Paul Jacobson

Paul Jacobson

Digital risk and privacy specialist

Johannesburg Area, South Africa
Legal Services

As a LinkedIn member, you'll join 300 million other professionals who are sharing connections, ideas, and opportunities.

  • See who you and Paul Jacobson know in common
  • Get introduced to Paul Jacobson
  • Contact Paul Jacobson directly

View Paul's full profile

Paul Jacobson's Overview

  • Managing Director at Web•Tech•Law
  • Independent Adjudicator and Appeals Panelist at Wireless Application Service Providers' Association
  • Ad Hoc Adjudicator at The Internet Service Providers Association
  • Writer, photographer and thinker of deep thoughts at
  • Sub-committee member at StanSA/SC 71 L Information Technology: Document Description and Processing Languages
  • Member of the Advisory Council at The Open Knowledge Definition Project Advisory Council
  • General Counsel and Company Secretary at iCommons Limited
  • Fellow at The African Commons Project
  • Fellow at iCommons Limited
  • Lecturer at University of the Witwatersrand
  • Senior Associate at Werksmans Attorneys
  • Professional Assistant/Associate at Werksmans Attorneys
  • Candidate Attorney at Werksmans Attorneys

500+ connections


Paul Jacobson's Summary

I am a digital risk strategist and I consult to businesses on how they can reduce their risks and more effectively take advantage of opportunities in the digital environment. I do this by:

* assessing risks and analysing gaps in digital campaigns and projects;
* consulting on product development;
* running workshops to better inform decisions with an improved awareness of risks and opportunities;
* publishing insights into emerging trends and challenges on the Web•Tech•Law site and selected publications.

My focus areas include privacy and data processing risk, reputational harm, brand and branding protections, digital marketing risks (including direct marketing) and innovative ways to exploit content using smarter licensing options.

I believe in questioning everything and constantly challenging the way things are done. The worst reason to do anything is "because that it how things have always been done". There is tremendous potential to innovate when you step outside traditional paradigms and ask "why?". This is especially true when it comes to digital risk and its legal and compliance components.

I am admitted attorney at the High Court with extensive experience in commercial legal work (including commercial agreements, legal drafting, vetting commercial contracts and providing general legal assistance to small, medium and large businesses). My clients have complimented me on my ability to translate complex legal and other risk issues into plain language which, in turn, helps them make smarter decisions.

Paul Jacobson's Skills & Expertise

  1. Legal Advice
  2. Privacy Law
  3. Legal Writing
  4. Data Protection
  5. Brand Risk Management
  6. Reputational Risk
  7. Digital Marketing Risk
  8. Intellectual Property
  9. Digital Media
  10. Legal Compliance
  11. Licensing
  12. Social Media
  13. Social Networking
  14. Legal Opinions
  15. Corporate Governance
  16. Legal Research
  17. New Media
  18. Management
  19. Contract Law
  20. Corporate Law
  21. Legal
  22. Copyright Law
  23. Courts
  24. Research
  25. Blogging
  26. Entrepreneurship
  27. Legal Assistance
  28. Social Marketing Law
  29. Internet Law
  30. Start-ups
  31. Appeals
  32. General Commercial Agreements
  33. Alternative Dispute Resolution
  34. Competition Law
  35. Legal Services
  36. Commercial Law
  37. Joint Ventures
  38. Mobile Marketing
  39. Arbitration
  40. Due Diligence
  41. Legal Documentation
  42. Writing
  43. Mediation
  44. IT law
  45. Consumer Law
  46. Cyberlaw
  47. Risk Management
  48. Risk Assessment
  49. Contract Management
  50. Commercial Litigation

View All (50) Skills View Fewer Skills

Paul Jacobson's Experience

Managing Director


Privately Held; 1-10 employees; Management Consulting industry

March 2012Present (2 years 7 months) Johannesburg Area, South Africa

I am a Digital Risk Strategist with a passion for simplifying the risk management process for my clients. How do I do this? I typically spend time with my clients clarifying what they want to achieve, identify and explaining risk factors and help them develop effective legal strategies to reduce their exposure to risk. I also speak about aspects of digital risk management at conferences and run workshops for clients on topics ranging from data protection to using social media in constrained industries such as the tobacco industry.

