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Privacy Perspectives | How my summer internship led to the IAPP's law school tiering project Related reading: Minnesota to recognize IAPP PLS certification

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My strong interest in privacy law drew me from the ideal weather of my Southern California hometown, a shady hammock in the jungles of Panama, and job security in Miami to move to the dynamic and often-cold climate of New England. That, and a desire to avoid traffic.

Happily, I can say that through the University of Maine School of Law’s certificate program in information privacy law, its Information Privacy Summer Institute and its relationship with the IAPP, I have been able to fulfill many of my privacy law goals already. (Traffic, it seems, is unavoidable.)

After just one year of the three-year law school program, I have already been able to take six credits of courses ranging in scope from global privacy enforcement to health care–specific privacy regulation. As the privacy law fellow for the class of 2021, I was given the unique opportunity to intern for 10 weeks at the IAPP, whose New Hampshire headquarters are just an hour from the Maine Law campus.

IAPP summer internship

As the world’s largest association for privacy professionals, the IAPP provides interns opportunities to connect with some of the top privacy lawyers, access the IAPP’s resources and learn about privacy firsthand. On any given day, I find myself reading decisions from the U.S. Federal Trade Commission, U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission or European Data Protection Board; writing memos, analyses and emails regarding the privacy laws from around the world; or conducting research on the privacy profession as a whole.

Law school tiering project

The summer opportunity at the IAPP exists in large part because my law school has a focus on information privacy law. Over the summer, one of my IAPP assignments was to research the privacy law curricula of law schools around the United States. I began by looking at the websites of each American Bar Association–accredited law school. To my surprise, given the relevance and demand for privacy experts, the number of schools offering substantial privacy courses — let alone, programs — is small. I found that only about 5% of law schools offer regularly scheduled privacy courses, and only 3% offer privacy as a formal specialization. If nothing else, this project gave me validation that choosing Maine Law was the right decision for its education and networking opportunities.

This project also led to the IAPP tiering U.S. law schools on their commitment to privacy courses. You can find the assessment here. Schools that are not listed or believe they are in the wrong tier are welcome to contact the IAPP by completing this short survey.

As you’ll see, because my research was limited to information publicly available on law schools’ websites, there is much room for the data to be improved, and professors and administrators are encouraged to submit missing information to the IAPP.

As a second-year law student, I recognize I still have a lot to learn regarding privacy. Nonetheless, I’m happy to have done some of that learning at the IAPP. I encourage those considering a career in privacy to apply to Maine Law and the privacy fellowship, earn a certificate in information privacy, and start their privacy journey at the IAPP. I enjoyed my time here. Oh, and the traffic really isn’t that bad.

Photo by Iñaki del Olmo on Unsplash

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