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Thought Leaders

Thought Leaders

Nicole Beranek Zanon

Nicole Beranek Zanon

de la cruz beranek Attorneys at Law LtdLandis & Gyr-Strasse 1ZugZugSwitzerland6300
Watch interview with Nicole Beranek Zanon

Thought Leader

WWL Ranking: Global Elite Thought Leader

WWL says

Nicole Beranek Zanon is a top name in the Swiss market with “great knowledge” of the area and outstanding experience across a broad range of data-related issues.

Questions & Answers

Nicole Beranek Zanon advises her clients in the fields of Swiss and international data protection, IT security, and information and communications law. Her recent work is especially focused on AI and distributed ledger technologies. Nicole graduated from the University of Fribourg (with a special degree in European law, as well as a bilingual degree in German and French) and is fluent in English, French and Italian. She is a registered notary public of the Canton of Zug. Nicole holds an executive MBA degree from the University of St Gallen.

What inspired you to pursue a legal career?

Even as a child, I was eloquent and it was easy for me to handle quarrels. Playing with language and building logical chains of arguments always fascinated me.

What did you find most challenging about entering the field of data law?

Nothing, as I’m from a generation that has grown up with it.

How has the data market changed since you first started practising?

Data protection has become a respected field since the GDPR. Clients are more conscious that they must design their services and products in compliance with data protection principles, and must respect the privacy of their customers or potential customers. They also learned that they are more vulnerable due to their digitalisation, and must count on being hacked.

How do you expect the new Swiss Federal Act on Data Protection to impact Swiss companies as well as your own practice?

Swiss companies must make plans and gather resources to ensure compliance with the revised Swiss Federal Act on Data Protection. We expect again a rise in the demand for expert knowledge on data protection.

How is the generational shift changing legal practice at your firm? What do younger lawyers do differently?

We are going down the path of digitalisation and our younger lawyers have the perfect skillset for that, as most have an IT background or a high interest in it. Besides this, they are slower in a lot of areas than the experienced lawyers, and we try to give them time to learn.

How do you anticipate the Swiss legal market changing in the next five years? How might this affect your practice?

More legal services will be provided by non-law firms. These services might help us as supporting services, but some will also be in parallel with what we do. So we try not only to digitalise our service delivery, but also to create our own products – such as our highly standardised litigation process tool.

Looking back over your career, what is the most memorable case you have been a part of?

When I worked with Switch, we developed a new strategy on how the existing business could be saved “around” regulation. At that moment it was clear that the regulation would prohibit a registry from operating at the same time a registrar. From the market there came a lot of pushback and we had a couple of legal cases. But in the end we could close them all and the strategy could be implemented.

You have enjoyed a distinguished career so far. What would you like to achieve that you have not yet accomplished?

I would like to be board member on one or two more boards, where my experience and view will be much appreciated.

Thought Leaders - Data 2019

Q&A

WWL Ranking: Thought Leader

Questions & Answers

Nicole graduated in law from the University of Fribourg in 1996 (European law; bilingual degree German and French). She is fluent in English, French and Italian. She is admitted to the Bar and has been a registered notary public since 1998. She holds an executive MBA HSG and is certified as a DPO and CIPP/E. Nicole worked as general counsel of Switch in the area of network, internet and domain names. Nicole is, inter alia, a board member of Swiss Fintech Ladies and a member of ITechLaw, SWICO and Asut.

DESCRIBE YOUR CAREER TO DATE.

I am managing partner of de la cruz beranek Attorneys-at-law Ltd, one of the leading IT boutique law firms in Switzerland, with a strong focus on clients’ needs. I founded the company with Carmen de la Cruz in 2012. Today the law firm focuses on emerging technologies such as AI, blockchain and the Internet of Things, and advises clients in M&A, contract law, data protection law, legal tech and compliance.

Before that I worked for Switch, the national research and education network of Switzerland; and the domain name registry of .ch and .li. I helped to transform the registry to the next level – enabling sustainable growth – and set groundbreaking industry standards, together with colleagues, for the take-down of domain names. During that time, my affinity for technology set in and became my central focus.

I studied law and economics at the Universities of Fribourg and St Gallen. I am a qualified data protection expert and recognised as such in Switzerland.

I have two children, a loving husband, no dog and a house with an enchanted garden, where I love to spend my free time.

WHAT DO CLIENTS LOOK FOR IN AN EFFECTIVE DATA PROTECTION AND IT LAWYER?

To be efficient for our clients, we use legal tech and modern IT infrastructure and are transparent on the templates we use and the hours we bill. We try to scale up our knowledge and share it with our clients.

HOW HAS THE MARKET CHANGED SINCE YOU STARTED YOUR CAREER?

As a former in-house general counsel, I understand the needs of my clients and they remain the same: having an outside sparring partner who supports the client’s legal department and fits seamlessly into their organisation.

WHAT ARE SOME OF THE BIGGEST CHALLENGES FACING DATA LAWYERS TODAY?

Since GDPR, there are many data lawyers on the market with poor experience. Therefore, it is sometimes a challenge to educate the counterparty in negotiations.

