A top homeland security adviser to President George W. Bush, Frances Townsend joined Baker Botts as partner in the firm’s new global security and corporate risk counseling practice. She’ll head up the group, advising clients on national and homeland security issues.
Townsend, who started April 1 in the firm’s D.C. office, will focus her practice on risk management, strategic counseling, international business transactions subject to government review, government investigations, and electronic privacy and security.
Global law firms like Baker Botts will be seeing more action and growth in practice groups like hers because of the ever-changing nature of threats to businesses, she says. From managing cyber-attacks on computers that control infrastructure such as electrical grids to building “redundancy and resiliency” into businesses’ contingency and continuity plans, companies need advice to mitigate their risk and vulnerabilities and to deal with government and new regulation, she says.
In tough economic times “it becomes all the more important to manage your risk effectively and to anticipate risk,” she says.
Her early background as a litigator, prosecuting cases as an assistant district attorney in Brooklyn and later in an organized crime unit in the U.S. attorney’s office in Manhattan, she says, will continue to be an asset. “I know how to fight about it,” she says. “The idea is to provide some insight to folks so they won’t have to fight about it.”
Townsend had nearly four years experience serving as assistant to the president for homeland security and counterterrorism from May 2004 to January 2008. She also had stints advising former attorney general Janet Reno and heading up Justice’s Office of Intelligence Policy and Review.
After leaving the White House position in January 2008, Townsend ran her own consulting business, advising clients including Activision, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, and Raytheon. She also frequently appears on CNN as a national security commentator.