March 11, 2019

George Jepsen | Partner, Shipman & Goodwin LLP

George Jepsen

Serving as Connecticut's attorney general for eight years, George Jepsen several times joined other state attorneys general in class action lawsuits against corporate entities.

Now that his AG term is up, he's taken a job at Hartford law firm Shipman & Goodwin LLP's newly minted state attorneys general group, where one of his jobs will include representing corporate clients facing such class action suits.

The role reversal may have come as a surprise to some, though Jepsen said he was looking for his final career move after leaving the AG's office.

His new task will include assisting clients with any issues they may confront in dealing with attorneys general across the country, including avoiding or responding to investigations, litigation and enforcement actions, Jepsen said.

He may also assist attorneys general looking for help and counsel on investigations, particularly multistate actions.

After hanging up his AG hat, Jepsen said he'll miss the staffers he worked with for nearly a decade, and the stream of interesting issues he regularly litigated. However, he added, his new job also positions him to work on challenging legal cases that will likely have an impact on public policy.

He also has a familiar business partner. His former Chief Deputy AG Perry Zinn Rowthorn is helping him launch the new Shipman & Goodwin practice.

How much of an adjustment is it for you moving from prosecutions to defending corporate clients facing enforcement action from other attorneys general?

At a fundamental level, I've always been a problem-solver, and I see the work we will be doing as a continuation of that. As attorney general, I took a practical, bipartisan approach to addressing problems confronting the state and the country. We found that businesses often recognized that problems of concern for attorneys general were also problems they needed to address.

In that sense, responsible businesses and attorneys general share an interest in credible, creative and practical problem-solving. We have a lot to offer in assisting with those kinds of efforts.

In recent years there have been a number of class-action suits filed by the attorneys general of several states against corporations for things like anti-trust, data privacy and environmental issues. What are the biggest challenges in defending a client in these suits?

Attorneys general have broad powers to seek wide-ranging relief from companies they perceive to be engaged in wrongdoing, and those powers are multiplied when states work together in multistate coalitions.

Indeed, the penalties and other relief facing companies embroiled in multistate litigation can be existential. When companies find themselves the target of attorney-general actions, be it investigations, litigation or enforcement, the right legal advice and counsel can make the difference between a good outcome and disaster.

What are companies' responsibilities when it comes to data privacy?

Attorneys general have become the principal privacy regulators in the country. Generally, companies need to take thoughtful and careful measures to safeguard sensitive information; be transparent with consumers as to how information will be gathered, stored and used; and be sure to respond quickly and effectively to breaches, including appropriately informing consumers and law enforcement.

You were active in the National Association of Attorneys General, which has been a hub for multistate suits. What insights into these kinds of suits does this give you?

Attorneys general — whatever their party and state — want to protect their citizens by solving the problems confronting them. As long as businesses recognize real problems when they exist, and are willing to be candid and cooperative, they can work successfully with attorneys general to solve the issues and find reasonable and acceptable solutions.

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