Monika Kuschewsky, CIPP/E, has made the leap from Covington and Burling to Squire Patton Boggs as a partner in its Brussels office. The move is an exciting one, a sort of semi-capstone on a life-long journey that she said is akin to an heirloom.
“My family — my father — used to be a judge," she said. "It’s totally in my genes." Studying law in Germany after her undergraduate studies at Bristol University was a simple choice for her as she decided to forge ahead with public and administration law.
Then there was the privacy meet-cute. “When I was a young lawyer in Brussels in the early 2000s, my friend at the time was desperate, looking for someone who could answer questions on the European data protection law in the member states,” she said. “So I volunteered.”
The next few years was a combination of time spent with Van Bael & Bellis, a Brussels-based law firm, and eventually Covington and Burling. There, she spent four years as special counsel.
“I got to be a part of the privacy practice,” she said. “It’s been a great experience. But moving forward, it’s important to have global footprints.”
Cut to her transition to SPB, her new professional home.
“It has 46 offices in the world, 20 in Europe,” she said. “With the [General Data Protection Regulation], with increased focus on regulation, I think it’s very important to have offices in the member states, in the countries themselves, to help them.”
It doesn’t hurt that SPB has long had roots in Kuschewsky’s home country, Germany. “They’ve been in Germany for 15 years, and now we have this connection, and it’s fantastic.”
Kuschewsky looks forward to hitting the ground running with the firm, and she listed the myriad projects on her horizon with a sort of energized nonchalance. SPB has “a lot of lot of synergy with the practice groups and then industry focus … and I want to continue to develop those and building those,” she said. “There’s a lot going on at present in Brussels. GDPR ... so many initiatives.”
Then there's Brexit concerns, Internet of Things-related dilemmas, and a handful of privacy issues going through transitions as times change. In the face of all these challenges, the ultimate goal is to continue to foster SPB as a “one-stop shop” for privacy needs, she added.
Then there’s her IAPP relationship, one fostered early in the organization’s history when CEO and President Trevor Hughes, CIPP, came to Brussels on a scouting trip.
“That’s how I got to know him, and that’s how I got to know the organization,” she said. Kuschewsky moonlights as an event speaker, article writer and exam developer.
While she acknowledges strong relationships have spurred and enriched her privacy journey, she understands that perhaps the strongest flint has been her passion for the field.
“I have driven by myself,” she said. “I am very energetic, very passionate, very creative from very early on.” Seizing relevant opportunities when they come up has proved enormously beneficial. “I attended classes. When the CIPP/E was out, that was something I had to do. Come the opportunity to edit a book, I took that opportunity immediately,” she said.
Her affection for the interdisciplinary bleeds into her personal life, as well.
When she’s not at work, she’s with her family and her children.
“Other than that, I’m a big Berlin fan,” Kuschewsky said. “And a fan of museums, whenever I can. I spend time in museums. And reading – that’s my passion apart from work.”
She can’t, however, stay far from privacy for long. “There are lots of books you know, and novels about cybersecurity. ... And the movies! And the miniseries. And art as well! It’s so interesting to see. [Privacy’s] a really sexy topic,” she said. “You can hardly get away.”
Neither, it seems, can she.
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