A rising demand for IT lawyers

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IT is now an integral part of our lives and are increasingly becoming an undeniable must-have for companies, whether they are start-ups, government-linked companies (GLCs) or multinational companies (MNCs). Recent developments in e-Commerce, online marketplaces, fintech, blockchain, mobile apps and social media has only accelerated the growth of tech and driven the need for IT lawyers.

EuJinn Teo, consultant in the legal team at Robert Walters Malaysia, sheds some light on the benefits IT lawyers bring to businesses. 

What a specialised IT lawyer does

The typical perception is that an IT lawyer is normally dual qualified, with an LLB and an IT degree for example. However, this is not always the case even though having the latter qualification could be an added advantage. Typically, an IT lawyer’s job scope covers, amongst others, the following areas:

  • corporate & commercial
  • intellectual property, data privacy & protection
  • litigation/disputes
  • regulatory & policy compliance
  • block chain technology - commercial procedure of construction of blockchain and mobile applications, crowdfunding and various compliance requirements and/or limitations
     

Benefits of having a specialised IT lawyer:

IT start-ups

Due to the growth of the industry, we see a wider range of work being covered by IT lawyers, especially when it comes to IT start-up companies. Generally, the end-to-end legal services rendered can be summarised as below:

  • Pre-launch
    • Commercial, regulatory & business requirements
    • Structure/type of company & business structure
    • Licensing and permit requirements
    • Contracts drafting
       
  • Interim
    • Ownership of rights
    • Privacy & competition law requirements
       
  • Post-launch
    • Corporate & commercial advisory
    • Further investment transactions
    • Proper advertising and marketing procedure & requirements
       

Private practice

  • An opportunity to establish a new department/practice group to further expand firm's business
  • A great opportunity to groom junior lawyers to become subject matters experts
  • Better synergy and collaboration between practice groups where different expertise would be required

     

In-house (outside IT start-ups)

  • Possibility of pioneering the development of various digitalisation of companies' businesses, e.g. start-ups and financial institutions and the "go-to" person in rendering legal solutions in light of the rapidly changing IT and digital landscape
  • Key person in  structuring and boosting the business of the company


The IT industry is undeniably an emerging market - growth is limitless, and the demand will only escalate as time passes by. For companies which are considering hiring IT lawyers, it is good to begin the search early as there is often a shortage of good talent given the niche skill sets required.

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