Manoj Paul, GC at cloud computing specialist Emailvision, is keeping a close eye on evolving data privacy law around the world
Position: General counsel
Industry: Cloud computing
Reporting to: Chief operating officer Guy Porré
Global legal capability: Two
Global revenue: $90m (£57.6m)
Law firms: Field Fisher Waterhouse, Slaughter and May, Wragge & Co
Manoj Paul is an unassuming and understated man for a general counsel at the forefront of legal change. You may not have heard of Emailvision, but there is no doubt about its critical position in the technology world. The cloud computing company, which provides marketers with software they can access virtually through the internet to help their online campaigns, is watching the world of data privacy law closely.
Just a week before The Lawyer met Paul, the US government issued proposals for a new law that, according to the White House, would help give internet users more control over how their personal information is used.
In true global business style, it is America that leads the way. Paul and Emailvision, the French-founded company, are closer to the cusp of the knowledge curve, but the world is keeping an eye on the US guidelines before it decides to mimic them.
“The White House issued guidance recently on the law it’s going to introduce. Even China’s catching up, and India’s catching up,” Paul observes.
“It’s a new area of law. A lot of it’s to do with the cloud. A lot is being written about clouds, data protection and other issues. When you talk about the evolution of the law, it is still catching up with SAAS [software as a service] and the cloud. You can’t say it’s changed – it’s being done as we go.”
The legal ramifications of the cloud are endless, including data protection and IP protection. Paul, however, says the nature of the Emailvision offering – access to software through a cloud – obviates any IP concerns.
Emailvision has changed with the times.
“It’s been an interesting history,” Paul says. “We’ve moved from being an ESP [email service provider] to an SAAS.”
Historically, an IT company would have provided the client with a product that needs to be upgraded and integrated into its IT system.
“What we do is provide software as a service – access through cloud, through web,” Paul says.
Indeed, the company’s product melds a bedrock of computing with a cutting-edge method.
“Databases are one of the earliest concepts in IT,” Paul continues. “What we do is enable sifting through hundreds of records, enabling the segmentation of that data in seconds.”
The legal upside of this relates to IP. Because customers never physically obtain the software – they are just fed it through the cloud – there is no risk of thievery.
“The model we use helps us protect IP, just because of the type of technology,” Paul adds. “As it is only accessed through a browser we’re handing over code to a customer and they’re accessing an application.
“Microsoft now provides access to the software through a browsing experience, via an interface. You’re able to access software that’s run on a third-party application. We update our software several time a year and this is automatically available to our clients. Our IP, our software is always held within our environment. Other vendors will perhaps write a bespoke solution on the customer’s server.”
Team for two
Paul, who joined Emailvision last summer from Patni Computer Systems as the company’s first general counsel, is part of a two-person legal team battling these issues, with one colleague based in the France office. It does not use secondees from firms.
The company’s main external relationships are with Wragge & Co IT partner Derek Southall and Field Fisher Waterhouse TMT partner David Naylor.
Its corporate relationship has been with Slaughter and May private equity head Jeff Twentyman since US technology-focused private equity group Francisco Partners acquired the company in 2010.
Twentyman was advising Francisco and Emailvision on the acquisition of software provider SmartFOCUS Group at the time, with the deals overlapping. Emailvision hired a local French firm for the takeover.
Paul says the arrival of private equity backers has boosted the business.
“That’s made for quite an exciting past couple of years with regard to growth – with regard to drive,” he observes.
The other key date was 2004, when medalled French IT executive Guy Porré joined the company as COO.
“The company has gone through a turbo boost of entrepreneurial growth,” Paul comments.
Paul was brought in a the company’s first general counsel, taking on a corporate, commercial and compliance role, responsible for the network spanning some 20 offices globally. The role is broader in geographic terms than his previous one at Boeing, where he was UK general counsel, although the companies are more similar than you may think.
“The foundation [of Boeing] is technology,” he says. “It’s absolutely amazing, the technology being used to help to design aircraft. The technology is just phenomenal. In Boeing I could say it was rocket science – I met rocket scientists.”
But the way the companies work is rather different. Boeing, which he left in late 2010 before a six-month stint at Patni before it was taken over by iGate, was a much larger company with a formalised roster of external advisers. Paul insists he has the relationships he needs with outside lawyers and says a formal panel is not necessary at the moment.
“I’ve not felt the need [for a panel] at this time,” he says. “I don’t discount it at some time in the future, but for me, I’ve got the relationships for the jobs I need to do.”
Managing director, e-disclosure, Merrill
We’ve seen the adoption of technology software grow and most of Merrill’s clients recognise that it can be hugely beneficial in improving efficiency; a trend that is on the increase.
The cloud offers the ability for barristers, lawyers and their clients to openly collaborate on matters with large volumes of documents. We’re seeing an increase in international matters so the
fact that the cloud facilitates
access regardless of location and time zone often makes this the right decision.
It provides a reliable and scalable infrastructure for many legal software platforms used for both litigation and M&A, ensuring growing data storage needs can be met in cost effectively without making your own significant capital investment and placing more burden on already stretched IT resources.
Lawyers responsible for managing highly sensitive and complex documentation do sometimes have reservations regarding the security of data that is hosted in the cloud, specifically in relation to arbitration. But no system is foolproof – paper can be lost, laptops containing sensitive information left on trains and servers and networks hacked into.
It is now the duty of service providers to ensure the security of the data it hosts by complying with information security information standards such as ISO27001, backing-up data and destroying it securely when no longer needed and regularly testing these security procedures.
There is no ‘one size fits all’
model for cloud delivery, and it is not necessarily the right solution for every matter.
For some highly confidential matters, standalone server-based systems are still preferred. A
private or hybrid cloud system provides greater control over flexibility and security or perhaps a public or community cloud may be the answer.