What law schools need to do to prepare data privacy lawyers

With the rising demand for data privacy lawyers, law schools need to build tailored courses and prepare their students.

Updated - April 18, 2024 12:22 pm IST

Published - April 13, 2024 04:57 pm IST

Professionals require both legal and technical skills to comply with the data protection laws.

Professionals require both legal and technical skills to comply with the data protection laws. | Photo Credit: Freepik

As Digital India becomes a reality, our personal data are being processed every second for various uses by businesses and governments. Consequently, there are many efforts around regulating technology and its use. Thanks to the intensive use of personal data, India passed the Digital Personal Data Protection Act, 2023 (DPDPA). With the formalisation of rules under the data protection laws, businesses in India have already started analysing their internal personal data protection processes and privacy frameworks. This has led to a rising demand for data privacy lawyers for efficient regulation, compliance, and litigation in this field, which will further help build interpretation of the law and maintain its essence.

With the hope that regulations will bring more clarity to the vagueness of the law, businesses are currently working on understanding their own databases and preparing to adopt efficient data management practices. There is a growing requirement for professionals with both legal and technical skills to comply with the data protection laws. Businesses will also be required to fulfill very specific requirements under the new law, and this will require all-embracing privacy lawyers. The combination of legal and tech skills will allow lawyers to venture into new fields of work. To create privacy leaders of tomorrow, law schools need to build tailored courses and prepare their students. This can be done through the following means:

Interdisciplinary learning: Satisfying the real goals of data privacy will require knowledge of multiple fields to be able to creatively solve new-age problems. In addition to programming languages, the courses should provide a basic understanding of technological developments. It is also very important to discuss the basics of ethics and responsible technology for a broader understanding.

Academia-industry interface: Bridging the gap between theory and practice is essential now, especially considering the evolving role of lawyers as business leaders. Law schools must build advisory boards that include industry professionals to help design appropriate courses. At least 25% of the lectures should be delivered by industry professionals, to achieve the goal of academia-industry interface.

Hands-on practical training: Law schools should organizs sessions and guests lectures with industry professionals so that students get a first-hand idea of the practical challenges in implementing data privacy. Similarly, workshops with activities such as preparing internal manuals to implement privacy policies will amplify the learning experience. Students must also be encouraged to pursue alternative learning options to boost their interdisciplinary knowledge and participate in conferences, seminars and events to enhance their knowledge and exposure.

Long-term internships: Having students can work under DPOs, CISOs, and privacy teams for around 3-4 months will add immense value to their knowledge and give them an opportunity to implement their understanding of technology laws and data privacy.

Lastly, legal innovations must be encouraged and programmes around data privacy and data rights awareness should also be included. We are only at the beginning of the long road to personal data protection, and it is the responsibility of law schools to prepare lawyers who will be the guardians of personal data and privacy in India.

Avinash Dadhich is the Director of Manipal Law School, and Yashu Bansal is Assistant Professor at Manipal Law School, MAHE Bengaluru

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