GDPR is here to stay - legal expert Orlagh Kelly from Briefed explains how this might affect your business...

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  • If your organisation offers goods or services to, or monitors the behaviour of, EU “data subjects”, then the General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR) apply to you.  The new regulations come into effect in May 2018, and penalties for any data breach can be significant.

    Sync NI’s ‘GDPR Guru’ Orlagh Kelly is here to offer advice on what you need to consider in relation to GDPR over the months ahead...


    According to the EU’s GDPR portal: “The aim of the GDPR is to protect all EU citizens from privacy and data breaches in an increasingly data-driven world that is vastly different from the time in which the 1995 directive was established. [This directive applies to] any information related to a natural person or ‘Data Subject’, that can be used to directly or indirectly identify the person. It can be anything from a name, a photo, an email address, bank details, posts on social networking websites, medical information, or a computer IP address.”

    1. How did a barrister become a tech entrepreneur?

    I always dreamed about a becoming a lawyer. I saw an episode of Perry Mason when I was a child and fell in love with the idea of court work. I really wanted to fight for people who couldn’t fight for themselves.

    At 25, I was called to the Bar and found myself self-employed and tasked with building my own practice. But it went well - I established a successful family law practice, handling over 200 cases a year as one of the top-earning family barristers in my jurisdiction.

    Since childhood I have dreamt of a career as a barrister. I saw an episode of Perry Mason and fell in love with the idea of court work and of fighting for people who couldn’t fight for themselves. From that day my commitment to my goal was unwavering - I wanted into the courtroom and I wanted to get there fast.

    I was called to the Bar aged 25 and having never considered running my own business I found myself

    self- employed and tasked with building my own practice. 8 years on I had established a successful family law practice, handling over 200 cases a year as one of the top earning family barristers in my jurisdiction. But the practicalities of running my own business were holding me back - I was overrun by paper work and had no way in which to market myself effectively and grow the business. I knew the answer lay in technology and with no practice management tools available for barristers I took the daunting step into the world of tech and set about developing one myself. And so Briefed was born.

    It became clear that one of the key advantages for barristers using the platform was the ability to easily increase their data security. I realised that businesses needed access to a range of products and training in order to meet their data protection and GDPR requirements, a need that no one was satisfying. Hence, Briefed has evolved into a business, not only offering the original case management system but which services companies on every step of their compliance journey, through our e-products and training and our consultancy services. 

    The two sides of the business go hand in hand. The knowledge and understanding we gain from working with organisations and learning about the practical challenges presenting from GDPR, shapes and informs our online offerings, ensuring a relevant product designed to truly up skill the user.

    2. What was the biggest lesson you learned in different acceleration and incubation programmes?

    It’s very easy to assume everyone else knows what is best for you and your business. Early on, I was encouraged to aim for a Silicon Valley-type business with hundreds of employees and investors, but in reality that wasn’t my personal goal. I’m very happy now with what is a high-quality business with a prominent brand in the UK and Ireland. Over time, I learned to trust in myself and back my own judgment.

    3. If you could go back in time, what advice would you give to yourself in the run up to the launch of Briefed?

    I’ve gained a lot from the Lean Startup Methodology. It’s a scientific approach to testing target markets and understanding the appetite for a product prior to development. As the revenue required for development is generated through sales, this way of working can reduce timescales and the need for outside investment. Had I worked with this methodology from the get-go, I could have brought the original Briefed product to the market faster and at less expense.

    4. So if GDPR issues affect my business, how does Briefed help to equip me for the challenges ahead?

    First and foremost GDPR is legislation, and understanding how to implement legislation requires legal expertise. We look at organisations on a case by case basis and see how the new legislation affects them personally; their practices, their policies and their people.

    We provide an audit of where a business currently ranks in terms of compliance, detailing areas for improvement and most importantly, telling an organisation HOW to improve. We work with current processes and technology and provide unbiased recommendations should further investment be required. 
    Our training programmes, both live and online, are designed to ensure that a company’s greatest asset and their greatest risk - their people - are fully versed and ready to act as their first line of defense.

    We also provide the Briefed Quality Mark in Data Protection so that organisations can highlight their achievements and market themselves as GDPR compliant.

    5. Is there a sense of urgency amongst businesses in relation to GDPR issues?

    In Great  Britain, yes. In Northern Ireland, no. I think businesses here are only starting to realise the possible implications and the severity of the penalties should they fail to comply with GDPR.

    6. What will GDPR look like in a post-Brexit environment?

    The notion that Brexit will affect GDPR, or further still that it will mean we don’t have to comply with GDPR, is a myth. In reality GDPR is already in force and we are living in a grace period until May 2018. To put it quite simply - GDPR is here to stay. Make sure your company complies and make sure now.

    7. What is the one piece of advice you would like to give to clients who are worried about their ability to become GDPR compliant?

    Don’t panic. You still have time to make sure you are GDPR compliant. Just start planning now and take action sooner rather than later.

    We’ve established the ‘Quality Mark’ as a way of recognising companies who have invested in achieving their compliance requirements and providing them with a tool for use in their own marketing purposes. The accreditation is achievable in all sectors, not limited to the legal industry, and it provides organisations with a tangible aim when assessing and improving their compliance levels.

    8. Has anything about the evolution of Briefed surprised you?

    Everything! I developed the original Briefed product in response to my own business need - I knew what I needed and I set about developing it. At that point I had no inclination towards leaving the Bar, nor any idea where it would lead me.

    9. If you could give your 18-year-old, your 21-year-old and 25-year-old self a piece of advice what would it be?

    At 18, focus less on the outcome and to enjoy the university experience more. At 21, understand that people are your biggest asset, and start creating a network as soon as possible. At 25, enjoy your 20’s - they go way too fast!!

    10. Where do you see yourself in five years’ time?

    My evolution from barrister to tech CEO was something I could not have foreseen five years ago. So the next five? I would like to have developed Briefed to the point where it’s ready to be handed over to another CEO leaving me free to focus on my next challenge.

    To hear Orlagh Kelly talk more about GDPR, attend the ‘Demystifying GDPR’ event at the Novosco HQ 5.30pm-7.30pm on September 28. Book your tickets here. For more about Briefed, follow the company on twitter @briefpro and log onto



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