Michael Whitener is a VLP Partner whose legal practice focuses on two areas: (1) technology transactions and (2) data privacy and cybersecurity.

In the technology transactions area, Michael drafts and negotiates agreements relating to software and patent licensing, alliances, reseller and referral arrangements, manufacturing, supply and distribution, outsourcing, cloud computing and other internet services, and website terms of service. His constant goal is “plain English” documents that are clear, comprehensive and balanced, while protecting his clients’ interests. He also advises clients on protecting and preserving their copyrights, trade secrets, patents and other valuable intellectual property, as well as appropriate use of open source software.

In the data privacy and cybersecurity area, Michael provides practical advice on the collection, use, sharing and protection of data in compliance with an ever-changing network of privacy laws. He conducts privacy audits and risk assessments, drafts privacy/security policies and data transfer agreements, advises on compliance with U.S. and foreign data privacy laws and regulations (including the CCPA and the GDPR), and assists companies in preventing and responding to data security incidents. Michael’s data privacy expertise includes Big Data analytics, mobile applications, privacy by design, and cross-border data transfers.

Michael has received all seven certifications offered by the International Association of Privacy Professionals (IAPP), including certifications in the laws of the United States (CIPP/US), European Union (CIPP/E), Asia (CIPP/A), and Canada (CIPP/C), U.S. governmental privacy laws (CIPP/G), IT privacy best practices (CIPT) and information privacy management (CIPM). In 2016, the IAPP designated Michael as a Fellow of Information Privacy. He was named a “BTI Client Service All-Star” in 2016 and 2019.

Michael has spent much of his legal career overseas, including postings in Tokyo, Singapore, Sydney and Doha. He was Group Counsel – International at the technology consulting firm BearingPoint, and General Counsel/Managing Director at the satellite communications firm WorldSpace Asia. He also spent two years as Senior Trade Adviser to the International Trade Administration, U.S. Department of Commerce, and was a Fulbright Fellow in Japan for a year.

Michael was previously in private practice with Sidley Austin and Hogan Lovells. He received his law degree from the University of Virginia School of Law and undergraduate degree (in English literature) from the College of William & Mary.

I’ve gotten into powerlifting the last few years, working with an excellent trainer here in Santa Fe.

Recently I entered my first meet and set a New Mexico bench press record. Now I’m hooked. Deadlift record, I’m coming for you!


  • J.D., University of Virginia School of Law
  • B.A., College of William & Mary

Honors & Awards

  • International Association of Privacy Professionals Fellow of Information Privacy
  • BTI Client Service All-Star 2016 and 2019

Community Involvement

  • Montgomery County Board of Education: Member, Ethics Panel (2012-15)
    • “Your Website’s Terms of Use and Privacy Policy: Significant Issues for Consideration,” The Knowledge Group webinar (January 24, 2017)
    • “A New Era of US-EU Data Privacy,” Thomson Reuters Legal Current podcast interview (April 8, 2016)
    • “Professor Scalia & the Paper Chase,” Thomson Reuters Legal Current podcast interview (March 7, 2016)
    • “Is Your Car Really a Transformer?” Thomson Reuters Legal Current podcast interview (August 17, 2015)
    • “Nine Hot-Button Legal Issues in SaaS Agreements,” Clear Law Institute webinar (June 26, 2015)
    • “Negotiating Software as a Service Contracts,” Strafford Publications webinar (Sept 9, 2014)
    • “Data Security in the Cloud: The Legal Challenges,” SaaS University, Austin, TX (Feb. 29, 2012)
    • “Behavioral Advertising,” ITechLaw 8th Annual Asian Conference, Bangalore, India (Feb. 23, 2012)