Harriet Pearson

Lecturer in Law

Harriet Pearson guides companies and boards through the legal, compliance, policy, and reputational issues stemming from the intersection of business, technology, and society.

Her subject matter experience is particularly extensive in cybersecurity, data governance, and privacy where she draws on years in private legal practice as well as longstanding service as IBM’s first global chief privacy officer and security counsel. She regularly trains board directors and senior leaders on these topics and advises companies that experience ransomware, data breach, and other types of incidents on their investigation, response and remediation.

Over the course of her 30+ year career, Harriet’s leadership roles have exposed her to almost any type of issue that can arise in business, law, and public policy, and include assignments as head of innovation and new ventures for global law firm Hogan Lovells as well as corporate affairs vice president, public affairs director, and HR vice president for IBM.

Harriet maintains an active legal and consulting practice based in Washington, D.C.

In January 2022 she will teach a course on Cybersecurity, Business and the Law by invitation at the UCLA School of Law. She previously served for several years as an adjunct instructor at Georgetown University’s Communication, Culture & Technology graduate program, where she taught a seminar on Trust, Privacy and Data.

Harriet has been dubbed by various legal sector publications as “the First Lady of Privacy,” North America’s “Legal Innovator of the Year,” one of 500 “Leading Lawyers in America,” and a “Cybersecurity and Privacy Trailblazer.” She is top ranked (Band 1, based on client and peer reviews) by Chambers and Partners for privacy and data security. Among her professional affiliations are advisory board memberships in the Electronic Privacy Information Center, the Future of Privacy Forum, and the Georgetown Cybersecurity Law Institute which she co-founded in 2021 and co-chaired for six years.  She also currently serves as senior privacy and cybersecurity advisor to the HR Policy Association, the association of chief human resources officers in the United States.

Harriet graduated with honors from Princeton University and the UCLA School of Law (Order of the Coif) and completed executive leadership training courses at Harvard Business School and Said Business School of Oxford University.

A first-generation American and college graduate born and raised in New York City, Harriet now lives outside of Washington, D.C., in the Eastern Panhandle of West Virginia.  In addition to volunteering with several non-profit organizations that serve health and educational needs in that region, she and her husband are active investors in two community-focused ventures:  a regional news magazine, The WV Independent Observer, which she publishes; and the Shepherdstown Opera House, a vaudeville-era theater currently being restored to serve as a performance space in the historic district of West Virginia’s oldest town, for whom she is leading the creation of a non-profit organization to support its cultural and educational missions.