In addition to my work with digital marketers, I have over 5 years' experience adjudicating complaints against mobile services providers both as a single adjudicator as well as an appeal panelist in my role as an independent adjudicator for the Wireless Applications Service Providers' Association. I also advise mobile services companies and marketers on WASPA and related compliance frameworks.

My experience collaborating with marketers, creatives, technologists and lawyers qualifies me to translate their respective concerns and expectations in terms that make sense for the others and facilitate viable solutions. My focus areas include mobile services' regulation, privacy and data protection; reputation management in a digital context; content licensing options and evolving social engagement models.

Independent Adjudicator and Appeals Panelist

Wireless Application Service Providers' Association

December 2008Present (5 years 10 months) Johannesburg Area, South Africa

I am an independent adjudicator and appeals panelist for the Wireless Applications Service Providers' Association. I assess complaints against and appeals against adjudicators' decisions lodged by WASPA members based on the WASPA Code of Conduct and Advertising Rules which effectively govern mobile services in South Africa through WASPA's self-regulatory framework.

My experience with WASPA gives me insight into the practical compliance challenges WASPA members and their clients (which increasingly include a variety of companies which rely on mobile services as critical marketing tools) and how they can remedy non-compliant services, reduce the incidence of fines and other sanctions and develop compliant campaigns and services.

Principal Attorney

Jacobson Attorneys

Sole Proprietorship; 1-10 employees; Legal Services industry

August 2005October 2013 (8 years 3 months) Johannesburg, South Africa

Jacobson Attorneys is a niche commercial and law firm which renders general commercial legal services to its clients. Paul Jacobson, the firm’s founder, founded the firm in August 2005.

Project Lead

OpenLaw Project

Nonprofit; 1-10 employees; Legal Services industry

January 2007May 2013 (6 years 5 months) South Africa

That said, there is a real need for more accessible legal resources for small and startup businesses so I am working with a small group of passionate thinkers, entrepreneurs and open access people to create a sort of think-tank where we can explore ways to make law more meaningfully accessible and incorporate some of those ideas into our work for our Jacobson Attorneys and Web•Tech•Law clients. I’d like our work in OpenLaw Project to be public and I’d like to license our work liberally so other businesses can incorporate those ideas even if we can’t do it ourselves just yet.

One of the things I love about this truly social business work is that it lends itself far more to open collaboration and to open business and enterprise development. South Africa’s success in the years and decades to come will depend very much on whether a woman and her laptop can launch a business in a coffee shop and thrive. We want to help make that easier to do and to help those entrepreneurs start their businesses with better legal frameworks to do that.

General Manager

Legally Content

January 2013March 2013 (3 months) Johannesburg

Legally Content is a legal content and education service and part of Web•Tech•Law Proprietary (Limited). Our goal is to share useful and engaging legal content ranging from guides to multimedia to workshops (and a number of things in between). It’s about meaningful access to legal materials and about helping non-lawyers keep themselves better informed about the law, how it works and how it is applied.

I head up strategy development and work with legal writers and content creators to publish their content through our services.

Ad Hoc Adjudicator

The Internet Service Providers Association

February 2010December 2012 (2 years 11 months) Johannesburg

I have participated in an ISPA appeal panel, considering complaints filed with ISPA regarding Internet service provider practices and conduct.

Writer, photographer and thinker of deep thoughts

December 2004December 2012 (8 years 1 month)

I wrote about a variety of technology related issues although my passions are smart devices, the social Web and an increasingly connected world with changing norms. This wasn't so much of a professional endeavour as it was work I was passionate about. I still write and take photographs but as hobbies and important forms of personal expression.

Sub-committee member

StanSA/SC 71 L Information Technology: Document Description and Processing Languages

July 2007November 2008 (1 year 5 months)

I represent The African Commons Project on this sub-committee of SA Standards (a division of the South African Bureau of Standards). The sub-committee reviews and makes recommendations on candidates for certification as standards (whether that be locally or internationally) and discusses related topics. The focus of the sub-committee is on document descriptions and processing languages.

