A fantastic profile of Apple’s top lawyer Bruce Sewell in Bloomberg on Friday reveals just how large his part of Apple’s empire is: He’s got an in-house legal staff of 500 lawyers.
Before Sewell testified on behalf of Apple in front of Congress earlier this week, he was best known as Steve Jobs’ “legal enforcer” who once went to South Korea to inform Samsung executives of all the ways its Galaxy phones infringed on iPhone patents, as part of a series of patent lawsuits that still drag on today.
Sewell’s a calm operator who can look at broader business perspectives outside of the court room. For example, during the Samsung lawsuits, he was well aware of the public relations value of the lawsuit, which portrayed Samsung as rip-off artists.
Now, he’s leading Apple’s efforts to oppose government court orders requiring it to help the FBI and law enforcement hack criminals’ iPhones.
However, Sewell’s specialty isn’t national security law, and few of Apple’s in-house lawyers are experts at the issues in the San Bernardino case. Instead, they’re best at Apple’s day-to-day business, such as licensing, patents, and contracts.
So Sewell has enlisted a few extremely high-profile lawyers, including Ted Olson, a former U.S. solicitor general, and Theodore Boutrous, a “heavyweight Los Angeles media lawyer.”
But while Olson and Boutrous regularly take Apple’s side in televised interviews, Sewell has privately taken to leaning heavily on Marc Zwillinger, as 44-year old intellectual property lawyer who used to train FBI agents on how to do digital forensics. Bloomberg reports the two “talk, email or text every day.” Zwillinger’s been working with Apple since 2011.
In Silicon Valley, Zwillinger is well known for arguing on Yahoo’s behalf against a government order in the secret Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court of Review, in which the government threatened the company with a $250,000 daily fine over refusing to give certain data access to the NSA.
As the San Bernardino and Brooklyn iPhone cases work their way through appeals, Apple watchers will get to know Sewell and Zwillinger.
The whole story at Bloomberg is well worth a read. If you’ve missed any of the ongoing developments in Apple’s battle with the FBI, you can catch up with our full breakdown of the events here.
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