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Facebook Recruits Bay Area Judge as In-House Counsel

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By Jonathan R. Tung, Esq. on May 18, 2016 1:57 PM

The world's most popular social networking company just hired a sitting judge to join its legal team instead of turning to the legal gray matter of other Silicon Valley companies, according to the Wall Street Journal. It's a nice touch.

The hiring of that judge, U.S Magistrate Judge Paul S. Grewal, hardly seems coincidental. After all, Facebook has its hands full when it comes to hot potato legal issues.

Hiring a Sitting Judge?

It's unusual, but we suppose stranger things have happened. Facebook and Silicon Valley judge Paul S. Grewal signed on the dotted line and shook hands on a deal that would have the well-seasoned jurist join the social media company's legal team and oversea global litigation.

A Fair Bit of Time in Court

Grewal has spent a lot of time in the courtroom -- fortunately, on the good side of the bar. After going to MIT and graduating Chicago Law, he spent his first couple of years clerking for judges before moving on to private practice. Then, Grewal He has spent most much of his career cutting his teeth on intellectual property matters. He's a frequent regular at Bay Area IP bar social functions where movers and shakers in this highly rarified group of practice area rub elbows and slap shoulders.

Lately, he's been putting that IP mind of his to good and best use. Grewal presided over the mammoth cases of Oracle v. Google and Samsung v. Apple. Imagine just mentioning those names would do for your resume?

Currently, the former of those cases is still pending following a hold-up on legal issues. "Apparently," Grewal has said, "[t]his case...needs to be tried twice."

Lately, Facebook has been getting some unflattering press over its alleged manipulation of trending topics, despite FB's efforts to blunt the PR blow. We suspect that the trending topics story is in a different part of the company building, so Grewal probably couldn't be bothered with it.

One can't but help feel that Facebook opened up its wallet to bring a machine-gun to a knife fight. With the recent denial of its move to dismiss a privacy suit over the company's facial recognition software, Silicon Valley companies have stopped breathing for the time being. But more likely, Grewal's legal mind will be put to use on how to deal with recent attempts by the government to pry into customer records.

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