Technology has impacted the legal field in a variety of ways. Firms are implementing technology solutions to help them run their practices.
Another way technology has impacted the industry is through the emergence of a new specialization: a tech lawyer.
This is a new field as high tech companies are seeking legal solutions to protect their products and intellectual property.
What does a tech lawyer do? Keep reading to find out.
What Is a Tech Lawyer?
At the most basic level, a tech lawyer is an attorney that deals with clients who produce or manage technology products and services.
This definition means that there is a broad range of tech lawyers spanning across a wide range of industries.
Tech lawyers are charged with reviewing the legal implications of technology solutions, whether they’re for internal use or for public sale.
The challenge for most attorneys is that technology moves much faster than the law.
A great example of this is the Americans with Disabilities Act. It was passed in 1990. At that time, the internet was a network used b government and educational institutions.
The legislation has been revised a few times since then, but one area that remains a legal mystery is whether or not websites are considered to be public spaces. More of these cases are turning into lawsuits and case law has been inconsistent.
How to Become a Tech Lawyer
The one thing that makes being a tech lawyer exciting and challenging is that the field is continuously evolving and changing. You need to stay on your toes if you go this route in your legal career.
Understand Your Strengths as an Attorney
You don’t need to be a computer scientist to be a tech lawyer. However, there are certain skills that are better in some situations than others. You want to honestly assess your strengths and then find the specialization that best fits your skills.
Choose a Specialization Within the Specialization
Yes, there are specializations within the specializations of technology law. Technology is broad, and you want to narrow down to an area of law that plays to your strengths. Here are a few areas to explore.
Legal engineers is another way to refer to tech lawyers. Legal engineers are experts in data governance. They take the complexities around data privacy laws and regulations and work with the IT team to make sure that the company is compliant.
This is a critical function because noncompliance can result in massive fines for companies.
Intellectual property is a big area for tech companies. Companies want to have an attorney that will protect their intellectual property from theft and knockoffs drowning the market. Canon just won a lawsuit against counterfeiters selling knockoff batteries on eBay.
IP law also entails licensing matters. Some companies license their technologies for sale and use. These agreements need to be negotiated.
International Tech Law
Data governance is much more complex at an international level. As governments are becoming more aware of data privacy issues,
The General Data Protection Regulation that was passed by the European Union requires that companies that target a European audience comply with the regulation.
In the U.S., states are beginning to pass their own data privacy laws and regulations. This will make compliance for any firm incredibly frustrating and complex.
Your job as an international tech lawyer is to stay up to date with tech laws around the world and understand how they impact your client.
Technology has impacted every industry and each industry is struggling to adapt.
For example, the financial and healthcare sectors have their own regulations for data privacy. You could become a specialist within a certain industry.
Pharmaceuticals, healthcare, financial, and retail sectors have a need for a tech lawyer.
Employment and Contracts Law
Tech companies are under a great amount of scrutiny over their hiring practices. These companies often rely on contractors to operate.
State governments are contending that many of these contractors are actually employees. California’s new law just went into effect and we’re just beginning to see the implications of that law.
You’ll need to advise companies whether or not their staff should be classified as employees or how they should work with contractors.
Best Cybersecurity Practices for Tech Lawyers
As a tech lawyer, you’re likely to represent large organizations that have extensive knowledge of emerging tech issues.
In a sense, there are high expectations from your clients to make sure that your own IT infrastructure is efficient and secure. It’s part of the process to build trust and to show that you understand technology issues well.
As your practice and reputation grow as a tech lawyer, you may become a target yourself for cyberattacks. You have to be on guard and make sure that your practice is protected. A data breach of any kind could be damaging and difficult to recover from.
Legal IT Services has an in-depth look at the tech issues that need your attention.
Are Your Ready to Take the Next Step in Your Legal Career?
There are a lot of exciting specializations in the legal field. One of the emerging specializations is to become a tech lawyer.
A tech lawyer can help companies across many different industries stay within compliance with data privacy regulations, which are always changing. They can also help protect intellectual property, mediate, and advise clients on employee classification issues.
The law has yet to catch up with the tech industry, making your job a critical part of any company.
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