Features

Xavier Careaga Franco – Meta

Associate GC finds his professional home on the forefront of technology

As Meta’s associate general counsel on the litigation and regulatory team for Latin America, Xavier Careaga has faced high court judges and regulators who pose challenging questions about the implications of new technologies.

And Careaga is charged with explaining not just the legal case of the company behind platforms such as Facebook and Instagram, but also its products’ technical features—what they do, what they don’t do and how to prevent their misuse.

“At least for me, as a lawyer, it’s not so easy,” Careaga says. “Technology is a different language from law, and it’s moving so fast sometimes. It’s very challenging to argue tech-related cases before supreme courts of any jurisdiction.”

Xavier Careaga Franco | Associate General Counsel, Litigation & Regulatory (LatAm) | Meta

Xavier Careaga Franco | Associate General Counsel, Litigation & Regulatory (LatAm) | Meta

His goal, he says, is to make sure the courts have all the facts, so they can make informed decisions. And he’s very conscious that Meta faces a dual challenge: It has to show its products’ social value to not only the legal systems in the countries where it operates, but also to society at large, which is very interested in Meta’s work.

“Because of the significant role that Meta and other innovative technology companies are playing worldwide at the moment, there are many topics that we are handling on a day-to-day basis,” he says. “There are many questions that need to be addressed, with everyone… And we need to have those conversations about where we want our society to move to, and how we want our relationship with technology to be.”

Having tough discussions to bring LatAm up to speed

Those conversations are not happening at the same pace in every country across the world. Careaga says Latin America is at a different stage than North America, Europe and some Asian countries in the development, creation and adoption of new technologies, including discussing and deciding the broader role technology should play.

From biotech and space engineering to artificial intelligence to encryption and blockchain, new technologies and frameworks are rapidly evolving in other regions. And Careaga wants to help Latin America get up to speed.

“There are many brilliant minds in the region, many amazing companies that produce technology,” he says. “We should avoid creating a gap between the region and the rest of the world. And for that we need open discussions and cooperation between the public and private sectors.”

Many countries in Latin America are riven by divisions between the very rich and the very poor; Careaga sees technology as a tool to address and perhaps even bridge those divides. It’s a necessary step for the region to take its rightful place on the world stage, in his view.

Xavier Careaga Franco | Associate General Counsel, Litigation & Regulatory (LatAm) | Meta

“In LatAm, some countries are a little more into those discussions already; some others are not,” he says. “One element of my team’s day-to-day work is to have those conversations. Maybe they happen in a court of law; maybe they happen in Congress, or before a regulator; or maybe they happen in an academic forum.”

Sailing uncharted waters

As part of the litigation and regulatory team, it’s also Careaga’s job to manage risk, which he says can be difficult. Much as he relishes a challenge, digital product development frequently involves uncharted legal territory and requires creative legal thinking.

“Consider I am in a company that is always innovating; the legal implications of creating new services and products are that many times we are in untested waters,” Careaga says. “So that is for me a very intriguing scenario, and it has unknown risks. You need creative and innovative lawyers to navigate those waters, to understand what a new technology, a new feature, a new product will mean in the face of the law and our users.”

Oftentimes, Careaga can’t consult nonexistent case law or statute because he’s defending an innovative product with yet-to-be-seen legal consequences. And while, as he notes, “Humans always try to build on the shoulders of giants,” there are at most faint similarities in previous cases or statutes.

“The stakes are high: We want to do it right, we want to create products that actually protect people, that actually help,” Careaga says. “And we also need to remember that technology is neutral. There will be good users that will love the products and use them as intended, or even better, but there will always be some bad users that use them to harm others. And we need to be careful in how we find balance.”

When he’s not litigating, Careaga has been working to automate processes in his department to save money and spare his team from repetitive and time-consuming tasks, such as the intake, classification, triaging and processing of litigation and regulatory cases. And he’s built fail-safes into his automation processes to make sure he’s covered every possibility.

Xavier Careaga Franco | Associate General Counsel, Litigation & Regulatory (LatAm) | Meta

Careaga has also been working on inspiring others to pursue tech law and encouraging fellow lawyers to learn more about technology and apply those lessons to their respective specialties.

“Nowadays, all areas of law are somehow impacted by tech,” he says. “We need more brilliant people to get on board.”

The path home

A 2012 graduate of Universidad Panamericana, Careaga worked as a junior associate at Baker & McKenzie’s Mexico City office from 2012 to 2015. He then joined Mexico’s National Commission on Human Rights in 2015 and earned his LLM from Harvard Law School in 2017, specializing in tech law.

“I was hired on my commencement day at Harvard,” he recalls. “I received a call from Facebook, now Meta, saying, ‘Hey, you were selected. You are hired.’ And like two hours later, Mark Zuckerberg was giving the commencement speech. So he was already my boss when he gave the speech, not that he knows. It was an extraordinary day.”

Today, Careaga feels at home at Meta, where he is using his legal training to help shape the technology of the future.

“I studied law because I wanted to understand the rules of society, of how we manage to get along together—because that’s the story of humanity, the story of cooperation between people who don’t know each other and have nothing in common,” he says. “But nevertheless, we decide to build extraordinary things together.”

View this feature in the Vanguard Summer I 2023 Edition here.

Published on: May 16, 2023

regions:

categories:

Showcase your feature on your website with a custom “As Featured in Vanguard” badge that links directly to your article!

Copy and paste this script into your page coding (ideally right before the closing tag) where you want to display our review banner.

Testimonials

As promised in advance, my feature in Vanguard has increased my visibility within the profession and prompted more than a few people I have not communicated with recently to reconnect. One of the Italian law firms I have used in the past is now in the process of interviewing me for an article on their website and tweeting out the feature story. Activity and the number of people connecting with me on LinkedIn has soared, which is great. The Vanguard writers and editorial staff were great to work with—highly professional and made the effort to make the experience both fun and rewarding (they were also respectful of the time pressures and demands all lawyers face). I was very pleased with the experience and the final outcome. Needless to say, I have been very pleased. All in all working with Vanguard has been a very positive experience which generated good publicity for both Shawcor and myself. My sincere thanks.
– Tim Hutzul, General Counsel, ShawCor Ltd.
I was honored to be the subject of an article. I enjoy reading Vanguard articles and seeing how other attorneys got to their positions and see their jobs. It's also interesting to see how different law firms partner with the subjects of the articles.
– Henry Marquard, in-house counsel, Stanley Consultants Inc.
The piece highlighting my company, Bob Baker Enterprises, Inc., came out fabulous. Our company is in the new and used car sales and service industry. Everyone was great to work with and extremely professional. They produced a high-quality product and have provided expert assistance and guidance post-production of the article.
– Wade Poulson, General Counsel, Bob Baker Enterprises Inc.
It was a great honor to be featured in Vanguard Law. Working with every member of the team, from the initial interview with Erin Clark, through production with Victor Martins, writing the article with Taryn Plumb and creating the final content with Dave Gushee, was a true pleasure. Everyone was very professional, enthusiastic and supportive, and their creative approach and positive attitude clearly came through in the final product.
– Kevin C. Rakowski, Senior Vice President, Deputy General Counsel, Compliance with Radian Group Inc.

LATEST EDITION

Spring III 2024

READ NOW

GET VANGUARD IN YOUR INBOX.

  • * We’ll never share your email or info with anyone.
  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.