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Lawyers are trained in reading, understanding, interpreting and advising on laws and legal compliance programs, and defending their clients from litigants and regulators. Privacy laws, everywhere in the world, are vague, so they leave much room for legal interpretations. The lawyers’ skill set is becoming more and more central to the role of privacy leadership. Moreover, lawyers benefit from attorney-client privileged communications internally, which is becoming an absolutely essential mechanism for privacy lawyers to have deep, unfettered, unfiltered exchanges of information and advice with their clients.

Of course, non-legal disciplines will always play an essential role in safeguarding privacy at companies, e.g., the vital role played by security engineers. Privacy will always be a cross-disciplinary project. I’m not saying that the rise of the lawyer-privacy-leader is necessarily the best thing for “privacy”. Yet in the face of rampant litigation, discovery orders, vague laws, political debates, regulatory actions, threats of billion dollar fines, companies will be looking to their privacy lawyers for a lot more than drafting a privacy policy. It’s a great profession, if you like stretch goals.

* Peter Fleischer, “Stretch Goals for Privacy Lawyers