PRIVACY LAW ENTRY-LEVEL AND JUNIOR
Privacy law is a wonderful career with abundant opportunities. The field is growing tremendously. ut starting out can be challenging. Here is some information about where to look to start a career in privacy law – organizations with entry-level and junior job opportunities in the field.
If you’re interested, please note that I also maintain the following relevant pages:
- How to Enter the Privacy Profession
- Privacy Law Internships for Law Students
- Privacy Law Fellowships for Recent Law School Graduates
The following organizations often have entry-level job opportunities or fellowships. These places can be a great way to start your career.
Big Law Firms
Many law firms now have privacy law practice groups. These practice groups advise companies on complying with various privacy laws around the world. Some of the groups handle regulatory investigations such as FTC or HHS investigations. Some groups handle data breach response. Although many practices are primarily about offering compliance advice, there are practice groups that are involved in data breach litigation as well as TCPA litigation. A few firms handle a significant amount of work involving ECPA.
There are several sites that rank law firms in the field. I find such rankings somewhat dubious, but these lists are a good way to identify many of the law firms with practices in the field.
US News — of course, US News must rank everything in the universe
Large Big Law Firms with Privacy, Cybersecurity, and Technology Law Practice Groups
Boutique Law Firms Specializing in Privacy Law
There are several smaller boutique firms that focus heavily or exclusively on privacy and cybersecurity.
Located in Seattle, Hintze Law PLLC is a Chambers top ranked fast-growing boutique privacy law firm. Hintze Law provides global data protection counseling for technology, health, life sciences, fintech, ecommerce, advertising, media, and mobile companies, organizations, and industry associations.
InfoLawGroup is a national boutique law firm with a laser focus on the intersection of privacy and data security, advertising and marketing, and technology.
ZwillGen, a boutique firm focusing on privacy law and ECPA work, has an annual program where it hires fellows who work for a year. Fellows have gone on to great positions afterwards, making this position a terrific stepping stone. Several former students of mine have been ZwillGen fellows.
The consulting and auditing firms are willing to hire entry-level and relatively junior attorneys. The junior-level work consists of doing audits, risk assessments, or other similar projects. This can be a good way to learn about the issues and risks that big companies are facing.
Aleada Consulting is women and minority owned privacy and information security consulting firm in Silicon Valley.Booz Allen Hamilton works in consulting, analytics, digital solutions, engineering, and cyber. It works with industries ranging from defense to health to energy to international development. Click here for related job opportunities.
Deloitte provides audit and assurance, consulting, risk and financial advisory, risk management, tax, and related services to clients. In the U.S., Deloitte LLP provides these services to many of the world’s most admired brands, including more than 85 percent of the Fortune 500 and more than 6,000 private and middle market companies. Click here for related job and internship opportunities.
KPMG is a professional service company with three categories of services: financial audit, tax, and advisory. In an advisory capacity, KPMG works with clients on a range of cybersecurity services, including privacy, data governance, and cyber defense and response. The company offers internships and jobs in the field.
PwC’s Cybersecurity and Privacy practice helps organizations protect against threats, propel transformation, and pursue growth. The practice has a long history of helping organizations strategically assess, design, deploy, and improve cybersecurity programs. Click here for related job opportunities.
Non-Profit, NGOs, and Advocacy Organizations
The ACLU has a number of career opportunities. They focus on a wide array of issues, including a number of privacy issues such as anonymous speech and protection from government surveillance.
CDT is a non-profit that describes itself as follows: “[W]e work to preserve the user-controlled nature of the internet and champion freedom of expression. We support laws, corporate policies, and technology tools that protect the privacy of internet users, and advocate for stronger legal controls on government surveillance.” CDT tends to take moderate balanced positions on privacy issues, especially consumer privacy issues. Its positions on government surveillance are more strongly on the libertarian side. From time to time, job positions open up.
EFF describes itself as follows: “The Electronic Frontier Foundation is the leading nonprofit organization defending civil liberties in the digital world.” EFF is located in San Francisco, CA. EFF does advocacy work that includes litigating cases. I am on their advisory board.
FPF describes itself as follows: “The Future of Privacy Forum is a nonprofit organization that serves as a catalyst for privacy leadership and scholarship, advancing principled data practices in support of emerging technologies.” FPF has the Elise Berkower Memorial Fellowship and Christopher Wolf Diversity Law Fellowship for recent grads. FPF is a great career launching pad for privacy because they are very well connected to companies in many industries and are dealing with many cutting-edge issues.
The Open Technology Institute is the technology program of the New America Foundation. OTI formulates policy and regulatory reforms to support open architectures and open-source innovations and facilitates the development and implementation of open technologies and communications networks. OTI has several fellowships related to privacy and cybersecurity.
