‘A Path to Tech Law’ 2017

After a very successful meeting in November, which Olivia Jean-Baptiste reflects on, SCL is moving forward with more student-focused events

On 29 November, SCL held its highly successful student-focused event ‘A Path to Tech Law’. It was an opportunity to help inform the choices of students who might be considering a career in tech law, designed to give them an insight into the realities of practice and tips on getting started in tech law. The event was generously hosted by Reed Smith and was chaired by SCL Trustee Mark Lumley from Shulmans LLP. The panel was made up of Chris James, Legal Director, DLA Piper (UK) LLP, Lucie Audibert, LSE LLB & McGill BCom Graduate, Junior Policy Officer at Internet & Jurisdiction, Winner, SCL Student Essay Prize 2016, Michael Butterworth, Tech & Outsourcing Associate at Fieldfisher, Lorraine Chimbga, Compliance Analyst, FundApps, recently designated Best Future International Lawyer 2017 by the AIJA, and Chris Marsden, Professor of Internet Law, University of Sussex. It was a sold-out event.

Olivia Jean-Baptiste has shared her impressions of that event, which we set out below, concluding with the phrase ‘I hope that there are more events such as these targeted specifically at students in the future’. Olivia has not had long to wait. SCL has arranged the SCL Student Tech Law Challenge 2018 to be held on Saturday 3 February 2018. The event is being held by the SCL Junior Lawyers’ Group at the University of Law and involves teams ‘living a day in the life of a tech lawyer’ – testing negotiating, presentation and decision-making skills. Bearing in mind that the last student-focused event sold out and the buzz which Olivia Jean-Baptiste reflects on below, students might well be encouraged to consider the event pretty urgently.

Olivia Jean-Baptiste writes:

As a law student, I have attended countless events at commercial firms but never one that has had a strong nexus to technology law, let alone one that offered an insight into finding ‘A Path to Tech Law’. The timing of this event, for me was serendipitous. As a second-year LLB law student I am not only figuring out which areas I would like to specialise in but also completing the daunting process of making and sending off applications for vacation schemes and training contracts. I was beginning to feel apprehensive about tech law and felt perhaps I should stick to a more ‘traditional’ area of law.

However, the first way in which the SCL event helped was confirming that I am in fact a suitable candidate for a technology-based career in law. I have always had an interest in technology and have been proactive in ensuring that this interest would be clear to potential employers. Event chair Mark Lumley, a SCL Trustee, listed some of the key qualities of tech lawyers which I felt matched my own strengths. These were curiosity, ‘an interest in what is coming next’ and ‘a passion for what they do’.

Moreover, one of the panellists, Lorraine Chimbga, a compliance analyst for a start-up called Fund Apps, made the point that you can sell your enthusiasm even if you’re not a tech expert. Ultimately, the panellists made clear that you do not have to know everything! You must simply show motivation and an interest. This is one of the reasons why events such as these are so helpful. They reignite a passion in committed students that they do have what it takes as long as they work hard to achieve it.

Motivation and determination are nothing without a way of being utilised: a clear plan. This is another way in which the SCL event was useful. While the Internet is a great resource for researching and learning about how to become involved in tech law, the opportunity to be face-to-face with current tech lawyers was invaluable.

I left with a more concrete plan on how to get into tech law and ways of broadening my knowledge. While you do not have to be an expert to succeed you cannot be complacent either. As Chris Marsden said ‘a little extra knowledge would always help’. The panellists stressed the importance of networking with practising lawyers and recommended reading Code 2.0 by Lawrence Lessig. Even something as simple as a book recommendation can put you a step closer to becoming a tech lawyer and finding what truly interests you.

To conclude, I am extremely grateful to SCL for this insightful event.  It was certainly worth braving the cold on a dark Wednesday evening for and I hope that there are more events such as these targeted specifically at students in the future.

Published: 2017-12-11T06:30:00