Often, when asked what I do, the person is totally flummoxed when I respond that I am a privacy attorney. Sometimes, they will even ask – what does that mean? Well, if I said I was a contract attorney or a patent attorney, they would understand, right? It means I handle contracts or patents – or specifically in my case, I handle privacy.
Ah – that’s the problem, they don’t understand privacy. I mean, seriously, how do I find enough work to fill 40 hours a week?
Privacy is the concept that information about ourselves is only shared to individuals/companies whom we want to know those things about us.
Simple, right? Not so much.
So why would anyone want to work in privacy? All day long, every day, the whole year, for decades, we fight a battle that few people ever see. It’s like starring in a vampire drama – there’s a fight happening in a world that most people don’t see and would not believe. And like vampires, we typically work in the dark, our emergencies happen at night, and we live off a critical element that is very personal to people….data. And to most of our colleagues, we’re the boogie men who come to steal your profits while you’re sleeping (or when you’re bad).
So why work in privacy?
My top five reasons:
- I’m such a geek rebel that I C# and bleed java. I am building a complete Padme parade dress costume for ComicCon. My UAV isn’t even registered. I speak in movie quotes. And Sheldon is my hero. Bazinga!
- Unlike most corporate attorneys, I may work for the company, but my job is to protect the little guy. I always did go for the underdog – I liked Tom Wopat not John Schneider and I preferred Larry Wilcox to Eric Estrada. I may look like a heartless corporate attorney, but really…I’m all squishy inside.
- The field is growing by leaps and bounds. Everywhere you turn, there is data being collected, used, shared, abused, lost, forgotten, manipulated, and more! Technology is getting smaller, stronger, and can hold more data.
- The privacy field is a gender neutral one. Perhaps because of the way it grew up, women tend to have equal pay and leadership roles.
- My ADD (Attention Deficit Disorder) has free reign! I am never bored; I can work on 46.3 projects at a time; and given how fast the field changes – if I don’t like something, it is likely to be different tomorrow.
Being a privacy professional is a calling for certain people and requires flexibility, rampant curiosity, thick skin, and a relentless gift for persuasion. If you don’t love it – don’t get in it. It is not a profession for those seeking glory or an easy desk job.