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Starting a Career in Data Privacy

Posted by: Laurence Simons 07/06/17

The GDPR is being put in place to address the growing rise in cyber-attacks and networked data theft. The GDPR provides a framework for businesses to report any suspected data hacks and aims to achieve international consistency around data protection laws and rights down to an individual level. 

While cyber-attacks are increasing, Laurence Simons Managing Consultant in Germany, Nicola Elsner knows that the demand for skilled lawyers will only increase to deal with new regulation and threats. She finds that while a large number of companies have legal staff focusing on data privacy and protection, it will not be the sole part of the job and they will work across other sectors.

Increasing the number of lawyers with data privacy and protection experience starts at the bottom – universities. Nicola says that GDPR related issues are only just starting to be on the radar at German institutions with seminars and LL.M. programs focusing on Data Privacy. German lawyers are trained across a broad range of legal topics and unless they specifically choose a university focusing on Data Privacy, they may have no interaction with the matter at all. 

When talking to candidates about a data privacy role, Nicola finds the typical feedback would be that they feel that it limits them, that they get less exposure to other areas and they want to be seen as more of a generalist. 

Nicola says this is a common misconception but in reality, data privacy is a growing and exciting industry. She has personal experience with a variety of German companies with dedicated teams of data privacy lawyers who do some very innovate and unique work across the entire EMEA region. 

With the new rules and regulations that are coming into the market; businesses and firms will require more expertise. Nicola thinks it’s similar to when compliance started becoming more of a focus ten years ago. 

Lawyers will be needed to help introduce legislation into a company from a legal perspective and also a technical and communications perspective. A challenge, but for someone with the right skills and attitude, an excellent opportunity.

If you’re looking to increase your knowledge in the area, Nicola recommends attending seminars and finding courses at university related to the subject. When choosing a traineeship select a law firm that specializes or a private practice group that focuses and is renowned in that area and actually learn on the job. Nothing beats real experience. 

For those with more time in the profession, Nicola thinks the best way to increase your knowledge and advance your career is to start in a relevant private practice before moving in-house.

While Nicola is based in Germany, she says demand for skilled data privacy and protection lawyers is worldwide. Cyber-attacks can strike anywhere and businesses need lawyers to be there. 

If you would like to know more about the incoming GDPR or discuss any potential roles with Nicola, you can email her at or call her direct +49 1736696199

Tagged In: Employment, Europe, GDPR
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