Developing a First-in-Class Privacy Practice and a Rewarding Career at Axiom
By Axiom Law
“Joining Axiom transformed my life. I built my career as an in-house lawyer for 30 years, and was looking for flexibility and opportunities to pursue aspects of my career that were outside of law. Axiom was the vehicle to make that all happen.” Axiom lawyer Andrew has extensive experience in anti-trust, intellectual property, and privacy law. From 2002 to 2004 he served as Chief Privacy Officer for a global software company, and he joined Axiom in 2007.
While he was working in-house, Andrew had the desire to teach and was interested in taking on independent clients, but was unable to do so due to the structure and obligations of his job. As an Axiom lawyer he has been able to “break free and make a lucrative and satisfying career.”
Andrew has since taught at several NYC-based law schools and internationally in Germany. He has worked on long-term engagements for Axiom clients, including with a large insurance company for five years and an international bank for four. Axiom engagements provide Andrew with security, and the flexibility of our employment model enables him to accomplish goals that both are personally fulfilling and enable him to create a well-rounded career. Andrew explains, “Axiom establishes my value to prospective clients as more than just a cut-and-dried contracts lawyer. I am also an academic with broad experience from multiple clients.”
Commercial experience as a differentiator
At Axiom, Andrew has found that his 30 years of commercial experience enable him to be especially valuable to Axiom’s clients. He explains, “Clients want first-class legal support, but they also want commercial experience in a discipline. You don’t get that kind of focus from a lawyer who’s worked solely in a firm, because law firms and their lawyers can practice law that is devoid of business-oriented results. Having practiced over a broad range of clients and industries, it’s better to give clients legal advice peppered with commercial experience. That’s why Axiom provides such a valuable resource–ultimately, I’ve seen it before; I’ve lived it.”
Andrew’s extensive experience means that he’s able to advise clients on possible solutions to a challenge they face and lay out the risks and benefits of each solution. Lawyers with experience like Andrew’s are invaluable because they can quickly integrate with in-house teams. Andrew remarks, “That’s what the best Axiom lawyers do. We deliver a high level of service from day one, and are able to parachute in and immediately add value to our clients.”
An early adopter of privacy practice
As an undergraduate at Dickinson, Andrew studied classics, including Latin and Greek. He was drawn to the idea of becoming a professor, but noted, “In academia, it’s publish or perish and I didn’t see myself locked in a college office on a secluded campus. The law enabled me to pursue business aspirations.”
Andrew attended New York Law School and, shortly thereafter, established himself as an intellectual property lawyer with a specific focus in software. He also developed a strong focus on privacy and antitrust law. Andrew was an early adopter of privacy and remarked, “A lawyer with a focus on privacy law was an outlier 15 years ago. It was not a central career focus for many lawyers then but is becoming a primary focus for many lawyers now.”
Navigating fast and furious shifts in privacy legislation
New privacy regulations are quickly changing the business and legal landscape. Companies rely on lawyers like Andrew to help them understand the regulations and implement plans for compliance. “The regulatory regimes that are arising are unpredictable and don’t follow a predictable or rational path because companies are trying to comply with both international, national, and state privacy regulations. The policy shifts are coming fast and furious, and companies and lawyers must do their best to remain current and knowledgeable,” explains Andrew.
Staying responsive to these changing regulations is also a challenge because there is no convergence between legal systems, such as between the United States and European Union, on how to treat privacy issues. The interpretation and enforcement of regulations also shift depending on different government administrations. “What we once thought was settled is being reconsidered at the highest level,” said Andrew.
The need to operationalize privacy
“Privacy will be incremental,” Andrew remarked, pointing to the reality of privacy legislation and compliance. To navigate this fractured environment “privacy professionals are looking for unifying principles that are statutorily imposed so we are not constantly doing fire drills.” While a big picture solution for privacy, such as national legislation in the United States, may be far off, Andrew encourages companies to embrace “privacy by design” in their products and business operations.
He advises that companies focus on “building systems from their inception with a thought to privacy structure,” though he acknowledges that this may not always be possible.
Because privacy is growing in importance for all types of businesses, Andrew also encourages lawyers to utilize privacy resources like the International Association of Privacy Professionals to stay on top of changing regulations and to learn from their peers. “You can’t—and shouldn’t—avoid privacy as a lawyer now,” he remarks.
Control over his career
Working for Axiom has enabled Andrew to bring his extensive experience in privacy and antitrust law to multiple clients, as well as pursue his interest in teaching.
“I would have never imagined that being a lawyer and being an academic would dovetail so well, but both have enriched my living experience and career experience,” explains Andrew.
At Axiom, Andrew feels there’s an inherent respect for lawyers’ interests outside of their work. For Andrew that creates tremendous value for all parties. Axiom offers experienced lawyers like Andrew a unique opportunity to build their own brand and “to have control over your career in such a way that is unheard of in law as it’s conventionally practiced. In a traditional environment, only as a senior partner would you be able to take that status. Who would have thought that Axiom would have made that happen for me?”
Working for Axiom also enables Andrew to learn constantly, as well as to grow his professional network, which is essential when navigating a changing field like privacy. “It's fresh, learning new things, in new industries, with new people, and forging new relationships which are personally edifying to me—it’s the relationships that you form that endure.”
To help your company navigate changing privacy regulations and work with experienced privacy attorneys like Andrew, or to join Andrew as a colleague and do rewarding legal work that integrates with your life, get in touch with us at Axiom.
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