HOW ARE CONTINUING CALLS FOR INCREASED DATA PRIVACY AFFECTING YOUR PRACTICE?

We have expanded our staff and are working more on standards and with existing GDPR-compliance tools.

THE CONSULTATIVE COMMITTEE OF THE COUNCIL OF EUROPE RECENTLY PUBLISHED GUIDELINES ON ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE. HOW DO YOU SEE THESE GUIDELINES AFFECTING THE CURRENT APPROACH TO DEVELOPING AI?

The Ethics Guidelines for trustworthy AI will hopefully influence the AI industry. If the AI industry doesn’t consider it, the legislator might interact and set boundaries. The Ethics Guidelines are a good start, but are not as comprehensive as Responsible AI: A Global Policy Framework by ITechlaw, a book to which our firm contributed.

WHAT CHALLENGES DID YOU FACE SETTING UP YOUR OWN PRACTICE?

As we were well connected with a broad network and existing reputation, we had no particular challenge in the setting-up of our practice. However, the challenge today is growth and the handling thereof.

WHAT IS THE BEST PIECE OF CAREER ADVICE YOU HAVE EVER RECEIVED?

If you don’t like it, change it. You are not a tree.

WWL Ranking: Thought Leader

WWL says

Nicole Beranek Zanon is a top name in the Swiss market with “great knowledge” of the area and outstanding experience across a broad range of data-related issues.

Questions & Answers

Nicole Beranek Zanon advises her clients in the fields of Swiss and international data protection, IT security, and information and communications law. Her recent work is especially focused on AI and distributed ledger technologies. Nicole graduated from the University of Fribourg (with a special degree in European law, as well as a bilingual degree in German and French) and is fluent in English, French and Italian. She is a registered notary public of the Canton of Zug. Nicole holds an executive MBA degree from the University of St Gallen.

What inspired you to pursue a legal career?

Even as a child, I was eloquent and it was easy for me to handle quarrels. Playing with language and building logical chains of arguments always fascinated me.

What did you find most challenging about entering the field of data law?

Nothing, as I’m from a generation that has grown up with it.

How has the data market changed since you first started practising?

Data protection has become a respected field since the GDPR. Clients are more conscious that they must design their services and products in compliance with data protection principles, and must respect the privacy of their customers or potential customers. They also learned that they are more vulnerable due to their digitalisation, and must count on being hacked.

How do you expect the new Swiss Federal Act on Data Protection to impact Swiss companies as well as your own practice?

Swiss companies must make plans and gather resources to ensure compliance with the revised Swiss Federal Act on Data Protection. We expect again a rise in the demand for expert knowledge on data protection.

How is the generational shift changing legal practice at your firm? What do younger lawyers do differently?

We are going down the path of digitalisation and our younger lawyers have the perfect skillset for that,  as most have an IT background or a high interest in it. Besides this, they are slower in a lot of areas than the experienced lawyers, and we try to give them time to learn.

How do you anticipate the Swiss legal market changing in the next five years? How might this affect your practice?

More legal services will be provided by non-law firms. These services might help us as supporting services, but some will also be in parallel with what we do. So we try not only to digitalise our service delivery, but also to create our own products – such as our highly standardised litigation process tool.

Looking back over your career, what is the most memorable case you have been a part of?

When I worked with Switch, we developed a new strategy on how the existing business could be saved “around” regulation. At that moment it was clear that the regulation would prohibit a registry from operating at the same time a registrar. From the market there came a lot of pushback and we had a couple of legal cases. But in the end we could close them all and the strategy could be implemented.

You have enjoyed a distinguished career so far. What would you like to achieve that you have not yet accomplished?

I would like to be board member on one or two more boards, where my experience and view will be much appreciated.

Global Leader

WWL Ranking: Recommended
WWL Ranking: Recommended
WWL Ranking: Recommended

National Leader

Switzerland - Data

Professional Biography

WWL Ranking: Recommended

WWL says

Nicole Beranek Zanon is a prominent name in the market who gains plaudits for her "ridiculously fast" service and her wide-ranging knowledge of e-commerce, cloud computing and data protection matters.

Biography

Nicole Beranek Zanon advises her clients in the fields of Swiss and international data protection; IT security; and information and communications law, as well as all related matters – especially concerning data protection, artificial intelligence and distributed ledger technologies.

Nicole worked for many years as in-house counsel for the leading National Research and Education Network (NREN). As general counsel in the area of domain names, she supported regulatory issues, ICT services and corporate housekeeping.

Nicole is an active board member of Swiss Fintech Ladies, and a member of the International Technology Law Association (ITechLaw) and the Swiss Telecommunications Association.

Nicole graduated from the University of Fribourg (with a special degree in European law as well as a bilingual degree in German and French). She is fluent in English. She is a registered notary public of the Canton of Zug and advises clients in IT M&A transactions and the establishment of start-ups. Nicole is admitted to the Bar, and holds an excecutive MBA degree from the University of St Gallen.

Nicole lectures as a specialist on information technology law and compliance at various universities in Switzerland and abroad.

de la cruz beranek Attorneys at Law Ltd is one of the leading IT boutique law firms in Switzerland, with a strong focus on clients’ needs.

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