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Our in-house champion: Joanne Bone

What is your role and day to day function at Irwin Mitchell?

I am a Commercial Partner based in the Leeds office of Irwin Mitchell, advising businesses across all sectors on intellectual property (IP) and IT issues both nationally and internationally. I provide specialist advice in relation to IT contracts, e-commerce and data protection, working regularly with in-house counsel across the UK and championing our IM Connect programme in the North. I am so committed to the in-house programme at Irwin Mitchell that I even married an in-house lawyer!

How have you utilised any in-house experience to shape how you support in-house teams?

For a number of years I have led the in-house commercial contracts team for the Irwin Mitchell Group. This experience has given me an understanding of the role of an in-house lawyer in that they get more involved in the risk decisions and strategic direction of the business. They need to give proactive rather than reactive advice which demonstrates clear value to the board. This has shaped the advice me and my team give so as to ensure that it is pragmatic, to the point and gives clear direction. In my area where we tend to provide specialist advice to in-house counsel it is all about working in partnership, giving the advice that is needed and supporting them in being a strategic advisor to the business. One of my favourite client quotes is “she doesn’t sit on the fence and always points us in the right direction.”

What are the big issues coming across your desk?

Having advised businesses and other lawyers on data protection for almost 20 years, data protection is finally under the spotlight. It is no longer the esoteric, geeky subject that it once was. In view of the Big Data revolution and the way in which technology has moved on it has given rise to the ability of all businesses to collect and manipulate vast amounts of data for competitive gain. The result of which is that data protection is now a key concern for in-house counsel across all sectors. The new General Data Protection Regulation is the single biggest issue coming across my desk currently as businesses seek clear, pragmatic advice on compliance and how to take advantage of good data governance.

If you could work in-house anywhere, where would it be and why?

My ideal in-house role would be the combination of a busy and renowned retailer (Selfridges would do!) who holds a significant amount of consumer data. This would feed both my shopping addiction and passion for providing specialist data protection advice in an environment where good data governance can build customer trust and confidence and impact on the long term success or failure of the business.

Published: 21 April 2017

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Spring 2017

Key Contact

Joanne Bone