40 Under 40 - introduction

  • 01 September 2018

Welcome to the first edition of the Global Data Review 40 Under 40, in which we profile the 40 individuals who represent the best and the brightest of the data law bar around the world.

What is a data lawyer? There isn’t an easy answer.

Ten years ago, people working in the tech space frequently focused on legal advice around IT and outsourcing; US privacy lawyers advised or litigated around the patchwork of federal and state regulation; in Europe, data protection lawyers helped clients stay on the right side of the line. Things have changed: corporate clients now typically demand holistic advice that relates to how they gather, use, exploit and dispose of data – personal or not – when figuring out how to launch innovative new products, services and business models. They also respond to complaints, investigations and litigation when things go wrong, and try their best to make sure things don’t go wrong in the first place.

Broadly speaking, these are the issues we believe occupy a data lawyer in 2018 – even if within that they may have their own specialisms or focus on mainly advisory work or litigation. And with GDR launching, we wanted to profile the new generation of individuals advising in this emerging area of practice.

We contacted hundreds of law firms, asking them to present their best and brightest, alongside information about their case work and recommendations for three lawyers outside their firm who they reckoned made the cut. We eventually reached a final 40, and asked each lawyer to answer questions about their practice, their background, local trends, and what they do with their spare time – we are, after all, interested in profiling people, not just their careers.

We are proud to present the final list. It is interesting to witness the diversity of work and career background that has led these people to where they are today: many are privacy specialists with a strong advisory practice, but others specialise in cybersecurity and cyber fraud litigation, or intellectual property and IT, or are more broadly technology lawyers who have over time increasingly been tasked with dealing with companies’ use of data as an asset.

We asked them all what they believe data lawyers will be working on in 10 years’ time. There were plenty of answers, but from the dozens of responses we collected, recurring themes emerged: AI and big data, and the rise of the internet of things.

So, do we know what a data lawyer is, in summer 2018? It’s becoming clearer. But ask us again in a decade, and you may get a very different answer.