Meet Alex Spiro, a lawyer 'in constant motion' who is helping Elon Musk change Twitter
Attorney Alex Spiro emerges from a courtroom at the Palm Beach County Courthouse in April 2019 in West Palm Beach, Florida. Photo by Patrick Dove/TCPalm.com via the Associated Press.
Updated: Alex Spiro—a lawyer with a celebrity client list—has become one of Tesla CEO and Twitter owner Elon Musk’s “closest lieutenants, confidants and consiglieres,” according to a profile by the Washington Post.
Spiro, 39, is a 2008 Harvard Law School graduate who has represented rapper and entrepreneur Jay-Z, former NFL star Aaron Hernandez, Chance the Rapper and tennis star Naomi Osaka, according to the Washington Post.
Now, Spiro is a member of Musk’s inner circle who “has done a lot of the heavy lifting behind the scenes on virtually all legal matters” in Musk’s overhaul of Twitter, the article reports. He is being described as the current head of Twitter’s legal department in a message on an internal message board, although it’s unclear how long he will fill that role.
Ronald Sullivan, a professor at Harvard Law, told the Washington Post that Spiro has “a dogged personality” that helps him persevere until he gets what he wants. Spiro juggles multiple cases at once and is “in constant motion,” said Sullivan, who worked on a few cases with Spiro and tapped him to help teach a litigation class.
Spiro is a partner at Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan, according to Bloomberg Law. He first represented Musk in 2019 in a defamation lawsuit by a British cave diver labeled a “pedo guy” by Musk. Spiro won the case. He has also represented Musk in a second defamation suit by an online critic and in litigation with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.
Currently, Spiro is trying to allay concerns that layoffs and resignations at Twitter will lead to violations of a consent decree with the Federal Trade Commission, the Washington Post reports.
Among those resigning were three top officers overseeing information security, compliance and privacy, according to a Slack message from a Twitter lawyer first obtained by the Verge.
The FTC said in a statement Thursday it is “tracking recent developments at Twitter with deep concern.”
In 2011, Twitter agreed in an FTC settlement that it would not misrepresent its privacy and security practices. In a new settlement in May 2022, Twitter agreed to pay a $150 million penalty for using email addresses and phone numbers collected for two-factor authentication to target users with ads. The May settlement also required privacy assessments before the launch of new products and said false corporate submissions would be made under penalty of perjury.
In an internal Slack message, a privacy lawyer with the company said Twitter’s legal department was asking engineers to “self-certify,” leading to concerns that employees could face liability. The lawyer also said he has heard Spiro say Musk is willing to take on a huge amount of risk because “Elon puts rockets into space, he’s not afraid of the FTC.”
In an email sent to employees, Spiro offered reassurances that compliance is the obligation of the company, and any liability would fall on the company—not individual employees.
“We spoke to the FTC today about our continuing obligations and have a constructive ongoing dialogue,” Spiro wrote in the email.
Spiro didn’t have legal work in mind when he first went to college.
As an undergrad, Spiro studied psychology at Tufts University and worked at Harvard’s psychiatric hospital, where he developed an educational program for children with Asperger’s syndrome and autism. He once considered being a doctor but decided that law was a better way to fight for the issues that are important to him, he told the Harvard Crimson in April 2020.
After college, Spiro worked as a prosecutor and then became a defense lawyer with Brafman & Associates, where he represented many high-profile clients.
Spiro also chaired the Fair Punishment Project, but he told the Harvard Crimson he’s too busy to do more.
“I have no schedule. I have no set sleeping time. I have no nothing,” Spiro told the Harvard Crimson. “It’s responding to whatever the urgency is in that moment and juggling a lot of things at once and trying to navigate complicated situations.”
Spiro was a guest on the first episode of the Original Jurisdiction podcast hosted by David Lat, the founder of the Above the Law blog.
“Who is the top trial lawyer in America?” Lat wrote in September. “The question would trigger a fierce debate. But here’s something most close observers of the legal profession can agree on: Alex Spiro of Quinn Emanuel is up there. And he’s probably the only one on the short list who’s under 40.”
Updated Nov. 11 at 9:08 a.m. to add information on the Federal Trade Commission’s concerns and Alex Spiro’s response.