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The Privacy Advisor | IAPP's Privacy Law Specialist certification becomes official Related reading: Analysis: Brazil's new data protection law

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Editor's Note:

Molly Hulefeld recently wrote about how to apply for the Privacy Law Specialist accreditation in an article for The Privacy Advisor.

Yesterday, at a meeting in Vancouver, British Columbia, the American Bar Association's House of Delegates voted to approve a resolution on the IAPP’s Privacy Law Specialist accreditation for a five-year term.

Under U.S. law, attorneys have the right to advertise that they specialize in a particular field of law if they are certified as such by a “bona fide” organization. The IAPP's 2016 proposal had been pulled from the calendar at the August 2017 annual meeting of the House of Delegates due to some concerns among a few delegates that the definition of privacy law was missing from the IAPP’s application, and later that the definition of privacy law was too broad.

But at the meeting of the Standing Committee on Specialization, Chair Barb Howard moved for support of the IAPP’s program and gave strong remarks in favor of it. Three delegates spoke against the resolution, each of them complaining that the definition of “privacy law” was too broad and would be confusing to members of the public. But those in favor of the resolution pointed out that lawyer specialty certification programs are available for those who practice family law or criminal law, for example, both of which cover a wide variety of laws.

In the end, several more delegates spoke in favor of the resolution than against, and a voice vote was taken twice. The chair determined that the “ayes” had it, and the IAPP’s program was therefore approved.

“With this vote, lawyers who wish to distinguish themselves from the crowd and demonstrate to potential employers or clients that they have taken extra steps to develop privacy law credentials have an opportunity to do so," said IAPP Research Director Rita Heimes, CIPP/E, CIPP/US, CIPM. "The IAPP is proud to be acknowledged by the ABA as an accredited provider of the Privacy Law Specialist certification."

The credential will be available to attorneys admitted to a U.S. state bar who pass the CIPP/US exam, as well as either the CIPM or the CIPT. Those wishing to attain "specialist" status must submit evidence of their practice in the field of privacy law, as well as proof of attending privacy law CLEs and letters of reference from at least five peers — typically, from other attorneys.

Roughly one-half of U.S. state bar organizations recognize the ABA’s accreditation law specialty certification programs. Some states require attorneys to be acknowledged as specialists by their own state-level programs, some do not require certification by an accredited program, and a couple will not allow advertising of specialty regardless.

Details on how to apply for the specialist designation, as well as state-level specialization, are forthcoming. 

photo credit: The Open University (OU) Balance Scales (Ethics) via photopin (license)

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