Hunton & Williams hires former Pinsents privacy head

US firm Hunton & Williams has ramped up its London data protection team with the hire of Rosemary Jay, former head of privacy at Pinsent Masons and former head of legal at the UK Information Commissioner’s Office.

US firm Hunton & Williams has ramped up its London data protection team with the hire of Rosemary Jay, former head of privacy at Pinsent Masons and former head of legal at the UK Information Commissioner’s Office.

Jay will join the firm in October as a part-time consultant, bringing more than 20 years’ data protection and regulatory experience.

She will join managing partner Bridget Treacy, who leads the firm’s UK privacy and information management practice, and Richard Thomas, former Information Commissioner and global strategy adviser for Hunton’s data protection think-tank the Centre for Information Policy Leadership, alongside a team of associates.

Jay has past experience working with the Council of Europe and the European Commission on privacy issues in Europe and with the Commonwealth Secretariat in West Africa.

She is also an editor of the Encyclopaedia of Data Protection and is currently working on the fourth edition of her text book Data Protection Law and Practice, which she will combine with her part time work at Hunton & Williams.

Treacy is viewing the hire as a first step towards rebuilding the London base after a spate of partner defections and staff redundancies earlier year which saw the office shrink by more than 60 per cent (12 July 2011).

The firm has now launched a new strategy for the City, placing more emphasis on its data protection and energy and infrastructure practices alongside corporate and finance.

“Rosemary’s arrival is competely consistent with that strategy,” Treacy said. “It’s the first of our hires following the departure of those colleagues who left, and she’s a real name in data protection. She has probably got more experience in that market than anyone else, having worked as a regulator and at Pinsent Masons, as well as having authored the most authoritative text book on data protection law.”

While Jay’s past work has focused mainly on the public sector, Treacy expects her to adopt a more international focus in her new consultancy role.

“She has had an interest for some time in doing more international work,” Treacy said. “Public sector work and outsourcing initiatives are something she has been known for, but she has a very deep knowledge of the law and has already participated at a European level in those initiatives.”

Treacy said Jay’s arrival would also boost the regulatory experience within the privacy and information management team in preparation for the forthcoming EU Data Protection Directive, which is expected to empower regulators with more enforcement capabilities.

“It’s important to understand how the regulator thinks and Rosemary will contribute to that,” she said.

Treacy also expects two associates from different firms to join Hunton’s UK privacy team in the coming weeks, bringing the practice up to seven qualified lawyers in London.