Public Citizen is a non-profit that describes itself as follows: “Public Citizen is a nonprofit consumer advocacy organization that champions the public interest – your interests – in the halls of power. Since our founding in 1971, we have defended democracy, resisted corporate power and worked to ensure that government works for the people – not for big corporations.” Their platform isn’t primarily focused on privacy. Public Citizen handles a wide array of issues affecting democracy, and some of these involve law and technology with privacy implications.
Public Knowledge is a non-profit that describes itself as follows: “Public Knowledge promotes freedom of expression, an open internet, and access to affordable communications tools and creative works. We work to shape policy on behalf of the public interest.” Public Knowledge focuses on a handful of issues, many relating to free speech. Some issues involve privacy, especially their work on broadband privacy.
There are a number of associations that promulgate and enforce self-regulatory codes.
NAI describes itself as follows: “NAI is a non-profit organization that is the leading self-regulatory association dedicated to responsible data collection and its use for digital advertising.” NAI has hired many GW Law students as interns, and it has hired quite a number of my students for permanent positions. Students who have worked or interned there have reported a very positive experience.
Private-Sector Companies: In-House
Many private sector companies are reluctant to hire entry-level or very junior attorneys for in-house positions. But there are a few companies that do. So it is useful to look at companies but be prepared for a significant amount of rejection as many tend to want to hire more experienced lawyers. The following companies have large privacy teams and often have privacy law job opportunities.
The Berkman Klein Center at Harvard offers fellowships for grads. A few former students have done fellowships here and have found the experience to be quite worthwhile.
Industry and Professional Associations
Many industries and professions have associations. Some associations are increasingly dealing with privacy issues and might be interested in hiring an attorney to assist and advise on such issues.
The Computer and Communications Industry Association (CCIA) is an international not-for-profit membership organization dedicated to innovation and enhancing society’s access to information and communications. CCIA promotes open markets, open systems, open networks and full, fair and open competition in the computer, telecommunications and Internet industries. It offers legal internship and job opportunities related to privacy, security, and telecommunications.
Each year, IAPP hires Westin Fellows to work at the IAPP’s headquarters in New Hampshire. Several students have done this fellowship, and they have launched into great job opportunities thereafter. This fellowship is thus a great stepping stone.
Government Agencies and Departments
There are many government agencies at the federal and state levels that are dealing with privacy and cybersecurity issues. Broadly, there are two types of privacy/security lawyers who work at these agencies: (1) outward-facing regulators – focus on enforcement of laws and regulations; (2) inward-facing agency compliance officials – focus on doing work internally to make sure that agencies themselves are complying with privacy and security law.
Government agencies and departments will hire entry-level attorneys. Find government job listings at the USA Jobs website.
The CFPB regulates banks and financial institutions. It enforces the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA). The CFPB has a 2-year position for recent law grads in its honors program.
The DOJ Office of Information Policy is responsible for developing government-wide policy guidance on all aspects of FOIA administration. The OIP also provides legal counsel and training to agency personnel, and manages agency compliance with FOIA. The OIP hires attorneys to serve as attorney-advisors, who adjudicate appeals under the FOIA or Privacy Act of 1974, provide individualized guidance to agencies on questions relating to the application of the FOIA, and handle the defense of certain FOIA matters in litigation.
The FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection (BCP) stops unfair, deceptive and fraudulent business practices, including inadequate privacy and data security policies or practices. The BCP collects complaints, conducts investigations, files suits, and develops rules to maintain a fair marketplace. The Bureau offers both a Summer Law Clerk Program and entry-level careers.
There are other career opportunities at the FTC related to privacy. FTC Commissioners have attorney advisors. Other divisions beyond the BCP are involved in deceptive advertising and matters related to privacy.
HHS has some attorney positions, some of which may involve HIPAA and privacy and cybersecurity issues.
The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) is a physical sciences laboratory, and a non-regulatory agency of the United States Department of Commerce. From the smart electric power grid and electronic health records to atomic clocks, advanced nanomaterials, and computer chips, innumerable products and services rely in some way on technology, measurement, and standards provided by the agency. NIST offers a variety of internships and jobs.
NTIA is the Executive Branch agency that is principally responsible for advising the President on telecommunications and information policy issues. For job listings at the agency, check USAjobs.gov.
The New Jersey State Attorney General Honors Program offers recent law school graduates and newly admitted lawyers the opportunity to begin their legal careers in public service. The two-year program allows participants to work in one of six issue areas: civil rights; consumer financial protection; data privacy & cybersecurity; environment; gun safety & gun violence; and public integrity. Click here to apply.