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The Privacy Advisor | The inaugural class of Privacy Law Specialists is unveiled Related reading: NC state bar now offers privacy and information security law specialization

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For the first time in IAPP history, 27 members were named Privacy Law Specialists Aug. 10. The designation carries with it an acknowledgment that a candidate has successfully demonstrated a knowledge of relevant privacy laws, regulation and technology; a commitment to staying ahead of new developments in the field; and substantial time devoted to practicing law related to safeguarding personal information. Representing privacy professionals looking to distinguish themselves in the field, a few of the inaugural class members spoke with The Privacy Advisor on why the distinction is important to them. 

When the first submission window opened April 2 promising to usher in the first wave of Privacy Law Specialists, Cassandra Porter, CIPP/US, CIPM, FIP, PLS, jumped on it. She had known she wanted to achieve the PLS distinction since learning about it in 2016. Porter said, “I told my colleagues, ‘I’m going to apply as soon as applications are open,’ and [I] started studying for the CIPM.”

Porter added the PLS affords lawyers in the privacy space an edge when working with clients or negotiating with other lawyers. She also considers “IAPP certifications to be a litmus test” for how a negotiation with opposing counsel will go. “If I’m negotiating with a fellow IAPP member, I know it will be a fruitful discussion.” She added, “It's because IAPP members care about the same issue: What is the right thing to do?”

Chris Cwalina, CIPP/US, CIPM, FIP, PLS, global co-head of cyber risk at Norton Rose Fulbright, explained how the PLS designation helps to measurably demonstrate experience. Its existence, he said, establishes privacy as an area of law that requires specialized knowledge and expertise. 

“The growth of the privacy profession has been tremendous. What the PLS does is to help distinguish privacy lawyers who have devoted themselves to the field and helps solidify privacy law as an area of expertise that requires a certain level of knowledge, years of experience and credentials. It's no longer regarded as an area of law that can be practiced superficially, and the PLS helps to reinforce that fact," Cwalina said. 

He went on to explain that the American Bar Association’s recognition of privacy as a specialty helps lawyers highlight their work in a meaningful way. “It's a formal recognition that privacy is not only an area of law but one that is growing, complicated and worthy of its own distinction,” he said.

Likewise, Denise Farnsworth, CIPP/E, CIPP/US, CIPM, PLS, deputy data protection officer at Facebook, said, "For lawyers, it’s a great opportunity to demonstrate a very specific and deep knowledge about privacy and data security. I think it’s incredibly valuable. As a lawyer, these types of specialty designations are needed to help our clients understand who has a deep understanding of specific areas. I think this is going to help open the door for several of these types of designations. It’s a leap forward in the legal profession.”  

Farnsworth added, "If people see the privacy designation attached to names, it’s going to help create a market. I believe the privacy designation will help broaden the privacy and data security knowledge base for lawyers in general." 

The next submission window closes Sept. 30. Find more information here.

photo credit: 3D Scales of Justice via photopin (license)

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