Women in Law: an Interview with Katie Hyman
News Katie Hyman · March 9, 2022
What are your favorite things to do when you’re not working?
I really love cooking. Recently, I have started cooking with my kids, JoJo (9) and Tali (7). Every Sunday night we have fresh pasta night and have been trying some great recipes. I love the British-Israeli chef Yotam Ottolenghi, and this week I made his delicious Pasta Alla Norma. We also all love to watch the Great British Bake Off together and argue over who should be the winner each week.
I also love to read. I probably read around 100 books a year. I especially love literary fiction. I find that books give me a window into different times and cultures, which I really enjoy. It’s too hard to pick a favorite but some I’ve enjoyed recently are Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi, The Thief of Time by John Boyne and Klara and the Sun by Kazuo Ishiguro.
What is the most interesting thing you have ever done?
The most interesting thing I’ve done is probably also the most dangerous! In university, I traveled to Ghana with a friend to volunteer helping women with disabilities. In Ghana, if you have a physical disability, getting work is all but impossible. We set up professional opportunities for these women that they would not otherwise have and helped them to find financing for their businesses. We stayed for a few months and, during that time, travelled around the country on our time off. One day, we went to a national park where they have large lakes and rivers full of hippos. It was not set up for tourists.We had found it in a guidebook which said that you could pay fisherman to take you out to see hippos, so we found someone and contracted with him to go out. As we’re sitting in his tiny boat, about to launch, the fisherman began to pray, asking God to not let our boat get overturned by the hippos. My friend and I looked at one another terrified – we had not anticipated this! But I guess God was on our side that day because we made it. It was really fun but, it turns out, really dangerous.
You’re English but are living in America. How do you like it? How has the transition been for you?
I’ve been in U.S. in 6 years, and I really like it. I plan to stay – actually, I have my citizenship hearing coming up next week!
Wow, congratulations! How has the process of applying for citizenship been? I hear it’s hard.
I think I’m through the worst of it now. The test was hard! There are 100 questions. Luckily for me, having gone through law school in the U.S., I had an advantage – a lot of the questions are about the U.S. Constitution, which we obviously learned about in great depth. I’m also lucky because I am a native English speaker and didn’t need to go through the language exam. For so many people the process is so much more challenging.
You focus on data privacy, which is such a fast-evolving space. What are some of the interesting trends you see?
It’s obviously an issue that is gathering a lot of steam. In the U.S. especially, I think that we will move towards Federal privacy laws that consolidate what is currently happening in states. The more states that pass their own privacy laws, the more difficult compliance becomes for corporations operating in numerous jurisdictions. What ends up happening is that companies just default in all their locations to compliance with the laws of the strictest state – right now, that’s California. So, it sets up a scenario where one state is de facto setting the federal standard. It feels logical that the U.S would just start to address it on the federal level.
What differences do you see in cultural attitudes towards privacy between the U.S. and Europe?
It’s very interesting to compare the situation in America to the GDPR. In Europe, there is a widespread acceptance that privacy is important. In the U.S., a combination of less awareness of how data is used and a culture that, to a significant extent, lets corporations and their interests lead, translates to less popular pressure and political will to enact strong privacy protections. However, I think as the reach of technology increases and people become more aware of how data is used, there will inevitably be increased privacy laws. COVID has highlighted the stakes around this conversation. The question of if data about whether someone has had COVID or the vaccine should be public is bringing issues of privacy to the fore and, I think, accelerating the progress towards stricter privacy regulations.
There has been a lot of talk recently about ethics and artificial intelligence – how algorithms can perpetuate and even amplify existing inequalities. What role do you think the law should play in addressing this issue?
The issue of artificial intelligence is so interesting. In addition to my work on data privacy issues, I also focus on international arbitration. My colleagues and I always discuss whether arbitration might go to AI. If you programmed all law into a machine, why couldn’t it come up with a perfect judgment? But the question is: how does the AI weigh the evidence? People say that machines cannot be biased, but that’s not true – they reflect the biases of the humans that write the code and set the terms for evaluation, and of biases that have impacted the source data itself. There are some exciting new platforms out there, which I think will gain traction. For example, Kleros, which is an online dispute resolution platform built on the Ethereum blockchain, set up for disputes in the digital economy, where anonymous jurors vote on the outcome, and the system rewards jurors who vote for a fairer outcome. It’s exciting to see where this will go, and what new innovations there will be.
Rimon has 45 offices across five continents. The firm is widely known as being at the vanguard of legal innovation. The firm has been repeatedly recognized by the Financial Times as one of North America’s most innovative law firms. The firm’s Managing Partners were both named ‘Legal Rebels’ by the American Bar Association’s ABA Journal and have spoken on innovations in the practice of law at Harvard and Stanford Law Schools. Rimon and its lawyers have also received numerous awards for excellence, including from Best Lawyers and Chambers.