The sub-committee recently considered and voted against certification of Microsoft's Office Open XML document format at ISO (the international standards body) and subsequently was involved in submitting an appeal to certification of OOXML by ISO pursuant to a fast track process that led to the format's certification.

Member of the Advisory Council

The Open Knowledge Definition Project Advisory Council

February 2008September 2008 (8 months)

The Advisory Council was created in the Autumn of 2007 as the body formally responsible for maintaining and developing the Definitions and associated material found on this site. Its basic goal is to take forward the 'Open Definition' work for the general benefit of the open knowledge community. You can find out more information about the project at

General Counsel and Company Secretary

iCommons Limited

January 2008August 2008 (8 months)

In January 2008 I was appointed General Counsel and Company Secretary for iCommons. iCommons is an organisation with a broad vision to develop a united global commons front by collaborating with open education, access to knowledge, free software, open access publishing and free culture communities around the world. As General Counsel and Company Secretary I advised the Executive Director and the Board on a range of legal, regulatory and policy issues.


The African Commons Project

July 2007January 2008 (7 months)

I am assisting with TACP's activities by providing legal advice and assistance where required.


iCommons Limited

July 2007January 2008 (7 months)

I provide legal assistance to the iCommons team as well as support for various projects undertaken and managed by iCommons from time to time.

Educational Institution; 1001-5000 employees; Higher Education industry

February 2006December 2006 (11 months)

I lectured to first year students on Roman law and to intermediate students on the law of Civil Procedure. Besides preparing and presenting lectures I was also required to mark exam papers and assignments.

Senior Associate

Werksmans Attorneys

Privately Held; 201-500 employees; Legal Services industry

March 2003July 2005 (2 years 5 months) Johannesburg Area, South Africa

Conduct general commercial litigation with focus on long terms insurance based litigation on behalf of large insurance companies. Render general legal advice to corporates. I was able to work relatively autonomously although, where required, I supported work being handled by directors of the firm.

Professional Assistant/Associate

Werksmans Attorneys

Privately Held; 201-500 employees; Legal Services industry

March 2001February 2003 (2 years)

As a professional assistant (and later associate) I still provided support to more senior members of the litigation department and, at the same time, I began to build my own litigation practice with a focus on long term insurance litigation and on unlawful competition.

Candidate Attorney

Werksmans Attorneys

Privately Held; 201-500 employees; Legal Services industry

January 1999February 2001 (2 years 2 months)

I worked as a candidate attorney largely under David Hertz, a partner (and now director) in the litigation department. My role was primarily to support litigation work in the department and in the commercial department.

Paul Jacobson's Additional Information


Visual law models, symbolic representations of legal frameworks, evolving social engagement models, design-based approaches to legal documents and frameworks, mobile technologies, digital security technologies, cryptography, digital authentication technologies, social business, collaborative enterprises, data protection, privacy and culture, photography

Paul Jacobson's Projects

  • Digital Stunt Factory construction

    • August 2013 to Present
    Team Members: Paul Jacobson

    We're building something new for a remarkably innovative and creative industry. We're laying foundations, building structures and models, putting ink in our virtual pens and will announce more soon. For now, check out our manifesto where I write about the tragedy we are working to put an end to.

  • Next Generation Social Media Policy Frameworks

    • June 2013 to Present
    Team Members: Paul Jacobson

    I'm working on an update to a client's social media policy and what strikes me is that the engagement models require something much more.

    I don't think the new framework will be what people commonly see as a social media policy at all. The dynamics are just so different now and will be so different going forward as engagement between internal and external stakeholders becomes so diverse and interwoven than the typical inward facing policy model is only part of a much broader and more pervasive social engagement fabric.

    I suppose it should be surprising. This type of policy framework maps quite nicely to a collaborative enterprise model. It has to be pretty flexible and accommodate multiple perspectives and sharing models. It is a fascinating process – working through some pretty innovative strategies and evolving a policy framework to support it.

    This is the sort of thing I love about my work.

  • Small Business Package

    • April 2013 to June 2013

    We've developed a services offering for small businesses to give them access to a core set of legal frameworks and services to better protect them at an early stage. It's part of an ongoing effort to give underserved small businesses better legal protections.

