Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman is starting a new global security practice under the leadership of Brian Finch, a Washington lobbyist and attorney who represents network security firms and other companies in cybersecurity matters.

The New York-based law firm, which has about 160 attorneys and staff in Washington, is the latest firm to zero in on opportunities for legal and lobbying work related to cybersecurity threats.

The number of companies, associations and other groups lobbying on data and cybersecurity issues has nearly tripled since 2008, according to a recent analysis by data analytics firm Capitol Metrics. And the number of lobby firms advocating on behalf of clients on data and cybersecurity issues also tripled during the same period.

Finch, who joined Pillsbury from Dickstein Shapiro in late May, is the newest addition to the firm’s 60-lawyer public practices division, which includes attorneys who specialize in global security, aviation, government contracting, international trade, public policy, health care and political law. Finch is co-head of the global security unit with Nancy Fischer.

Finch’s clients include McAfee, security software maker FireEye and Alexandria-based cybersecurity firm Mandiant, which was acquired by FireEye . He also represents utilities groups including the American Gas Association, which represents natural gas companies; Edison Electric Institute, which represents investor-owned electric utilities; and the American Public Power Association, which represents community-owned electric utilities.

Finch said Pillsbury’s commitment to investing in cybersecurity drew him to the firm, and that his practice meshes well with Pillsbury’s clients in the energy and financial services industries.

“Everyone has a cyber problem,” he said. “Companies have no idea what they need to do, and what will be sufficient for when a [cyber] event happens.”

Finch said his practice goes beyond handling privacy breaches aimed at identity theft and financial crimes, and focuses more on protecting critical infrastructure systems and confidential government contracting information.

“My [practice] is a bit more hardcore security, focused on organized gangs and how companies can protect themselves” from sophisticated cyber criminals often based in Eastern Europe and Asia, he said.

“They have access to some pretty sophisticated cyber weapons and programs,” Finch said. “They’re not your average bear. They’re professional criminals with skills that are able to defeat standard cybersecurity systems, are innovative and well funded. That poses a unique challenge to a lot of companies.”