Lisa R Lifshitz enjoys a stellar reputation in the market, with profound expertise in counselling domestic and international clients in relation to privacy and information management.
Lisa is a partner in the business law group and leader of the firm’s technology, privacy and data management group, specialising in IT and privacy/cybersecurity law. She is highly ranked in computer & IT law and technology transactions in the Lexpert®/American Lawyer Guide to the Leading 500 Lawyers in Canada, The Canadian Legal Lexpert® Directory; recognised by The Best Lawyers in Canada for IT law, privacy and data security law, and technology law; Chambers Canada/Chambers Global; and Who’s Who Legal as a Global Elite Thought Leader. She is chair of the Robotics and AI Subcommittee, Cyberspace Committee, ABA Business Law Section. She is a prolific writer and speaker and authors a monthly column for Canadian Lawyer.
What inspired you to pursue a career in data law?
I have always been fascinated by the intersection of technology, cybersecurity and the paradox of data use. There is a constant tug of war between those who want to push the boundaries to commercialise data versus those who seek to protect it and tightly control its use and the law often plays catch-up. Even as the harvesting of big data conjures up Orwellian miseries, there is much good to be had from such use of data, in medical AI, for example. I enjoy the contradictions.
How has the work of data lawyers changed since you began practising?
Technological developments, including the rise of IoT/ “smart devices”, cloud computing, social media and AI have definitely increased public concerns. Privacy law used to be considered academic/esoteric and was an after-thought in the minds of many lawyers and clients. Spearheaded by increasing enforcement efforts in Europe and other jurisdictions, privacy/data concerns now permeate and at times dominate many areas of law, from corporate commercial to litigation. Privacy, data and security issues are now frequently part of many transactions and I personally enjoy negotiating (and arguing) over these clauses. We have become much more mainstream.
How do you anticipate the Canadian legal market changing in the next five years? How might this affect your practice?
As the Canadian (especially the Toronto) tech/AI scene is burgeoning, I think the demand for data /privacy lawyers will only grow, particularly since our federal government has finally undertaken its long overdue review and amendment of our federal privacy laws. Given that the draft legislation anticipates granting significant new powers to our federal regulator and will create a tribunal that can levy significant fines I expect to be even busier! I am also excited to see the adoption of new privacy torts and additional provincial privacy initiatives. The possibility of having a new Ontario private sector privacy law will also open up new regulatory and compliance opportunities.
What are the most exciting new developments in data law and technology?
I am obsessed with anything to do with the Cloud (and recently spearheaded the publication of “Cloud 3.0” by the American Bar Association) as this technology is now commonplace. It is “early days” for the actual adoption of AI/machine learning systems, but this area is poised to explode along with the related legal issues. Ethical concerns/bias continues to be a problem for AI systems as we are seeing evidence of these issues even at the initial stages.
How has covid-19 changed your practice and your clients’ data programmes?
Oddly enough, my practice is busier than ever. Despite criticism from some quarters, “big tech” definitely helped save productivity during this pandemic. There is heightened recognition of our vulnerabilities, particularly in the ongoing need to protect vulnerable data. The frequency of ransomware attacks has increased with owners increasingly willing to pay to retrieve their critical data. Smart organisations are also investing more in employee training and are shoring up their processes and controls to protect data. Finally, more attention is also being paid to the human element of data protection, given the preponderance of spearfishing and trolling activities. Everyone should also be dusting off their incident response plans because it is often not a question of whether a breach will occur but when, so it is critical to be prepared.
What makes Torkin Manes stand out from its competitors in the market?
As the past winner of the No. 1 regional law firm in Canada, our lawyers are continually ranked as some of the best in the country but at the same time we pride ourselves on being practical, nimble, cost-effective and providing exemplary client service.
You have enjoyed a distinguished career so far. What would you like to achieve that you have not yet accomplished?
The fun thing about this practice is that it is constantly evolving, and I am enjoying evolving with it so it’s hard to predict where the future will lie. All I can say is that I am honoured (and thrilled) to be once again be recognised by WWL as a leader in this field.
Lisa Lifshitz is a go-to for US companies seeking advice on Canadian data protection regulations and is highly sought-after for her adept handling of data breaches and cloud issues.
Lisa R. Lifshitz is a partner in Torkin Manes’ Business Law Group, specializing in the areas of information technology, privacy and business law and is the leader of the firm’s Technology, Privacy & Data Management Group. Lisa has particular expertise in preparing and negotiating technology agreements, especially cloud-related agreements. She provides technology-related advice on financings and acquisitions. She also provides guidance on IoT, AI/smart contracts, blockchain and open source legal matters. Lisa has considerable experience helping non-Canadian companies, especially American entities, create appropriate legal agreements for their entry into the Canadian marketplace.
Lisa also practises in the area of privacy, cybersecurity and information management, advising Canadian and international clients on compliance with Canadian privacy requirements. She routinely advises clients on trans-border data transfers, breach management and provides privacy and cybersecurity guidance in corporate transactions and negotiations.
Lisa is highly ranked in computer and IT law and technology transactions in the Lexpert®/American Lawyer Guide to the Leading 500 Lawyers in Canada, The Canadian Legal Lexpert® Directory, she is recognised by The Best Lawyers in Canada for IT law, privacy and data security law, and technology law, Chambers Canada and Chambers Global; and Who’s Who Legal as a Global Elite Thought Leader. She is chair of the Robotics and AI Subcommittee, Cyberspace Committee, ABA Business Law Section.
Lisa is a prolific writer and speaker. She authors a monthly column for Canadian Lawyer and is also the co-editor and a contributor to Cloud 3.0: Drafting and Negotiating Cloud Computing Agreements, published in May 2019 by the American Bar Association.
Lisa is a partner in Torkin Manes’ business law group and the leader of the firm’s technology; privacy and data management; and emerging technology groups.
Lisa has particular expertise in preparing and negotiating technology agreements including cloud and managed services; mobile payment; system acquisition; and master services agreements. She also provides guidance on IoT, AI/smart contracts, blockchain and open-source legal agreements.
Lisa also practises in the areas of privacy, data security and cybersecurity. She routinely advises clients on trans-border data transfers; data/security breach management; and privacy compliance in transactions. She also advises on Canadian anti-spam compliance.
Lisa is the co-chair of the robotics and AI subcommittee of the cyberspace committee of the business law section of the American Bar Association. She is a past president of the Canadian Technology Law Association.
Lisa has been frequently recognised in Canada and internationally for her expertise in technology/privacy/data/security law, including by Best Lawyers in Canada, Chambers Canada, Chambers Global and the Canadian Legal Lexpert Directory. In 2019 she was named by WWL as a thought leader in data; a global leader in data privacy and protection/data security/IT; and a national leader for Canada in data.
Lisa is a sought-after speaker and writes extensively on technology and privacy law. She authors the monthly “IT Girl” column for Canadian Lawyer magazine and was the co-editor and a contributor to Cloud 3.0: Drafting and Negotiating Cloud Computing Agreements, published in May 2019 by the ABA.
Lisa is a director of the Canadian Technology Law Association and of Crossroads International, a leading Canadian volunteer agency advancing equality for women and girls and eradicating poverty in Africa and South America.