Betsy (Colleen) Popken

Special Counsel

San Francisco

Betsy draws upon a decade of legal and policy experience to address sensitive business and legal issues for her clients. Whether guiding high-profile tech companies through cutting-edge human rights challenges, advising on front-page international peace negotiations, or safeguarding executives from white collar matters, Betsy resolves conflict while preserving her client’s reputation.

As a leader of Orrick’s Business and Human Rights practice, Betsy helps companies uncover, address, and remediate human rights issues. This area of law is particularly critical for high-profile tech companies, which can be more susceptible to the reputational, business, and legal risks associated with violations concerning the freedom of expression, right to privacy, gender equality, and other human rights issues. Betsy’s work has ranged from helping a tech start-up build its business consistent with human rights norms to helping a tech giant realign its policies to meet international human rights law standards.

Betsy first honed her ability to balance high-stakes and complex legal and ethical challenges while advising parties involved in international peace negotiations. She provides legal assistance to the Syrian opposition in United Nations-mediated peace negotiations through the Public International Law & Policy Group (PILPG). Betsy also serves as an expert advisor to The Shaikh Group's track II Northeast Syria dialogue, and works on its efforts to develop technology solutions to structural conflict resolution barriers. She previously worked with PILPG on the UN-mediated Darfur peace negotiations, provided legal and policy assistance to the Libyan National Transitional Council, and founded PILPG’s Istanbul office when she was based there during the Geneva III peace negotiations.

In her white collar practice, Betsy applies the same delicate approach to help companies and individuals avoid or calm a public outcry. When faced with allegations of corruption or other criminal issues, clients rely on Betsy to thoroughly investigate, and offer a precise plan forward.

Betsy maintains close ties to the human rights and foreign policy communities by serving as a term member of the Council on Foreign Relations and an Ambassador Council member of the International Crisis Group.

Betsy is a Lecturer in Law at Stanford Law School where she teaches negotiations. She previously guest lectured at UC Berkeley's Human Rights Center, University of San Francisco School of Law, and American University Washington College of Law.

  • Prior to Orrick Betsy worked for the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, the Pacific Council on International Policy, and U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein.
  • A representative selection of Betsy's client work includes:

    • Provided legal advice to technology company regarding matters implicating human rights and international criminal law
    • Represented former technology company CEO in a range of civil matters and potential government investigations
    • Conducted internal investigations in China and Argentina for a Fortune 50 company involving allegations of potential violations of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act
    • Served on a Monitorship team, assessing compliance-related issues in Mexico
    • Represented a Japanese manufacturer in a criminal price-fixing investigation by the Department of Justice
    • Represented a German manufacturer in a criminal cartel investigation by the Department of Justice and the European Commission
    • Represented a corporate executive in criminal matters under the Economic Espionage Act