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ALUMNI SPOTLIGHT: Rene Mendizabal

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You started your career in Venezuela in litigation and worked in dispute resolution when you arrived in Canada. What lead you to become interested in Privacy and Cybersecurity? 

After a few years practicing in litigation, I started to seek solutions within the realm of dispute resolution. Through my exploration of dispute resolution, I developed an interest in the impact that technology has on the ways people communicate and negotiate. I became interested in the potential of conducting mediations through videoconferencing tools and began working with an eCommerce platform that used online dispute resolution to resolve conflicts between buyers and sellers.

Working for an eCommerce organization with operations in multiple jurisdictions allowed me to offer my skills as a lawyer with dual training; and as such privacy compliance became part of my job description. Now, I work as a Privacy Research Lawyer.

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What has your experience in the Privacy and Cybersecurity program been like so far? 

I was drawn to the LLM in Privacy and Cybersecurity law because I wanted to gain a deeper understanding of the discipline and the industry. Although I work on issues related to privacy law on a daily basis, having the opportunity to think about them in a different context, through writing papers and class discussions is very appealing.

Although I am only in the second term of the program, it’s already impacted my work. I’ve developed the ability to have more informed conversations with my colleagues without legal backgrounds, such as software developers and cybersecurity professionals. Privacy and cybersecurity are global issues, and having the context of both a civil law and common law perspective has allowed me to advise stakeholders who need to develop compliance strategies globally.

You’re also a graduate of the LLM in Canadian Common Law. What did you find most valuable about the Canadian Common Law program? Was there anything that exceeded your expectations? 

Privacy law is a global discipline. In theory, you would expect that a program in Canadian Common Law will help you understand all the forms in which the Common Law and the Civil law are different, and it’s true. Nonetheless, the most useful takeaway for me was to understand why both systems can be so similar. Having an education in both is critical to convey those similarities to privacy professionals that need to develop compliance strategies globally.

What advice would you give to internationally trained lawyers with considerable professional experience who is considering coming to Osgoode to study?

    1. Keep in mind that Common Law is based on precedent. I can’t emphasize this notion enough. An excellent way to understand the culture surrounding the Common Law, and it’s logic, is to read a book called: ” The Snail and the Ginger Beer: The Singular Case of Donoghue v. Stevenson” by Matthew Chapman.
    2. Allow yourself to spend a generous amount of time in the law library. Talk to the Liberians.
    3. You may need to reinvent yourself professionally if so, accept it as a blessing, and don’t be afraid to create your opportunities. In a free-market society, you decide your destiny.

Rene Mendizabal is a student in the inaugural cohort of the LLM in Privacy and Cybersecurity Law. He works as a privacy research lawyer for a privacy compliance software company.

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