecommunications transactions.
- Advises clients on complex federal law and policy matters regarding foreign investment in U.S. media companies and on navigating the FCC’s rules governing multiple, cross-ownership and joint-ownership of media and telecommunications properties.
- Counsels broadcast, cable, telecommunications, equipment manufacturer, and investor clients on various matters including spectrum policy, content distribution (including retransmission consent), network-affiliate relations, mergers and acquisitions, and FCC enforcement actions.
- Counsels media and telecommunications clients on regulatory and business issues involving the use and sale of spectrum, public safety and national security, licensing, compliance, policy, and foreign ownership matters.
Privacy and Cybersecurity
- Advises and counsels domestic and international companies, including media, technology and telecommunications conglomerates, global online and retail companies, healthcare providers, and others on compliance with diverse domestic and global data protection laws and standards, including: compliance with U.S. federal and state privacy and security laws (Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act, Electronic Communications Privacy Act, TCPA, CAN-SPAM, VPPA, HIPAA, and the new California Privacy Act (CCPA) and related state privacy and security laws, among others); and various international data protection laws, including, but not limited to, the EU and U.S. Privacy Shield Frameworks and the EU Data Protection Directive and General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).
- Advises and manages crisis response for multinational companies responding to data breaches in various jurisdictions including the U.S., EU, and Asia and represents companies in associated regulatory investigations and enforcement proceedings.
- Assists organizations in developing risk management strategies, including the implementation of cybersecurity frameworks and other planning tools to minimize risk and developing incident response plans ahead of cyber incidents.
- Represents companies before regulatory agencies in connection with the formulation or consideration of new regulatory or legislative initiatives.
- Provides privacy and security advice in M&A and other corporate transactions by efficiently identifying, assessing, and quantifying risk to assist companies in making smart business decisions in business transactions and negotiations.
Engagement & Publications
A frequent lecturer on media, Internet, data protection and security, and intellectual property issues and a faculty member for the Practicing Law Institute. Recent speaking engagements and publications include:
- Panelist, Electronic Media Regulation Panel at the PLI Communications Law Program, November 2021.
- Co-Author, "Important Decision for Data Breach Litigation as Claims for Misuse of Private Information and Breach of Confidence Struck Out for Being ‘ill founded’," August 2021.
- Speaker, "Get Smart: Cybersecurity and the Board," 26th Annual Stanford Directors’ College Online, June 2021.
- Speaker, "Privacy Protection: Why Information Governance is Highly Important Now," EY Webcast, June 2021.
- Speaker, "Cybersecurity Privacy & Data Protection," Elevating Black Excellence Regional Summit, April and June 2021.
- Co-Author, "The Supreme Court and the TCPA: What Companies Should Know About the Recent Ruling," April 2021.
- Panelist, "Women’s History Month Choosing to Challenge Series: Defining Your Impact as a Leader," Paul Hastings, March 31, 2021.
- Panelist, "Relationship Building for Business Development, Leadership Opportunities, and Effective Advocacy," FCBA Women’s Summit, March 25, 2021.
- Co-Author, "Analysis and Comparison: The Virginia Consumer Data Protection Act and California Privacy Laws," February 2021.
- Panelist, "Navigating Cross-Border Data Transfers: A Practical Review of the New Draft Standard Contractual Clauses," PH Webinar, February 10, 2021.
- Speaker, "Different Types of Media and Its Lawyers," How to be Media Lawyer Program, ABA Forum on Communications Law, January 26, 2021.
- Moderator, "Impact of COVID-19 and Industry Implications," Pacific Telecommunications Council Annual Conference, January 18, 2021.
- Speaker, "What to expect in 2021: Biden Administration priorities in labor/employment, privacy and security and securities," ACC WITH Program, January 11, 2021.
- Co-Author, "Top 5 Privacy Developments in 2020 and 5 More to Prepare for in 2021," December 2020.
- Panelist, Electronic Media Regulation Panel at the PLI Communications Law Program, November 12-13, 2020.
- Co-Author, "FCC Adopts Rules Codifying Foreign Investment Process," October 2020.
