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ACC Conference Recap: Privacy Laws Igniting a Sea Change for In-House Attorneys

Created on November 1, 2019

Director of Marketing at Exterro

The Association of Corporate Counsel (ACC) has over 40,000 in-house attorney members, meaning the ACC Annual Conference boasts the largest gathering of in-house attorneys every year. The people who attend this conference are the drivers of the legal market. they are the client. They set the market for what legal services and technology will be leveraged by legal service providers (law firms, consultants, service providers).

For an industry that is slow to change, that characteristic was hard to find here at the ACC Conference this year. Most the sessions I attended involved a discussion about rapid industry changes and how they would navigate these changes. The driver of this rapid change: the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA).

The CCPA goes into effect Jan. 1, 2020 and trust me: In-house attorneys are aware and seeking answers on how to comply. This focus on the CCPA brought my attention not just to the compliance issues around the CCPA, but another big question: What does this mean for the legal community?

Based on the urgency around the ccpa, There are some unique focuses on how to manage data. 

- Where is it located?
- What data is being saved?
- How to collect it?
- How to process and review it?
- How to modify it? (redact, delete, etc.)

These are all questions that in-house counsel want answers to, not only to ensure compliance but to showcase to the executive board how legal departments can help the company reduce costs when it comes to litigation, compliance, and risk.

The savvy and more mature people I talked to could see similar signs for change. How can legal departments manage data more effectively? The backbone of all legal matters centers around data. Data is what’s being regulated and disputed. Almost every departments under the Legal umbrella—whether you work in compliance, litigation, internal investigations, etc.—is essentially trying to execute the same objective: fulfilling data requests for corporate information. How do I find, collect, review and then take some action with the requested data?

Legal leaders are looking for people, process and technology to manage data across their organizations and within the in-house legal department holistically. Based on the culture sea change in how the public wants their personal data used by businesses, a comprehensive approach is needed—and it’s what in-house legal leadership must find the answer to in 2020.