Spotlight on . . . Sandy Garfinkel
October 8, 2018
Sandy Garfinkel joined the firm’s Pittsburgh office in 1996. Growing up, he lived in Squirrel Hill, a neighborhood of Pittsburgh, and O’Hara Township, just outside of downtown Pittsburgh. Today, he lives in Fox Chapel with his wife, who was a lawyer at Eckert Seamans before going in-house at Alcoa. Together, they have a 23-year-old daughter, who works at the University of Pittsburgh, and a 20-year-old son, who is a junior at Duquesne University.
Sandy is a business litigator who serves as the chair of the firm’s Data Security & Privacy Group. As a nationally regarded authority on data security and privacy matters, Sandy is regularly published and speaks at numerous industry conferences on preparing for and responding to data breaches. Sandy also works closely with the firm’s business clients concerning all aspects of General Data Protection Regulation compliance and enforcement. He works with clients on data security and privacy matters across a variety of industries and sectors, including hospitality, consumer products, insurance, education, health care, manufacturing, and telecommunications.
Sandy counsels his clients on laws relating to the collection, use, and protection of personal information as well as mitigating risks and reducing exposure to investigations and litigation arising from the loss, theft, or exposure of personal data. He guides clients through all stages of breach matters, including advance planning and preparation, response and notification, government investigations and regulatory response, and, when necessary, litigation. Sandy also maintains a busy and diverse business litigation practice with a particular emphasis in the hospitality industry.
What led you to pursue a career in law?
Using language and ideas as the tools of my job was appealing to me, and frankly I could not make a steady living playing music.
What do you enjoy most about your practice?
Solving problems. I love my current data security/privacy practice, which is truly on the cutting edge of the legal world right now. Also, after being at two other firms before coming to Eckert Seamans, I place a very high value on the supportive culture and high level of professionalism among the people here.
I know you are a musician, can you tell us about your musical interests and abilities?
My father was a jazz musician and I was raised listening to great music but didn’t begin to play seriously until I was about 20. Someone bought me a harmonica as a gag gift but I figured out how to actually play the thing, to everyone’s surprise. I learned several styles but blues is my favorite.
I attended Emory University and was a classmate and friend of Amy Ray, one of the Indigo Girls. I began to play with the Indigo Girls regularly when they were still a local bar band. I was privileged to be along for the ride as their popularity exploded in just a few years. They were eventually signed by Epic Records and I went off to law school.
Can you tell us about any particularly memorable shows/gigs you’ve played?
Here are a few places I’ve played, in no particular order: Central Park Summer Stage, Red Rocks Amphitheater, Mann Music Center, Post-Gazette Pavilion, Fox Theater (Atlanta), Soldiers & Sailors in Oakland, JR Palumbo Center, Uptown Lounge (Athens, GA), 9:30 Club (D.C.), Merriweather Post Pavilion.
The festivals were the best because I got to meet tons of other bands and musicians: REM, Sheryl Crow, Joan Baez, the B-52s, Patti Smith, and many others. I also did some studio recording. I appear on three of the Indigo Girls’ albums – plus the records of a few other bands that I had relationships with back in the 80s and 90s.
You lived abroad for a while, right? Where did you live and what prompted the move?
My wife was an in-house lawyer at PPG, and the company asked her to move temporarily to Switzerland to serve as European General Counsel. Our children were 8 and 11. We lived in a small village outside of Lausanne called Epalinges, in the French-speaking region of Switzerland, from August 2006 to August 2008.
What’s something from that country’s culture (food, music, etc.) that you are still particularly fond of?
Switzerland’s natural beauty almost defies description. Soaring mountains, crystalline lakes, green valleys with peaceful farms, and it’s all absolutely free of litter — not one cigarette butt on the ground anywhere. I spent a lot of time hiking in the mountains.
What makes you laugh?
Creative wordplay. I’m a sucker for a clever pun, even though most people roll their eyes at puns.
Who or what inspires you?
My wife. She was never into sports, but a few years ago she discovered competitive rowing and became completely obsessed. She wakes up a 4:30 a.m. to row on the river or use rowing machines and she never, ever complains. At our age, finding and pursuing something so life-changing is truly inspiring.