Scoping Exercise

September 5, 2018

Over the past year, SCL members may well be forgiven for
thinking that there is nothing more to being a tech lawyer than knowing what
the GDPR says and in which section it says it. I’m aware that is probably an
inaccurate cliché but it does feel that with implementation now firmly behind
us, indeed a whole World Cup away, we have more time to scan the wider tech law
horizons again. When we do, we see the remarkably broad scope of the tech law
world and how the issues we engage with are fundamental to a functioning
society today.

This really hit home when I read through the finalised
programme for our Annual
on 27 September. The line-up features sessions that will cover
AI, blockchain, adtech and digital transformation of the courts – to cherry-pick
just a few. Each of these topics is potentially disruptive, fast-moving and a
cultivator for complex legal challenges: for our clients, for our own legal
practices and even, as we have seen through the Cambridge Analytica fall-out,
for the way democratic society operates.

Of course these are not the only topics that we tech lawyers
are grappling with. This year’s conference will feature a series of ten-minute
flash talks covering the key points of diverse issues such as quantum computing
or copyright in computer-generated content. Away from the conference a quick
look at what we have published over the past few months shows news, analysis
and case reports touching on intellectual property, what happens when IT
projects go wrong and understanding the limits of data and criminal disclosure
to name just a few.

I know that most of us don’t deal with all these issues on
an individual level but the wide range of interests we cover is part of the fun
of working within tech law. At our core we are a community interested in how
technology is challenging both long-standing legal concepts, some of them in a
fundamental way, and how we practice the law on a daily basis (for
example see the forthcoming First
International Forum on Online Courts
on 3 and 4 December).

That curiosity is evident in what we publish, what our
training courses teach us and the conversations we have when we meet each
other. I’ll be at the Annual
to sate my own curiosity and I hope to see as many members as
possible who are there to do the same.