Google plans pan-European legal team

Google is planning to recruit an in-house team across Europe after growing by more than 50 per cent in the last year.

The internet company has been bombarded with lawsuits and regulatory issues, but it claims the need for a new European legal capability is due to “rapid growth”.

“We’re continuing to invest in Europe, evidenced through our European headcount, which has grown to over 2,500 staff in the last year,” Google global privacy counsel Peter Fleischer told The Lawyer.

Google is seeking legal chiefs for Amsterdam, London, Madrid, Milan, Moscow and Zurich. Excluding London, which is already home to a number of Google lawyers, this will be the first time the company has any lawyers based in these European cities.

Under Google’s organisational structure, the legal heads will report to senior European counsel Nigel Jones, who is based in the European headquarters in Dublin.

The company has a raft of legal issues to deal with. Earlier this month (6 July) it lost a trademark lawsuit to a German businessman, resulting in Google losing its right to use its email service Gmail in Germany.

The company is also knee-deep in the privacy versus security debate. It has announced that it will store user search records for 18 months following European regulators’ concerns over its initial 18 to 24-month period. Discussions between the regulators and Google are currently ongoing.

Also, pan-European consumer organisation Beuc has requested that the European Commission look into privacy concerns that may arise from Google’s $3.1bn (£1.53bn) acquisition of digital marketing company DoubleClick.

Google has also announced plans to acquire on-demand web security firm Postini for $625m (£307.67m), which requires European approval.