With a passion for data protection and privacy

As the new Director of the Data Protection Authority, Data Protection lawyer Line Coll would like the authority to provide a more practical advice and be perceived as more relevant to the business community. After 25 years as a lawyer, she will soon deal with a completely new part of her career.

On 30 April, Line Coll had her last work day in Wikborg Rein. In August, the privacy specialist starts in a new job as the Director of the Data Protection Authority.

– I will miss the people and the Wikborg Rein culture the most, acknowledges Coll.

Ever since she delivered the/her student thesis on privacy in electronic commerce and worked as a scientific assistant at the University of Oslo in the mid 90's, Coll has had a strong interest in privacy law.  As a partner in Wikborg Rein she has, among other things, helped clients with practical and feasible implementation and compliance with the privacy regulations.

– My interest in privacy and perception of how important it is, has increased proportionally with the development from 1997 to today. Today, we are a completely digital society where data is of very great value and is used everywhere and by everyone – not least by the large, powerful private operators. Privacy concerns all of us as individuals, but also to the greatest extent commercial and government activities who in many ways handle privacy on behalf of us, individual people. This may be your bank, insurance company, the gym you use or The Institute of public health during a pandemic. To assist these participants as a lawyer has been very exciting - not least after GDPR became applicable, Coll. 

As a home coming

Already in 1999, she opened the doors at Wikborg Rein's then offices at Kronprinsesse Märtha's plass for the first time. After a couple of years outside the company, she was back in 2018 – this time as a partner.

– When I rejoined, I experienced it as coming home again. Many of the people I had worked with the first time were here still. This gives testimony of a special corporate culture and a good working environment with generous, helpful and good colleagues.

Now she leaves the job as head of the privacy team to her colleague Gry Hvidsten. 

– Wikborg Rein has a fantastic strong data protection team, and with Gry at its forefront, the team is in the best of hands. I look forward to following them from the sideline - and I am sure they will have many exciting and big assignments in the future, says Coll.

As head of the Norwegian Data Protection Authority, Coll can probably expect an even more visible role in the public in the future. Now she is going to run a more outgoing business.

– I look forward to devoting time to delivering lectures and meeting people, businesses and organisations. Meeting people gives me energy!

Will be relevant to the Norwegian business community

The media coverage that accompanies the new senior management job, she has a more ambitious relationship with. 

– It is not important for me to be exposed in the media. I am interested in the internal life of the Norwegian Data Protection Authority and my clear goal is to ensure that the Authority performs at its best in order to fulfil its mandate regarding the best possible privacy protection for both private, public and business.

– What will be the most important thing for you in your new position?

– Delivery of the goals we set for the Data Protection Authority to fulfil its mandate. It requires a great deal of effort internally, but also externally. Obviously, it has one of the strongest and largest professional environments in Norway in this field, and I will try to play on what they do well. At the same time, there will always be something that can be improved and changed. My background in the business life is probably the most important thing I have come in with. One of the things we have been a little frustrated about is that the advice and feedback from the Data Protection Authority has appeared a little reality-free and difficult to put into practice. It is very exciting to be able to turn the supervision over to be even more practical and relevant to businesses.

– How do you look feel about leaving the law industry?

– A little strange, after all I have been a lawyer or in-house lawyer for 25 years! At the same time, it’s very exciting to be able to do something new. I am prepared for a steep learning curve in the Data Protection Authority and that I will probably have to compromise a bit.  

As a female partner and mother of small children, she has been an important role model for young lawyers, both in Wikborg Rein and the rest of the law industry. She was a single mother to two minor children when she became a partner in Wikborg Rein in 2018.

– It's definitely been demanding and demanded a lot of logistics to make it work.

Wants more women

In an interview with Dagens Næringsliv this time last year, Coll was cited as not having watched a TV-series for many years.

– That was probably a bit exaggerated, says Coll.

– But it's right – when the children were very small, I prioritized hard. After the children got bigger it has become easier. I've seen several good TV-series now, she laughs.

– My children and my job have for many years been my clear first priority. Because the job has been so fun, it has also given me lots of energy.  

She wished there were more female partners in both Wikborg Rein and the rest of the law industry.

– It is difficult to say anything other than that the development should have gone faster. To get it started, you need good, realistic examples that the young lawyers can compare themselves with.

– What advice do you have for young women who want to pursue a career as a business lawyer?

– Find a field you think is fun and you are passionate about. Whether it's privacy, or something else, you should feel a bit of joy bubbling inside when you address a new issue. With commitment and enjoyment for the field of work, your working life is fun and rewarding. It will be noticed by everyone working around you. So it’s not a case of being an energetic Duracell bunny all the time. If you have a bad day, that’s fine too. Having some valves to air out can be very important to get through the working day.

Another piece of advice for those who feel that work and family life are a difficult combination, whether young women or men may be that "this too shall pass".

– Everything goes in waves, and kids actually get bigger. Try to find good solutions that work in the phase you are in now and have a good and open dialogue with your manager. I have managed to do a lot by focusing on good logistics and taking one day at a time.

– How do you look at Wikborg Rein in the future?

– Basically this is a fantastic company that performs very well! I still think we need to focus even more on keeping the young, good lawyers, especially the women, for longer. We have so many talented women in Wikborg Rein, and to facilitate and ensure that they remain, I think will be absolutely crucial for success going forward. Securing a work day that meets expectations for generations to come and acknowledges that this is part of ensuring that operations are at the forefront of the rapid development and requirements of sustainability and social responsibility, I think this will be very important for large, successful businesses such as Wikborg Rein in the future. I look forward to following you!

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