Since joining BNP Paribas America in 2015, Samantha Himelman has led a growing team in the legal...
The banking jobs : Legal Counsel
From opening a new bank account and subscribing to an insurance policy or mobile plan, to signing up for a newsletter, you share personal data every time you take on a new service. As a result, protecting this data has emerged as one of today’s biggest challenges. Within the BNP Paribas Group, legal counsels such as Lorraine Morel help to put in place measures designed to protect customer data. Discover this fast-growing professional field.
What do you do as a legal counsel at BNP Paribas?
Within the French Retail banking network, I oversee compliance with regulations governing personal data protection. In concrete terms, I help operations teams put these regulations into practice, within the context of their projects involving the use or transfer of retail and small business customer data—subscribing to a new product, taking out a loan, opening an account, etc. My internal contacts are mainly concentrated in marketing, digital and innovation, risks, data management and security. My job covers all of the bank’s channels—branches, online banking, mobile banking.
What assignments do you typically work on day-to-day?
My days typically include meetings with the managers of each project (operational heads), who present their issues to us. Next comes a long phase of analysis and then recommendations. After studying the personal data aspects of their project and understanding the needs of my contacts, I suggest adequate solutions that comply with regulations and account for their business constraints. These cover operations, budgeting, deadlines and other issues.
What is your biggest challenge?
Presenting solutions in the most practical terms possible, with no legal jargon. The email recap of our recommendation has to list each potential action and the associated risks in a clear and concise way. Many legal texts are subject to interpretation. That’s where we come in and propose a solution adapted to a particular context, which complies with the law while being comprehensible by everyone.
What is different about exercising a legal profession in retail banking?
First of all, the sheer volume of data—retail banking activities process a massive amount of information. Next is regulation: it is constantly changing. It’s extremely difficult to anticipate future laws—staying up to date is already a daily task. Here, we solve problems one day at a time. So, you have to think on your feet and be able to quickly grasp changes in legislation.
Is training available to stay up to date on changing legislation?
Yes, in fact I recently completed one. BNP Paribas created the DLC2 (Digital Legal Competency Center), an innovative way to provide training in new technologies, in partnership with Panthéon-Assas University and a law firm. The center offers various training modules to legal counsels at the Group. For my part, I took part with 51 other experienced legal counsels in a certificate program on the topics of cybersecurity, digital solutions, cloud computing and personal data.
What project are you working on at the moment?
The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) has kept us busy for the past two years. As a reminder, GDPR governs the treatment and circulation of personal data in the European Union. In the French Retail Banking network, we tackled the subject head on, notably in order to implement gradual updates into our customer information clauses and the contracts with our suppliers and partners.
What qualities does it take to do this job?
You need a legal and operational mind, in order to propose relevant and realistic solutions. You need to know how to decipher the documents, work closely with operations teams and understand the specific issues facing each business, because the goal is also to inform operations teams about the legal ramifications of using personal data within the Group. Lastly, organization, rigor and listening are essential skills.
What do you like most about BNP Paribas?
The Group’s international dimension and its opportunities for career advancement and internal mobility, whether between departments, within a business or between geographic regions. I also appreciate the chance to work on large-scale projects.
“ Find a job you are passionate about. Don’t hesitate to reassess your choices. Be proactive about your career and make sure you have the resources you need to succeed in doing what you love! ”
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