Wendy Mee
  • Partner
  • Blake Cassels & Graydon
Canada
Wendy Mee

Wendy Mee

  • Partner
  • Blake Cassels & Graydon
Canada

What are the major data privacy challenges you and your clients are facing in your role at the moment?

Obviously the GDPR has caused a lot of businesses to re-evaluate their practices over the last year or so; there has been a lot of work bringing organisations into compliance with this legislation, including doing data mapping exercises, getting data protection agreements in place and establishing processes for responding to data subject requests. We are also seeing – and will likely continue to see – a lot of changes in Canada, for example, mandatory breach reporting under PIPEDA [Canada’s federal privacy legislation, the Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act], new guidelines on meaningful consent, the consultation on transborder data flows and proposed amendments to PIPEDA in connection with Canada’s Digital Charter. A big challenge now is understanding the way that new and innovative technologies work so that you can provide effective legal advice – you can’t advise on something unless you know how it works. Getting the technology people to explain how the technology works in a way that lawyers can understand, and getting the lawyers to explain the legal requirements in a way that the technology people can understand is often difficult – it’s almost like they are speaking two different languages!

What are you most proud of in your personal and professional life?

I am proud that I have been able to maintain a work-life balance that I am happy with. I am satisfied with where I am at in my career – I made partner, I’m the privacy officer for the firm, and I am recognised in my field as someone who knows what they are talking about. But at the same time, I am home most nights for dinner with my kids; I help them with their homework and I know who their friends are. That’s what I’m most proud of.

What advice would you give to any privacy practitioners, male or female, at the beginning of their careers?

Don’t let someone else tell you what you should be striving for. I would also say – particularly to young females – don’t assume that you can’t have the work-life balance that you want. I think a lot of younger women and men, when they start a family, assume they aren’t going to be able to make it work; they aren’t going to be able to commit the same amount of time to work as they could before and still be the type of parent that they want to be, so they opt out. A lot of times it can work. You just have to be clear about what your priorities are. If it’s important to you to be able to spend time with your kids when they’re young, maybe you dial back a bit at work. That may mean it takes you 10 years to make partner, rather than seven, but if your objective is to be able to spend time with your family and have a fulfilling career, it seems like a winning compromise.