- Co-Author, "CCPA Enforcement Is Coming July 1—Here’s What to Know," May 2020.
- Speaker, "Managing Covid through Technology—Privacy & Locational Tracking—an International Perspective," India International Law Foundation (IILF) in association with Associated Law Advisers and PH, May 27, 2020.
Co-Author, "Relaxation of HIPAA Restrictions in the COVID-19 Era," April 2020.
- Co-Author, "New Team Telecom Process Formalized; FCC Rules to Follow," April 2020.
- Co-Author, "PH COVID-19 Client Alert Series: Location Privacy in a Crisis—Considerations for Businesses," April 2020.
- "Breaking News! Fake News and Deep Fakes and Their Impact on American Democracy Plenary," ABA Forum on Communications Law 25th Annual Conference, Austin, TX, February 8, 2020.
- Moderator, "Topical Session—Legal & Policy," Pacific Telecommunications Council Annual Conference, Honolulu, HI, January 20, 2020.
- "Electronic Media Regulation Panel," Practicing Law Institute’s Communications Law in the Digital Age 2019, New York, November 7, 2019.
- "2020 Elections Panel (Film & TV, Social Media Policy)," BESLA at the CBC, Washington, D.C., September 11, 2019.
- Co-Author, "Steps You Can Take Now to Reduce the Risk of Litigation Under the New California Consumer Privacy Act," June 2019.
- "Making Sense of the Cybersecurity Landscape in 2019 Panel," Kellogg Alumni Club of New York and the Northwestern Law Alumni Club of NYC, New York, February 6, 2019.
- "Global Data Privacy and Security Legal Issues Panel," ABA Forum on Communications Law 24th Annual Conference, Miami Beach, FL, January 31-February 2, 2019.
- Moderator, "Topical Session—Four Key Challenges Presented by Emerging Technologies and Evolving Legal Frameworks Affecting the Telecommunications Industry," Pacific Telecommunications Council Annual Conference, Honolulu, HI, January 21, 2019.
- Author, "Data Security in the Cloud Era: Development and Dividing Lines," December 2018.
- "Electronic Media Regulation Panel," Practicing Law Institute’s Communications Law in the Digital Age 2018, New York, November 8, 2018.
- Moderator, "Women as Regulators, Women and Corporate Governance," George Washington Law Review Fall 2018 Symposium, Washington, D.C., November 2, 2018.
- "Privacy Challenges and Opportunities in Cloud Computing Panel," IAPP, New York, June 20, 2018.
- "Retrans Revenues and Costs: The Road Ahead Panel," S&P’s 35th Annual TV & Radio Finance Summit, New York, June 14, 2018.
- "Data Protection and Privacy in Internal Investigations Session," PH/Navigant Internal Investigations Forum, London, March 6, 2018.
- Interviewed by Legal Marketing Association, as a part of the P3cast series, celebrating the P3 Women’s Initiative Network and Women’s History Month, March 2018.
- Moderator, "Plenary Session—Forty Years After FCC v. Pacifica Foundation," ABA Forum on Communications Law 23rd Annual Conference, Napa, CA, March 1-3, 2018.
- Co-Author, "Key Takeaways from the FTC’s Latest Privacy Enforcement," January 2018.
- "Topical Session on the Challenges Presented by Emerging Technologies and Evolving Legal Frameworks," Pacific Telecommunications Council Annual Conference, Honolulu, HI, January 22, 2018.
- Aspen Action Forum, Aspen Institute, Aspen, CO, July 28-31, 2017.
- Co-Author, "FCC Votes to Revisit Net Neutrality Rules," May 2017.
- Co-Author, "President Trump Signs Executive Order Requiring Review of Federal Cybersecurity Policies," May 2017.
- Co-Author, "President Trump Repeals the FCC’s Broadband Privacy Rules; Legacy CPNI Rules Restored," April 2017.
- Co-Author, "New Privacy Training Requirements for Covered Federal Contractor Employees," April 2017.
- PH/GC Magazine Event: Diversity and Inclusion: Insights from Innovative General Counsel, Palo Alto, CA, March 7, 2017.
