Find out more about the people behind the matters in this new series of interviews with our solicitors. Say hello to Clive Mackintosh, who recently joined Harper James as a specialist data protection solicitor.
How long have you worked at Harper James?
I joined Harper James in February 2020, after a career spanning three decades in private practice and the public sector. My expertise is in privacy, data protection and cyber-security, particularly in the legal services, insurance and finance, transport, tech, e-commerce and public sectors. I’m one of a handful of investigative lawyers in the UK, and I have led independent investigations into compliance for local authorities as well as internal and external fraud for large organisations. I have had to obtain evidence covertly, navigating privacy, data protection and human rights laws. The Sunday Times called me the Mulder of investigative law – which will only make sense if you recall the X-Files!
What inspired you to practise law in the first place?
I was all set to become a professional cricket player as a teenager, but I didn’t quite make it. After some soul-searching, the sense of intrigue surrounding the law drew me in, so I decided to study law at Manchester Met and was hooked.
Define data protection and privacy law is in a sentence
It’s a complex, technical and evolving area where risks around neglecting compliance in business activity continue to increase.
What’s the best piece of data protection law advice you’d could give a business?
Don’t cut corners when it comes to data protection!
What has been the proudest moment of your career so far?
Gaining recognition for my expertise in the field of data protection and cyber-security is probably my proudest moment. Being an investigative lawyer is a prized skillset and practising continuously for 31 years is something I consider a true professional achievement.
What do you do to unwind?
I watch food programmes, especially Masterchef! I’m also a keen sailor. South-west Scotland is my preferred sailing destination. I once nearly got caught in the drift of a cross-channel ferry, but fortunately lived to tell the tale.
Tell us a prediction for your practice area in 2020.
My prediction for 2020 is that demand for advice around data protection and cybersecurity will outstrip supply. It’s an evolving and fast-growing area and you’ll see more lawyers moving into this space. It’s also worth being extra vigilant about compliance with GDPR, as the Information Commissioners’ Office (ICO) is moving towards active enforcement. The ICO are clearing the backlog caused by the new legislation, and will be handing out fines and sanctions to businesses that commit data breaches. Fines don’t just hit your business’s bottom line: they affect your brand too. We’re also seeing changes to governance around board-level accountability for GDPR compliance. This is something Harper James can help with, so your board can better understand their own personal exposure.