Best Lawyer in Privacy and Data Security Law: Jessica B. Lee Bridges the Legal Gap Between Media, Privacy and Community

The Brooklyn Bridge has done more for Jessica B. Lee, Partner and Co-Chair of Privacy, Security & Data Innovations at Loeb & Loeb, than connect her to her work. It has connected her legal background, interest in media and passion for supporting her community.

During her Publisher Forum Santa Monica keynote address, “Escaping CCPA Limbo,” on Monday, March 9, Lee will discuss the newly implemented (and still fluid) California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) and how publishers and ad tech professionals can use the narrative of the law to build new bridges to customers.

Using New Privacy Laws as Bridges to Consumer Conversation

Undoubtedly, the upcoming changes to privacy laws will continue to keep Lee on her toes.

“Adjusting to the new regulatory landscape is the biggest issue facing the industry right now,” she says.

According to Lee, new legislation like the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) out of the EU and CCPA are just starting the wave of laws that will change the landscape of how companies handle data.

But whereas 2019 seemed to focus on the negativity surrounding marketing and technology, Lee is looking to 2020 as more of an opportunity to build bridges to reconnect with and reengage with her community. “I don’t think ad tech will go away or fail. It’s a matter of pivoting and adapting,” Lee says, “We need to figure out how to communicate with consumers about what we do with their information.”

Finding Direction

Lee’s road to becoming a privacy law expert started at a very early age. As a youth, she was already being groomed for a legal career.

“In my family, being a lawyer was the holy grail,” Lee says, “Everyone just felt it was the profession I’d go into.”

Her family believed in it so much that at the age of 14, Lee was given a copy of Black’s Law Dictionary and the Constitution to study and was instructed to write down the amendments.

While the law certainly interested her, Lee was torn between that field and journalism, current events and delivering the truth. But ultimately, the family push toward the legal profession won out.

A few years later, she attended Columbia College and then went on to pursue her Juris Doctor degree at Columbia University where she made her mark as the first person in her family to become a lawyer.

After getting her legal feet wet, she joined Loeb & Loeb in 2011 as a Senior Associate and became a partner there in 2017.

Creating the Road Map

The path to Lee’s legal career did not come without its challenges.

“A lot of the obstacles come from the challenges in seeing and understanding how to navigate the path forward. You have concrete steps that you have to take to become a lawyer: get the grades, go to college, go to grad school, pass the bar…” she says, “But then you become a lawyer and your clearly defined path falls aside. It can be hard to navigate without a road map, so staying on course is a challenge.”

Nevertheless, she persisted. Lee put the map together herself, combining what she wanted to get out of her career with her interest in supporting the media to carve out her own niche of legal practice.

“Ten years ago, it was marketing law, advertising and using data for advertising and innovation purposes–and Loeb sits at the intersection of all these areas online. Over time though, the issue of privacy has become such a big issue that it’s really taken over and is now the mainstay of my job,” says Lee.

"I don’t think ad tech will go away or fail. It’s a matter of pivoting and adapting. We need to figure out how to communicate with consumers about what we do with their information."

Citing massive new regulations that will change the legal framework of how businesses operate, Lee says it’s this dynamic nature of the privacy beast that keeps her motivated.

A Rewarding Path

With hard work, comes accolades and rewards.

Lee’s professional and personal work have not gone unrecognized in the legal community.

Among her many awards and recognitions, Lee was most recently named “Best Lawyer” in Privacy and Data Security Law by The Best Lawyers in America (2020) and CUP Law Catalyst by The Council of Urban Professionals (2019) for her pro-bono work.

For Lee, these awards help affirm that she is on the right path. “A lot of the work we do is behind the scenes, the hours can be grueling, and we don’t always feel the immediate gratification on a day-to-day basis. These awards are recognition that help you overcome periods of self-doubt.”

Connecting to Culture and Community

“I can’t just focus on the legal side of things, though, I need to focus on the full picture and maintain my own sanity and interests,” admits Lee.

And she found that outlet over time by moving to Brooklyn.

“Living as a lawyer with a practice in the city, Brooklyn offers real and symbolic ways to unplug. You can cross the bridge and go to a new place that’s culturally diverse,” Lee says, “Having that is an important way to be a well-rounded attorney.”

Lee has not only made her home in Brooklyn, but she also focuses on giving back to the community that gives so much to her. She takes an active role in nonprofit programs like Reel Works, Groove with Me and Hudson Link for Higher Education in Prison.

“It’s great to have success, but it means less until you give back to the community. There’s an educational thread throughout all the groups I am involved with, and I get to see first-hand how these programs have an impact,” says Lee.

“It’s so easy to think the things you’re going through are the most important and challenging. These groups give me context and really put things into perspective,” she adds.

To learn more about how your organization can navigate its way through new privacy laws, join Lee Monday, March 9 at 4pm for her keynote, “Escaping CCPA Limbo.”