- Co-Author, "U.S. House of Representatives Approves Repeal of FCC’s Broadband Privacy Rules, Awaits Signature by President Trump," March 2017.
- Co-Author, "U.S. Senate Approves Resolution to Repeal FCC’s Broadband Privacy Rules; Resolution Heads to U.S. House of Representatives for Consideration," March 2017.
- "Topical Session—Are Legal Frameworks Facing a Changing Reality?" and "Executive Insight Roundtable—Business Data Services: Market Realities," Pacific Telecommunications Council Annual Conference, Honolulu, HI, January 16, 2017.
- Privacy and IoT Breakfast Roundtable, Paul Hastings, San Francisco, CA, January 12, 2017.
- Co-Author, "The Self-Driving Turtle Wins the Race: Managing the Privacy and Security of Fast-Paced IoT Innovation," December 2016.
- Co-Author, "FCC Releases Order Imposing New Privacy Rules on ISPs and Telcos," November 2016.
- "Electronic Media Regulation Panel," Practicing Law Institute’s Communications Law in the Digital Age 2016, New York, NY, November 10, 2016.
- "IoT Central Event on Privacy & IoT," New York, NY, October 10, 2016.
- LeftFoot Podcast Interview titled, "Be ‘The Person’ with Sherrese Smith of Paul Hastings," September 2016.
- "Women Corporate Directors Crisis Management in the Boardroom," San Diego, CA, September 27, 2016.
- "Telecommunications and Technology Panel," Corporate Counsel Women of Color Twelfth Annual Career Strategies Conference, Las Vegas, NV, September 21, 2016.
- Aspen Action Forum, Aspen Institute, Aspen, CO, July 19-22, 2016.
- Women to Watch Media Interview, July 2016.
- Co-Author, "Five Ways that Privacy Shield is Different from Safe Harbor and Five Simple Steps Companies Can Take to Prepare for Certification," July 2016.
- Co-Author, "NTIA Seeks ‘Streamlining’ of Team Telecom Process; FCC to Propose Rules," June 2016.
- Co-Author, "Third Circuit Overturns JSA Attribution Rule and Orders FCC to Complete Stalled Ownership Proceedings," May 2016.
- "Tech Disruption Meets Market Disruption," byline article published by BestTheNews.com, April 2016.
- "This Isn’t the Data You’re Looking for: Privacy, Marketing, and Online Issues Panel," ABA Forum on Communications Representing Your Local Broadcaster, Las Vegas, NV, April 17, 2016.
- "IoT Panel Event," Co-Hosted by Paul Hastings and OurCrowd, New York, NY, April 13, 2016.
- Co-Author, "FCC Releases Notice of Proposed Rulemaking for New Broadband ISP Privacy Rules," April 2016.
- Co-Author, "FCC Releases Fact Sheet Detailing Proposal for New Privacy Rules for Broadband ISPs," March 2016.
- "Leaders in Corporate Innovation," Financial Times—Paul Hastings Innovators Forum, San Jose, CA., February 11, 2016.
- "Keynote Session—Policy Issues for Reimagined Telecoms" and "Panel on Legal and Regulatory Considerations in a Digital World," Pacific Telecommunications Council Annual Conference, Honolulu, HI, January 18, 2016.
- "Electronic Media Regulation Panel," Practicing Law Institute’s Communications Law in the Digital Age 2015, New York, NY, November 12, 2015.
- HOW Forum, "The Alchemy of Innovation," New York, NY, November 6, 2015.
- "Communications Privacy and Security and FCC Enforcement," Privacy and Security Forum, Washington, D.C., October 22, 2015.
- "Data Privacy and Cybersecurity—Sharing Best Practices," Women in Corporate Governance Symposium, Washington, D.C., October 14, 2015.
- "Practical Consequences of the EU Decision on Safe Harbor," Paul Hastings Webinar, Washington, D.C., October 13, 2015.
- "Best Practices on Protecting Employee Data, Company Data & Internal Emails," Corporate Counsel Women of Color Eleventh Annual Career Strategies Conference, Atlanta, GA, September 23, 2015.
