The Need for a Privacy Profession Pathway: An Open Call for Privacy Law Fellowships

Daniel Solove
Founder of TeachPrivacy

Privacy Profession Pathway

The privacy law profession is growing tremendously, but there is a challenge that we’re facing, one that I’d like to enlist your help in addressing – the bottleneck problem.  There is a huge bottleneck at the entry point to the field.  So I am calling on organizations to address this bottleneck by offering fellowships to recent law school graduates interested in privacy law.

Each year, I teach about 60-70 privacy law students, and there are many other professors teaching similar courses with large enrollments.  Many great students want to enter the field, but they find it very hard to do so because nearly every position requires a number of years of experience.

Bottleneck Problem

Unlike other field with a more developed entry point, privacy lacks an easy way in.  People have to do all sorts of career gymnastics to lateral sideways or slip in from other areas.  A while ago, I solicited advice on entering the profession and provided advice of my own, and I posted about it in my post, How to Enter the Privacy Profession.

On the other side, many organizations are seeking to fill privacy law positions but are having a hard time finding enough people with experience.

A Call to Create Privacy Law Fellowships

The privacy profession must address the bottleneck problem and develop a reliable pathway to the profession.

I am therefore calling on companies and organizations to create privacy law fellowships that would last 1-2 years.   If you create one, I will list it in my list of privacy law fellowships. Right now, the list is short, and most of the opportunities are in NGOs and the government, with a handful from the private sector.  I’d like to triple or quadruple this list . . . and hopefully make it even longer than that.

So if you’re on the privacy team at an organization, please look into creating a fellowship position.  If you’re a privacy law professor, please join in my call.  A mature profession needs an entry point and a reliable pathway.  It’s time to make that happen for privacy law.

If you create a fellowship in privacy law, I will help publicize it to my law school and to law professors who teach privacy law at other schools.  I will publicize it on LinkedIn, Twitter, and other venues.  I will try my best to generate a lot of publicity for it.

Why Should You Create a Privacy Law Fellowship? 

Privacy Lawyer(1) You’ll get great publicity.  I will my hardest to make your fellowship widely known.  I’ll heap praise on you, your team, and your organization for doing a good service to the privacy community.

(2) You will receive excellent applications and be able to hire superb students eager to start out in the field.  There are law graduates who have taken privacy law classes from some great teachers, such as Professors Paul Schwartz (Berkeley), Danielle Citron (Maryland), Neil Richards (Washington University), Lior Strahilevitz (University of Chicago), Paul Ohm (Georgetown), and many others.  You’ll thus receive some well-trained students who already have an understanding of privacy law.

(3) Your privacy team is very busy and can use some extra help . . . unless things are very slow and your team is sitting around with nothing to do.  : )

(4) Fellows bring great energy and enthusiasm.  They are eager to impress because this is the first big step of their privacy career.

(5) It’s affordable.  Fellowships pay modestly, so you get top notch assistance at bargain rates.

(6) Some law schools offer funding for fellowships for their students.  GW Law, for example, will fund students up to 4 months in a fellowship in either the public or private sector.  GW also will match a fellowship for a year — if you hire and pay a student for a year, GW will fund another student for a year.  Other schools might have similar funding arrangements.  So even if you have budget challenges, there might still be a way to make things work.

(7) It’s the right thing to do!  You’ll help the profession and help people launch their careers.

Will You Join the Program?        

Doing so is easy:

(1) Create a privacy law fellowship.

(2) Inform me of the details.

(3) I will put your organization’s logo and the details of your fellowship opportunity on my site.

(4) I will publicize your fellowship.

(5) Each year, if let me know your new hiring deadline, I will update the details of your fellowship opportunity and publicize.

(6) If you’re interested in learning about getting a funded student, please  let me know.

So please join me.  Let’s help fix the bottleneck problem and create a real entry point to our profession.  Thank you for your consideration of this idea.  I hope that I’ll be able to start building a long list of opportunities.

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This post was authored by Professor Daniel J. Solove, who through TeachPrivacy develops computer-based privacy training, data security training, HIPAA training, and many other forms of awareness training on privacy and security topics.  This post was originally posted on his blog at LinkedIn, where Solove is a “LinkedIn Influencer.” His blog has more than 970,000 followers.

Privacy+Security ForumProfessor Solove is the organizer, along with Paul Schwartz of the Privacy + Security Forum (Oct. 24-26, 2016 in Washington, DC), an annual event that aims to bridge the silos between privacy and security. 

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