Peyton Engel did not follow the usual path to becoming a lawyer.
The associate at Hurley, Burish & Stanton worked for more than 18 years in the information-technology industry before going to law school.
“I saw an opportunity between law and technology, especially with all of the compliance issues involved. You had technology people who didn’t understand the law, and legal experts who did not understand technology,” said Engel, adding he was also inspired by watching an attorney represent a defendant in a business-espionage case that saw him helping to gather technical evidence.
“The experience I had by working before going to law school taught me a lot, too,” Engel said. “It taught me a lot about working with corporate clients, which I can utilize in my practice.”
At Hurley, Burish & Stanton in Madison, Engel’s duties falls into three areas: civil litigation, including contract disputes and tort defense; representing licensed professionals who are facing disciplinary action; and work as an expert witness.
Engel said his work with clients makes him confident he is making a difference.
“In my previous work, I would pull together reports and hand them to clients and you never knew what they did with them. I was really feeling burned out,” Engel said. “Now I find the most gratifying part of my job is that I am able to get results for my clients and see their reaction.”
Engel is a Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP) – something that sets him apart from most attorneys, said John Mitby, an attorney at Hurley, Burish & Stanton.
“Peyton is one of the very few attorneys with in-depth technology-systems experience and the ability to put that expertise to work in his practice,” he said. “Peyton’s know-how and sound advice have made a positive impact with his clients where he has received consistent client satisfaction with his legal work.”
Using his IT background to help clients or other attorneys comes natural to Engel.
“When it comes to IT forensics, attorneys appreciate I can help them and their clients figure out what evidence found on a phone, for example, means,” he said. “I know how the phones work, I know how the networks work and I can explain it all in an understandable way.”
Engel’s IT background helps in another way. For one, it makes is easier for him to sort through digital evidence.
“There is more evidence on phones and computers and being able to get through that effectively as possible is a big plus,” he said.