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Meet Patrick O’Kane: Staying on top of global privacy regulation

Patrick O’Kane, UK Qualified Lawyer (Barrister). Head of Privacy for FIS Inc. in London, UK.

Patrick O’Kane ( was interviewed by Robert Bond (, Senior Counsel & Notary Public at Bristows LLP in London, UK.

RB: When you were at school, did you want to be a lawyer?

PO: Thanks for interviewing me. I have long been a fan of CEP Magazine. Your question reminds me of the quote at the beginning of To Kill a Mockingbird: “Lawyers, I suppose, were children once.” As a boy, I aspired to a number of careers, including that of a professional golfer and even an actor. My boyhood acting dreams ended abruptly when I stepped on the school stage and promptly forgot all my lines! I think law became more interesting to me when I began watching the O.J. Simpson trial on TV. The way in which the opposing lawyers made their arguments fascinated me. I noticed the emotional argument often is more powerful than the logical argument.

RB: You qualified as a barrister, so tell us if this helped or hindered your move into compliance and, in particular, data protection.

PO: It helped enormously. I was a barrister appearing in courts before I became an in-house lawyer in the corporate world. One of the key things I learned in private practice was the importance of communicating clearly. In compliance, there are so many different stakeholders—regulators; external clients; colleagues from marketing, human resources, and security. In compliance we must communicate clearly with those stakeholders. No legalese, no acronyms, no compliance-speak. And my time in the courts has helped me develop those skills.

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