Paul Jacobson's Volunteer Experience & Causes

  • Volunteer Experience

    • Manager: Legal Affairs

      SA Professional Photographers
      • Arts and Culture
      June 2013 present (1 year 4 months)

      My role is largely to provide legal and compliance support to this growing professional association of South African photographers. I assist a talented and dedicated team of professional photographers who are passionate about developing and supporting the local photographic community.

    • Judge

      Startup Weekend Johannesburg
      • Economic Empowerment
      August 2013 August 2013 (1 month)

      I volunteered as a judge at the 2013 Startup Weekend Johannesburg where I had an opportunity to hear entrepreneurs pitching products or services they prototyped over the course of a weekend and gave input on their ideas. It was inspiring and I enjoyed the creativity and innovation I saw.

  • Volunteer Interests

    • Causes I care about:

      • Arts and Culture
      • Economic Empowerment
      • Education
    • Organizations I support:

      • Creative Commons
      • JoziHub
      • SA Professional Photographers

Paul Jacobson's Publications

  • The South African Direct Marketers' Survival Guide

    • Web•Tech•Law Proprietary (Limited)
    • November 24, 2013
    Authors: Paul Jacobson

    This guide introduces readers to the regulatory frameworks that govern or otherwise impact on digital direct marketing. By “digital direct marketing”, I am referring to direct marketing using digital channels including SMS, email and other social media. My intention is not to comprehensively explore any particular legal framework or all of its possible implications for direct marketing in South Africa but rather to take readers through this sometimes troubling landscape, point out the current law and its trends as well as highlight particular risks.

  • Report on the South African Open Copyright Review

    • Shuttleworth Foundation
    • August 12, 2008

    The South African Open Copyright Review aimed to engage civil society and ordinary South Africans
    in a review of how they understand copyright, and how South African copyright law affects them and
    the work that they do. It followed the review model used by the Alternative Law Forum in Bangalore,
    India, not only because this is a useful model for commenting on law, but also because the ALF
    review is a useful model of how a developing nation with an inherited colonial copyright system can
    approach the law and modulate it to meet the unique needs and features of a developing country.

    After many discussions and workshops, and the opportunity to comment on an online wiki, the
    various concerns, comments and suggestions made were combined into this Report which includes a
    plain language review of South African copyright law, as well as a critique of the areas of the
    Copyright Act (referred to as the “Act”) that should be reviewed and recommendations of possible
    changes that should be made.

    In general, the Report focused on access to knowledge resources and learning materials, and
    examines how the restrictive, European-style law that is currently in place has had a chilling effect on
    the access of learners to knowledge, especially in the area of electronic resources. Many of the
    recommendations that have been made have the potential to liberate knowledge and make it easier
    to access for many South Africans.

Paul Jacobson's Education

University of the Witwatersrand

Certificate in Management of Technology, General aspects of management of technology


This course introduced me to technology innovation and managing that innovation. It was a fascinating grounding in the nature of technological innovation, its trends and phases. Much of what I learned has factored into my thinking about disruptive change and technological evolution that results from that process.

University of the Witwatersrand

Bachelor of Laws (LLB), Law


My LLB studies were focused on a range of legal themes which included telecommunications law, environmental law, legal jurisprudential theory, civil procedure and intellectual property. As a post-graduate program, it built on my Bachelor of Arts studies and qualified me to move into the legal profession in 1999. My chosen route was to become a candidate attorney at Werksmans Attorneys.

University of the Witwatersrand

Bachelor of Arts, Philosophy and Law


My university education was largely a blend of English literature, Philosophy (one of my majors) and Law. Each of these streams has influenced how I work and think. My Philosophy background has permeated my approach to my work and gave me a foundation for my flexible approach to my clients' challenges.

Contact Paul for:

  • career opportunities
  • consulting offers
  • new ventures
  • job inquiries
  • expertise requests
  • business deals
  • reference requests
  • getting back in touch

View Paul Jacobson’s full profile to...

  • See who you and Paul Jacobson know in common
  • Get introduced to Paul Jacobson
  • Contact Paul Jacobson directly

View Paul's full profile

Not the Paul Jacobson you were looking for? View more »

Viewers of this profile also viewed...