Why did you decide to become an In-House Counsel?
"I took a somewhat circuitous path to becoming an in-house counsel. After articling at a full service Bay Street firm, I spent time honing my skills as a privacy lawyer in a variety of settings. I worked for a privacy research company, in government, in private practice, and for an alternative legal services firm. In each of these roles, I gained valuable insight on the challenges that different sectors and organizations face with respect to privacy, data governance, and compliance. I saw an opportunity - as in-house counsel - to help build a mature privacy program, while at the same time, learn about how data fits into the organization’s overall business strategy and strategic goals. "
Is the role of In-House Counsel shifting? Yes or no, and how so?
"The role of in-house counsel is shifting in a number of ways. We need to be agile and proactive in anticipating and responding to issues. This is particularly crucial in an area like privacy, which is in a state of rapid growth and constant change. In the last five years, we have seen dramatic changes from a legislative standpoint, such as the implementation of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) in the EU and its stringent penalties, to the recent Bill C11 that will overall privacy law in Canada. In addition, our clients are sophisticated and have increasing demands with respect to our ability to protect their data. As a result, we must monitor for changes in the law, have conversations with our peers and colleagues around best practices and trends, and constantly revisit internal policies and procedures. In many ways, occupying the role of in-house counsel means you are a perpetual student - and I mean that in the best way possible. "
Describe your proudest accomplishments in your legal career to date
"My proudest accomplishment to date was recognizing when I needed to take a break. Like many of my friends and colleagues in the legal profession, I have always been very driven and eager to reach my next career goal. A few years ago, I had this moment where I felt as though I had lost touch with activities outside of work that bring me joy, and make me feel whole. After careful reflection and speaking with my family, friends, and mentors, I decided to take a year off of work to focus on my interests outside of law. I appreciate that I was fortunate to be in a position where taking a year off of work was possible. In my year away from law, I took several creative writing courses and began working on a novel. I ran, practiced yoga and meditation, and spent time with loved ones. When it was time to get back to work, I returned with a newfound sense of direction, energy and enthusiasm for my legal practice. I also developed a healthier approach to work/life balance, which I found to be achievable in an in-house role. I truly believe that making time to focus on other aspects of life has made me a better - and certainly a happier - lawyer. "
How are you leveraging legal technology?
"Legal technology has been helpful in terms of automating certain tasks. A good example is data mapping - automation can help large organizations maintain accurate and up to date records of how data is stored in a way that lawyers would find very difficult to achieve. Technological advancements on responding to access requests and incident response handling will be extremely useful for in-house privacy counsel to leverage."
If you had a magic wand and you could change one thing about the legal industry, what would it be?
"Embrace change in a variety of ways. Hire diverse candidates so that your workforce mirrors the general population. Champion innovation and creative thinking. Be open to new perspectives and don’t be wedded to doing things a certain way because that’s how it’s always been done. The legal profession has a reputation of being risk averse and slow to change, but shifting this mindset can open the profession to new people, ideas and opportunities."
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