Melissa K. Ventrone is a Member in the firm’s Chicago office where she addresses her clients’ cybersecurity needs. She reacts swiftly and decisively when she is enlisted on a cybersecurity breach. As leader of the cybersecurity breach response team, she focuses her experienced group of first responders, including lawyers and forensic investigators, on around-the-clock management of the situation and minimizing damage by working to limit any public or regulatory fallout. When not managing her clients’ urgent breach concerns, Melissa is a proactive consultant in managing data privacy and security risks. She is also a zealous courtroom advocate in cybersecurity litigation.
Melissa is a Certified Informational Privacy Professional (CIPP/US).
Melissa’s experience extends from small breaches impacting a few hundred people to larger breaches impacting millions on behalf of merchants, financial institutions, medical providers and educational institutions. Melissa and her team work with clients to preserve evidence, determine a breach's scope, document the response and craft communications that both meet legal requirements and protect a company's brand. She also advises on establishing incident call centers and staff training, and formulates other methods to protect impacted individuals
from potentially negative outcomes.
Melissa a track record of success in defending companies facing data security and privacy litigation, including class actions. She has represented a variety of clients in multiple industries in disputes related to privacy, invasion of privacy, contracts, consumer fraud, statutory claims and other matters. She has litigated cases of first impression establishing favorable law, including obtaining summary judgment in a class action case alleging damages from the theft of a hard drive, and successfully defending a merchant against a class action arising out of a credit card
Melissa advises clients on compliance with state, federal and international laws and regulations. She helps companies ensure that policies, procedures and cyber crisis response plans are sufficient. Melissa runs breach simulation exercises, which are very useful tools for training, testing and enhancing a company's response time in a breach situation. When vulnerabilities are found, Melissa works with management teams, boards of directors, vendors, outside consultants and other third parties to build and execute risk-reducing action plans.
In addition, Melissa drafts and negotiates contractual agreements concerning data use and retention and privacy and security, including cloud computing contracts. She also serves as a first responder for situations involving use or misuse of computers and other devices.
Melissa's leadership abilities extend beyond her legal practice. She recently completed a distinguished 21 years of service in the Marine Corps Reserve, holding several key positions, including Company Commander for a 200-person unit, Executive Officer for a 329-person company deployed to Afghanistan, Operations Officer for a 1,000-person motor transport battalion, and the Logistics Officer for Combat Logistics Regiment 4. She also volunteers as an ombudsman for the Employer Support for the Guard and Reserve in which she serves as a mediator on