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Thought Leaders

Thought Leaders

Nicole Beranek Zanon

Nicole Beranek Zanon

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Thought Leader

WWL Ranking: Global Elite Thought Leader
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

Questions & Answers

Nicole Beranek Zanon has advised her clients in the fields of Swiss and international data protection, IT security and information and communications law and all related matters for many years. As an expert in that field she is an active member of different practice groups on technology matters. Nicole graduated from the University of Fribourg (with a special degree in European law/German and French). She is a registered notary public of the canton of Zug and admitted to the Bar. Furthermore, Nicole holds an executive MBA degree from the University of St Gallen. Nicole lectures as a specialist on information technology law and compliance at various universities, such as the University of Applied Science and Arts Northern Switzerland, Zurich. de la cruz beranek Attorneys at Law Ltd is one of the leading IT boutique law firms in Switzerland. 

WHAT ATTRACTED YOU TO SPECIALISE IN IT AND DATA PROTECTION LAW? 

IT law and consequentially data protection law is an area where the technological developments force you to always adapt the law principles to new circumstances and to look for new opportunities for your clients. The positive assistance of the client to shape its product or service is what drives me. Also in data protection, you have elements on how to positively and compliantly shape a service, website or a product and not just negatively touched compliance action that must be fulfilled.

WHAT SETS YOUR FIRM APART FROM COMPETITORS IN THE MARKET? 

We are closer to the needs of the clients. With our strong focus on legal and regulatory matters in the fields of information technology and data protection de la cruz beranek Attorneys at Law is linked to the industry not only by giving legal advice but also by shaping regulatory and sectorial based standards. All partners of the firm have long-term experience as in-house counsel, hence why our understanding of our clients’ needs is broader.

HOW HAS YOUR PREVIOUS EXPERIENCE IN-HOUSE AT SWITCH ENHANCED YOUR CAREER IN PRIVATE PRACTICE? 

Due to my long-term engagement in this SME I have gained a deep understanding of the mechanism of companies and the technical deep insight understanding on the functioning of the internet. I was, with a colleague, the co-inventor of take-down procedure for .ch domain names in the context of phishing and malware, which is today used on an international level (ICANN) and also with most ccTLDs. 

HOW IS THE IMPLEMENTATION OF THE GDPR IN THE EU AFFECTING YOU, AND CLIENTS OPERATING IN SWITZERLAND? 

It is having an effect, for two main reasons. First, the new Swiss Federal Data Protection Act is expected to be most likely 95 per cent equivalent with GDPR; and second, most Swiss companies are falling under the application field of the GDPR as they provide services and/or products to customers in the EU or are collecting information from internet users through their website. 

TO WHAT EXTENT DOES SWITZERLAND MATCH WHAT THE EU DOES IN DATA, OR DIVERGE FROM IT? WILL THIS CHANGE? 

Switzerland has in respect of data protection normally a more pragmatic approach. So the existing draft of the new Federal Data Protection goes in the direction of GDPR, but is not as unpractical. As an example: also under new Swiss law a DPIA would be required, but approval by the DPA is not necessary if the DPO has consulted on the matter. 

WHERE, IN YOUR OPINION, DOES THE FUTURE OF THE PRACTICE AREA LIE?

I believe and hope, that we will have in the future more standardisation in this field and as well a decrease of (useless) regulation (as was seen in Austria). 

WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU SHARE WITH YOUNGER LAWYERS WHO HOPE ONE DAY TO BE IN YOUR POSITION?

You must want it.

LOOKING BACK OVER YOUR CAREER, WHAT HAVE YOU BEEN THE MOST PROUD OF? 

Every time, if I can effect something, I am proud of it: the invention of the take-down for malware and phishing domain names; every product and service I help a client to create; and every business idea we help to be turned into reality. 

Global 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.

Biography

Nicole Beranek Zanon advises her clients in the fields of Swiss and international data protection, IT security, IT and information and communications law and all related matters for many years. As an expert in that field, she is an active member of different practice groups on technology matters such as Cloud Security Alliance and Swiss Fintech Ladies.

Nicole graduated from the University of Fribourg (with a special degree in European law/German and French). She is a registered notary public of the Canton of Zug and admitted to the Bar. Furthermore, Nicole holds an executive MBA degree from the University of St Gallen.

Nicole lectures as a specialist on information technology law and compliance at various universities, such as the University of Applied Science and Arts Northern Switzerland, Zurich. de la cruz beranek Attorneys at Law Ltd is one of the leading IT boutique law firms in Switzerland.

Data - Data Security 2019

Professional Biography

WWL Ranking: Recommended

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.

Biography

Nicole Beranek Zanon advises her clients in the fields of Swiss and international data protection, IT security, IT and information and communications law and all related matters for many years. As an expert in that field, she is an active member of different practice groups on technology matters such as Cloud Security Alliance and Swiss Fintech Ladies.

Nicole graduated from the University of Fribourg (with a special degree in European law/German and French). She is a registered notary public of the Canton of Zug and admitted to the Bar. Furthermore, Nicole holds an executive MBA degree from the University of St Gallen.

Nicole lectures as a specialist on information technology law and compliance at various universities, such as the University of Applied Science and Arts Northern Switzerland, Zurich. de la cruz beranek Attorneys at Law Ltd is one of the leading IT boutique law firms in Switzerland.

WWL Ranking: Recommended

WWL says

Nicole Beranek Zanon is very highly regarded in the field of IT law where she stands out for her particular expertise relating to contracts and liability. She comes “highly recommended” as a “well-connected” practitioner with standout client service skills.

Biography

Nicole Beranek Zanon advises her clients in the fields of Swiss and international data protection, IT security, IT and information and communications law and all related matters for many years. As an expert in that field, she is an active member of different practice groups on technology matters such as Cloud Security Alliance and Swiss Fintech Ladies.

Nicole graduated from the University of Fribourg (with a special degree in European law/German and French). She is a registered notary public of the Canton of Zug and admitted to the Bar. Furthermore, Nicole holds an executive MBA degree from the University of St Gallen.

Nicole lectures as a specialist on information technology law and compliance at various universities, such as the University of Applied Science and Arts Northern Switzerland, Zurich. de la cruz beranek Attorneys at Law Ltd is one of the leading IT boutique law firms in Switzerland.

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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