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The Privacy Advisor | New series aims to rally around new wave of privacy pros Related reading: Notes from the IAPP Publications Editor, Dec. 14, 2018

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Anyone who has been in the game for a while will likely agree there's something unique about the privacy professional community's willingness to usher in the next wave of professionals. It's often the case, new pros will tell you, that not only are established privacy pros willing to help newbies, but they do so enthusiastically, and not just at the IAPP. That's exemplified by Stanford's Center for Internet and Society’s Privacy Lunch series.

The brainchild of Albert Gidari, director of privacy at CIS, the series aims to connect students to established privacy professionals, so students might gain insights and ask questions as they plot their move into the professional world.

Gidari retired from a successful career at Perkins Coie in 2014 and began his position at Stanford the following day. Having taught up and down the West Coast over the past 20 years, he said the privacy lunch series was a response to recognizing his students “appetite, thirst and hunger for the knowledge of how to become a privacy lawyer.”

Gidari said he was constantly fielding questions from students on the topic, so he thought he would call up some folks he knew in the privacy community who could address three things: First, how did they get where they are? Second, what do they look for when they are hiring? And lastly, what does life after privacy look like? 

He said, “It’s really interesting to hear the various answers from people, in terms of what they value and the skill sets they look for. They all have really varied backgrounds and are all hiring people that are not exclusively lawyers for some of these jobs.”

So far, the series has pulled in Sue Glueck, CIPP/US, Microsoft's Academic Relations Director; Janis Kestenbaum, former senior legal adviser to Federal Trade Commission Chairwoman Edith Ramirez; Rebecca Engrav, partner in the privacy group at Perkins Coie; and Katherine Tassi, deputy general counsel, privacy and product at Snap.

The camaraderie of privacy professionals plays a huge role in ushering in new professionals, Gidari said, adding he didn't have to do any convincing for speakers to show up. 

“There really is something different about privacy professionals wanting to communicate their passion for privacy to others,” he said. “I tried to pick people for this first series who come from very different origins in their experience, people who have done very different things to become a privacy lawyer, so you can leave with the impression that there isn’t one particular route you have to take in order to become one. I think that’s an important revelation for a lot of people.”

Gidari said the more people who are helped along to find their place in the privacy community, the better the field will be.

“It’s like farm club: You’re seeding the field in order to grow a class of professionals with an education that we never got,” he said.

Kestenbaum echoed this sentiment, saying one point she made sure to stress when she spoke at the series was how lucky students are now that privacy is now an established field.

“[Students] can take classes on privacy law while they are in law school or might have an opportunity to learn about how privacy principles apply to engineering if they are engineers — that really was not true when I went to law school.”

She described her part in the series as a wonderful experience. “I’m sure it’s much more fun for me than for them because it’s getting to engage on material that I work with every day and that I find really interesting,” she said. “But to get to talk to people who are really bright and who have fresh eyes and great questions and they are all incredibly interested in the subject — it’s really energizing.”

Not only are Gidari’s law students in attendance, but the series attracts students from across the campus, including from the computer science and engineering school, the business school and even alumni. 

While Gidari said he plans to write on the lessons learned from the series, he shared that there were three main points that stood out so far. First, Gidari said, “To a person, they became what they became because they had a real passion and a love for this issue. Every one of the speakers has talked about this being about what they love to do and learn and help others understand. That’s the critical characteristic.”

Second, he said the investment of time to get an IAPP certification makes candidates stand out. "Often times the only keyword that jumps out that lets your resume bubble up to the top is that you’ve got the IAPP certification, even if you're not working in the privacy field now, you’ve shown the initiative and the effort to self-educate," he said. "That certification helps you get identified for a future job. If you can't get that fellowship or internship, or you haven’t worked on a big case for two years, you can go out and invest. There is a vehicle through IAPP that, I think, is unlike other professions."

Finally, having a grip on technology is key. "Knowing how things work, knowing the technology and knowing what the companies do is important." While he said people certainly don't have to know how to code, it's helpful. 

Whether it be in his professional career with Perkins Coie or as the director at CIS, Gidari said helping young lawyers is always incredibly rewarding.

"You see these bright-eyed, excited, smart people with their great ideas going into privacy as a profession, and it gives you a lot of hope when you face this complex world of seemingly endless privacy-invading technologies," he said. "You’re going to have a professional class of people to deal with it in the future and that’s really pretty cool, it gives you a lot of hope.”

photo credit: Jill Clardy Summer Solstice at Stanford via photopin (license)

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