My career in law has thrown up a lot of challenges and opportunities for me since qualifying in 2012, but I never imagined that it would take me to Japan where I would be helping to shape global policies and influencing world leaders.
That’s just what happened to me last month. At the end of April 2016, I was lucky enough to represent the UK at the Y7 Summit in Tokyo, Japan. The Y7 Summit is the official youth platform within the Group of Seven process and is aligned with the upcoming G7 Summit taking place on 26-27 May in Ise-Shima, Japan.
I’m a TMT associate at Dentons and it was through working at the firm that I became aware of the Future Leaders Network, a not-for-profit organisation which seeks to discover and develop the next generation of political, economic and social leaders. They run the application and interview process for the Y7 and I decided to put myself forward with the backing of partners in my department and the firm’s management.
The Y7 delegates were chosen based on their specialist knowledge of topics covering terrorism, gender equality, refugees, social entrepreneurship, aging society, educational inequality, and the impact of technology on the economy. The purpose of the Y7 is to assess the impact these areas are having from the perspective of the younger generation and to present proposals to the G7 leaders at the G7 Summit.
The application process was rigorous and quite competitive, and only a handful of delegates from the UK, Canada, the United States, Germany, Italy, France, and Japan were selected to represent their respective nations. I was chosen as one of just four delegates from the UK and one of around 40 delegates who represented the G7 group of nations at the Y7 event.
I focus on data protection law, so when it came to honing in on a specialist area and convincing the judging panel about how I could contribute at the Y7, I was able to draw on my experiences as a TMT lawyer. I was particularly drawn to the topic assessing the impact of new technology (such as artificial intelligence) on the economy and how best to prepare the next generation in light of such technological changes.
At the summit, I worked with the other delegates to collectively develop policy proposals that seek to maximise the opportunities presented by new technology, while mitigating associated risks. My wider experience in advising clients from various sectors on big data analytics, profiling, cloud computing and data security naturally fed into the debates and policy discussions in this area. Further, it was interesting to see how useful a background in law, along with the associated skills developed through practice, were to the role of policy making (e.g. requirements for intensive research; clear and concise presentation of ideas; strong negotiation skills).
The outcome of negotiations at the Y7 Summit were compiled in a communiqué of policy proposals. This has since been presented to the Japanese Government and is in the process of being submitted to the Japanese Prime Minister, Shinzo Abe, and to the G7 leaders.
Being involved in the Y7 was an excellent opportunity to collaborate with delegates from other countries and cultures to ensure that the views and opinions of the world’s youth are heard by global leaders. I definitely believe that the experiences I’ve had working as a lawyer and the exposure I’ve had to a specialist area like TMT helped me secure this opportunity. I’m now looking forward to hearing the outputs of the G7 Summit to see the impact our proposals have had.
Majdi Silk is a TMT associate at Dentons