Avi Gesser
  1. Partner

Mr. Gesser is a partner in Davis Polk’s Litigation Department. He represents clients in a wide range of cybersecurity issues, enforcement and investigation matters, and complex commercial litigation.

As a principal member of Davis Polk’s Cybersecurity and Data Privacy practice, Mr. Gesser has substantial experience advising clients on compliance with various cybersecurity regulations, enhancing cybersecurity policies, procedures, training and governance, cloud migration, and data minimization, as well as cybersecurity risk disclosures and due diligence. He advises clients who have experienced data breaches and ransom-related cyber incidents, and has conducted internal investigations relating to cybersecurity events, such as phishing/spoofing attacks, and represented companies in related civil litigations and regulatory investigations. Mr. Gesser was recently retained by a global financial services firm in connection with a sophisticated attack on their computer system, as well as several international financial institutions on complying with the New York Department of Financial Services cyber regulations. He is also a frequent commentator on cybersecurity issues and the primary author of the Davis Polk Cyber Breach Center.

Mr. Gesser also represents companies and financial institutions in investigations relating to anti-money laundering, sanctions, and FCPA compliance. He has been advising several U.S. and international financial institutions in connection with cross-border tax investigations conducted by DOJ, the SEC and the New York Department of Financial Services, and with the subsequent enhancement of their compliance polices.

Mr. Gesser was a former Counsel to the Chief of the Justice Department, Criminal Division’s Fraud Section, which oversaw more than 100 federal prosecutors and was the Deputy Director of the Justice Department, Criminal Division’s Deepwater Horizon Task Force, where he was responsible for its operations, which included 12 prosecutors and dozens of agents. 

Work Highlights

  • Advising a major media company on responding to a ransom demand and threat to disclose sensitive company electronic information
  • Representing a major financial services company in connection with a cybersecurity breach, including:
    • Investigating the causes of the breach;
    • Working with forensic experts to assess whether data was accessed, identifying the intruder, ensuring that any vulnerabilities have been remediated and the intruder has been completely removed from the system; 
    • Determining regulatory and contractual disclosure obligations; and
    • Briefing auditors, insurers and regulators on the events.
  • Representing major financial institutions in investigations being conducted by DOJ, SEC and NYDFS relating to evasion of U.S. taxes by their customers
  • Conducting internal investigations for international financial institutions regarding their compliance relating to sanctions, AML, FCPA and cross-border tax issues
  • Advising several international financial institutions on complying with the New York Department of Financial Services cyber regulations
  • Conducting internal investigations for global companies in response to whistleblower allegations
  • Conducted several internal investigations relating to various phishing and spoofing attacks
  • Advised clients on cybersecurity policies, procedures and training, as well as cyberbreach prevention and mitigation measures
  • Advised clients on regulatory disclosures relating to cybersecurity risks and incidents
  • Represented a financial firm in connection with an investigation by the New York Police Department’s Cybercrimes Unit involving a cyberattack
  • Acted as trial counsel in connection with corporate ownership issues in Delaware Chancery Court
  • Represented a major investment bank in class actions involving analyst independence issues
  • Served as a lead negotiator of a multiyear comprehensive agreement between a global tobacco company and multiple non-U.S. governmental bodies related to international trade issues
  • Represented corporations and individuals in various investigations that have been resolved favorably prior to trial (either via deferred prosecution agreement or because no action was taken at the conclusion of the investigation)
  • Represented Delta Air Lines and the Minneapolis Star Tribune in bankruptcy litigation, including several trials, in their Chapter 11 restructurings   

Recognition

Mr. Gesser is the recipient of numerous awards and has been recognized for his work in the legal profession, including:

  • The Attorney General’s Exceptional Service Award, 2013
  • FBI Director’s Award for Excellence – Outstanding Criminal Investigation, 2013
  • Benchmark Litigation – “Future Star”: New York

Professional History

  • Partner, Davis Polk, 2007-2010; 2013-present
  • Deputy Director, Deepwater Horizon Task Force, Criminal Division, U.S. Department of Justice, 2011-2013 
  • Counsel to the Chief of the Fraud Section, Criminal Division, U.S. Department of Justice, 2010-2012
  • Associate, Davis Polk, 1998-1999; 2000-2007
  • Law Clerk, Hon. I. Leo Glasser, U.S. District Court, E.D. New York, 1999-2000

Bar Admissions

  • State of New York
  • U.S. Court of Appeals, First Circuit
  • U.S. Court of Appeals, Fourth Circuit
  • U.S. Court of Appeals, Ninth Circuit
  • U.S. District Court, E.D. New York
  • U.S. District Court, S.D. New York
  • Manitoba Court of Queen's Bench

Education

  • B.Sc., University of Manitoba, 1991
    • with highest honors
  • LL.B., University of Manitoba Faculty of Law, 1994
  • LL.M., University of Cambridge, 1995
  • LL.M., New York University School of Law, 1998
    • Graduate Editor, Journal of International Law and Politics