Alston & Bird has expanded its national security, cybersecurity, and data privacy litigation capabilities with the addition of former U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) cyber and national security prosecutor Kellen Dwyer as partner in the firm’s Washington, D.C. office.
Dwyer, who served in the DOJ in several high-ranking cyber and national security roles, was most recently the deputy assistant attorney general in the department’s National Security Division, where he formulated national security cyber policy and led the DOJ in combatting state-sponsored hacking.
“Kellen is a battle-hardened veteran in the country’s ongoing fight against cybercrime by nation-states, criminal organizations, hacktivists, and other bad actors,” said Kristy Brown, Alston & Bird partner and co-chair of the firm’s Litigation & Trial Practice Group and Privacy & Cybersecurity Litigation Team. “As one of the country’s top federal cybercrime prosecutors, Kellen’s significant experience with investigations and enforcement further strengthens our ability to represent clients in global and domestic matters related to cyber terrorism, national security, critical infrastructure, and other mission-critical areas.”
While deputy assistant attorney general, Dwyer led the DOJ’s national security and cybersecurity policy on issues such as encryption, cryptocurrency, EU data protection laws, data breach notification, supply-chain security, and foreign election interference. He was the DOJ’s chief representative on the National Security Council’s Cyber Response Group, where he coordinated the U.S. government’s response to several high-profile cybersecurity incidents, including the recent unprecedented supply-chain attack involving nation-state actors, and oversaw the FBI’s Foreign Influence Task Force in its efforts to secure the 2020 Election against hacking and disinformation by foreign intelligence agencies. Dwyer also oversaw the National Security Division’s appellate unit, which advised on novel legal questions arising under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act and Electronic Communications Privacy Act, among other statutes, and litigated before the U.S. Supreme Court, circuit courts, and Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court of Review.
Before that role, Dwyer briefly served as counsel to the DOJ’s assistant attorney general for National Security and spent six years as an assistant U.S. attorney in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia, where he prosecuted some of the DOJ’s most consequential hacking cases, including the indictment of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange. He also led the department’s first-of-its-kind prosecution of a Russian-based malware-testing service called Scan4You, which helped computer hackers develop some of the world’s most destructive malware that led to more than $20 billion in economic losses. For his successful prosecution of this criminal enterprise, Dwyer was recognized with the Attorney General’s Award for Distinguished Service, the DOJ’s highest honor.
“With the Biden administration recently announcing its willingness to treat cybercrime and ransomware as a national security threat, Kellen’s arrival couldn’t have come at a better time,” said Kim Peretti, Alston & Bird partner and co-chair of the firm’s Privacy, Cyber & Data Strategy and National Security & Digital Crimes Teams. “The potential use of national security and offensive capabilities against organized cybercriminal activity is welcome news for companies and industries targeted with ransomware and plays directly to Kellen’s strengths.”
Before joining the Justice Department, Dwyer was in private practice at a Washington, D.C. law firm, where he represented major technology companies in civil litigation and government investigations. He also served as a law clerk for the Hon. Diarmuid F. O’Scannlain, senior judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, and Hon. Kenneth M. Karas, judge on the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York.
An adjunct professor in cyber-crime and data security at George Mason’s Scalia Law School, Dwyer earned his undergraduate degree from Gettysburg College and his J.D. from Yale Law School, where he was a notes editor on the Yale Law Journal and managing editor of the Yale Law & Policy Review.
"Kellen’s significant federal experience in cyber and national security litigation adds a key component to our market-leading practices in global privacy, data protection, and cybersecurity,” said Dennis Garris, partner in charge of Alston & Bird’s Washington, D.C. office. “Given the threat posed by ransomware and other cyber attacks to companies the world over, Kellen will be a trusted adviser and advocate that every client will want in their corner.”
Dwyer is the most recent addition in a long list of former federal prosecutors who have joined Alston & Bird. Other recent arrivals include BJay Pak, Jody Hunt, Joey Burby, and Larry Sommerfeld in Atlanta and Joanna Hendon and Jenny Kramer in New York.