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Medical records, credit card data, your Social Security number – all that information is stored in computers. Passwords and firewalls protect that information, and today the law does as well.
One of the experts in that emerging legal field is Linn Foster Freedman, a partner in the Providence office of Nixon Peabody LLP, an international firm with 700 attorneys. She leads its privacy and data protection group, a team of 22 lawyers – all information-security experts – in offices around the globe.
“It’s only been a field for the past five years,” Freedman said. “[Data security is] growing and it’s rapidly changing, because the laws haven’t been able to keep up with the technology.”
Freedman previously blazed a trail in courtrooms with litigation battles she took on as top lieutenant to the state attorney general.
She began her career in Louisiana, studying at Tulane University and Loyola University School of Law. When her husband, physician Steve Freedman, was ready to begin his medical residency, they relocated to Rhode Island.
After several years with Gidley, Sarli & Marusak, she joined the office of the state attorney general in 1998. She was soon promoted to deputy chief of the civil division, a post she held until 2003.
Working under Sheldon Whitehouse before he became a U.S. senator, she handled a number of high-profile cases and projects.
“I loved working in the attorney general’s office,” she said. “There’s nothing better than walking into a court and saying, ‘I represent the people of the state of Rhode Island.’ ”
The biggest legal battle the office took on at that time was a first-of-its-kind suit against paint manufacturers – demanding the industry pay for cleaning up lead hazards in homes throughout Rhode Island. Freedman was the lead prosecutor in the first eight-week trial, which ended in a hung jury. In 2006 – after Freedman’s move to Nixon Peabody – jurors decided in favor of the state, but the R.I. Supreme Court later overturned the verdict, dismissing the case.