Adv. Prashant Mali is the only distinguished Cyber Security & Cyber Law Expert Lawyer in India to have Masters in Computer Science and Masters in Law with prior working experience in the field of S/W, Networking & IT security. He has more than 20 years all-around experience in the field of IT & Law(Litigation & Consulting). He is the author of several books on cyber law, cybercrime and privacy law. He was recently awarded the “Cyber Security Lawyer of the Year: India 2016” by Financial Magazine (UK).
In this post, Mr Mali shares his opinions and vision with the Law & Practice Blog.
Being India’s only distinguished cyber expert with Masters in both Technology and Law, how do you feel having inspired so many students to follow your footsteps?
If there are large numbers of newly entrant and budding lawyers, who after their formal education in IT or computer science or computer engineering have got into LL.B., then I have the full right to take credit as I was one of the first to take this leap in India. I even find people with computer science resigning their IT jobs and joining LLB to make a career in tech law. I feel proud to have inspired so many students in India and abroad to take this career route and integrate technology with the law.
How would you describe yourself and your work?
I am a perpetual learner and the hunger within me to learn and articulate cyber thoughts for the larger audience differentiates me as a cyber thought leader.
What does it take to be a cyber lawyer?
A good cyber lawyer is the one who understands all three worlds of technology, security and law, his judicial mind has to be evolved around inter juncture. A rational pragmatic mind of a cyber lawyer is must in order to anticipate novation in technology at a rapid pace.
Cyberlaw practice is generally of civil and criminal nature, but can also be restricted only to Alternate Dispute Resolution (ADR). I practice all facets and stick to my core competence, years of sustainability and never getting lured by easy money practice of real estate or tribunals. When you take a different route believing in oneself, determination and confidence are the things that will make you great in the long run.
Where does a cyber lawyer fit in the IT industry?
A lawyer with technical qualifications could work as a CIO or CTO or CISO in any company because IT-related legal issues are often forwarded or investigated initially by in-house IT or infosec departments.
What challenges would development in information technology pose to lawyers in the upcoming years?
I feel next-gen tech lawyers would even have to know how coding is done because we will have issues related to Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning and Robotics and if a lawyer doesn’t understand an algorithm, a logic, or how these technology incorporating devices are made or how they work, he would never be able to use it as evidence in courts nor suggest a legal policy around it to client.
What would be your advice to all the young minds who wish to pursue a career in the techno-legal field of cyberlaw?
I see so many yesteryear lawyers securing postal diplomas in cyber law and trying to break grounds in this techno-legal field, but after a couple of client interactions, the client gives them thumbs-down. I personally have 10 years prior experience in IT and now the rest 10 in Law with focus on cyber-crime, online fraud, e-commerce, privacy. Let me assure you that my qualifications of computer science coupled with Masters in law coupled with IT industry experience say a lot to prospective clients. I strongly advocate such a combination and insist on even taking juniors with the same technical background.
I would suggest to all on the fence wanting to make a career in cyber law, to hone their technical skills and be ready to become a perpetual learner. One needs to do everything to cultivate a techno-judicous mind, for which one has to have the passion for this field of legal practice. India needs many good cyber lawyers even in rural areas and that makes this line a sunshine option in the shadow of Digital India.