- "2015 Privacy Law Salon: Policymaker Roundtable," Washington, D.C., September 11, 2015.
- "FCC Regulatory Update," SNL Kagan’s Analyst Training in Media and Communications Program, New York, NY, August 11, 2015.
- Aspen Action Forum, Aspen Institute, Aspen, CO, July 26-31, 2015.
- "The New Economics of Retransmission Consent: Rising Rates and Rising Reverse Panel," SNL Kagan Institute’s 32nd Annual TV and Radio Finance Summit, New York, NY, June 25, 2015.
- "The Fundamentals of FCC Regulatory Law," The American Conference Institute’s FCC Boot Camp, San Francisco, CA, June 22, 2015.
- "Untwisting Regulatory Pretzels with the FCC," NAB Show, Las Vegas, NV, April 14, 2015.
- Co-Author, "Not Just Refrigerators and Light Bulbs: Connected Vehicles as an Extension of the Internet of Things," April 2015.
- Co-Author, "FCC Releases Order Subjecting Broadband Internet Access Services to Greater FCC Oversight," March 2015.
- Media Advocacy Workshop, ABA Forum, Scottsdale, AZ, February 5, 2015.
- Co-Author, "FCC Releases Fact Sheet Detailing Proposal for Unprecedented Reclassification of Mobile and Wired Broadband Internet Service," February 2015.
- "Legal and Regulatory Risks in a Broadband World," Pacific Telecommunications Council Annual Conference, Honolulu, HI, January 19, 2015.
- "Privacy Issues for Financial Institutions," AXA Law Department, New York, NY, December 12, 2014.
- "Electronic Media Regulation Panel," Practicing Law Institute’s Communications Law in the Digital Age 2014, New York, NY, November 13, 2014.
- "Media Regulation and Impact on Earnings and Valuation," SNL Kagan Media School Conference, New York, NY, October 6, 2014.
- Co-Chair, Media Law Resource Center/American Bar Association/National Association of Broadcasters, 2014 Media Law Conference, Reston, VA, September 17-19, 2014.
- "2014 Privacy Law Salon: Policymaker Roundtable," Washington, D.C., September 8-9, 2014.
- "The Economics of Retransmission Consent—The Next Two Years," SNL Kagan Summit, New York, NY, June 3, 2014.
- "A Roundtable Discussion on the Pitfalls of Emerging Technology and Other Issues," 34th Annual Ray Garrett Jr. Corporate & Securities Law Institute, Northwestern Law, Chicago, IL, May 1-2, 2014.
- Co-Author, "FCC Issues Guidance on its Review of Transactions Proposing Sharing Arrangements and Contingent Interests," March 2014.
- "Hot Issues in FCC Law," ABA Forum on Communications Law 19th Annual Conference, Aventura, FL, February 6-8, 2014.
- "Social Media Misuse in the Workplace: Privacy, Mobility, and Best Practices," National Employment Law Council’s Annual Conference, San Francisco, CA, April 23, 2014.
- "Pillar Two CLE Program—Emerging Topics in Broadcast Regulation and Dealmaking," Goldman Sachs, New York, NY, February 13, 2014.
- "Legal, Technological and Business Issues in a Global Digital Environment," Pacific Telecommunications Council Annual Conference, Honolulu, HI, January 20, 2014.
- Member, Board of Visitors, The Philip Merrill College of Journalism, University of Maryland
- Member, Board of Advisors, International Privacy and Security Forum
- Member, Board of Trustees, America’s Public Television Stations (APTS) and Member, Board of Directors, APTS Action, Inc.
- Member, Board of Directors, Student Press Law Center (2015-present)
- Board Member, American Bar Association (ABA) Forum on Media and Communications Law
- Past Member, Law360’s Cybersecurity & Privacy Editorial Advisory Board
- Past Member, Law360’s Telecommunications Editorial Advisory Board
- Member, Federal Communications Bar Association
- Past Board Member, Media Law Resource Center Institute
- Past Co-Chair, Copyright Committee of the ABA
- Admitted to practice in the District of Columbia