The Impact of Changing Economic Cycles on the Practice of IT Law

Laurence Eastham previews the SCL Conference 2009 – unrivalled content and a credit-crunch busting price.

IT lawyers are rarely foolish enough to think that their practice is divorced from economic realities. Indeed all the best IT lawyers are known for their ability to balance the legal requirements, the overwhelming necessities of commercial life and the huge unstoppable forces of technological changes. Keeping that balance is crucial to avoid the dreaded ‘deal-breaker’ tag and to maintaining credibility with clients (internal and external). Ensuring that all the balancing forces are reflected in your own and your firm’s practice is the key to profitability and credibility.

It is therefore appropriate that this year’s SCL Conference focuses on the business of IT law and looks well beyond new legal developments to consider the wider impact of the changes in the economies of the world and the special impact of those changes on technology businesses. That impact has no less force when it collides with the practice of IT law.

Here are just three examples of the wider factors that affect IT lawyers:

  • Internet trading has shown itself to be durable and, increasingly, the channel of choice for many consumers. E-commerce has shown consistent growth when the traditional high street has suffered record levels of insolvency. What does that mean for large organisations built on a ‘clicks and mortar’ set of assumptions?
  • The downturn may favour outsourcing as a cost saving business model, but will unexpected events like the Mumbai terror attack lead clients to postpone or even to put off doing some deals at all? Will public sentiment about employment protection in the UK also affect the outlook for outsourcing? And might technological and economic developments change the balance completely?
  • In dispute resolution, will we find that customers and suppliers in the IT sector sue each other more or will they settle differences more quickly driven by the need to save costs?

Economic and political change is a stimulus for change both in the law itself and in business practices. In a challenging environment, it is vital to equip yourself to prevent the challenge from becoming a threat. This conference will evaluate the consequences for IT lawyers of economic and technological change (good and bad) and debate how best to adapt our practices and the law to changing economic times.

Sessions on first day of the Conference will include (i) economic analysis of technology markets, examining the history and the identifiable trends, (ii) outsourcing contracts, (iii) government contracts in the age of the high-profile public audit and (iv) fraud – is it the iceberg in IT waters? Day 2 moves to a more forward-thinking agenda with a look at ‘the Susskind challenge’, IP as a driver for technological advance and cloud computing.

On top of all this will be the unrivalled networking opportunities that the overnight stay encourages, a large chunk of CPD and a stay in one of Britain’s most beautiful cities. Although SCL has been a frequent visitor to Bath, this is its first visit there since the new Thermae Bath Spa opened (it gets my recommendation) but the city’s history and charm bear repeat visits in any event.

And it is worth remarking that, looking at rival events by comparison, the SCL Conference is offering fantastic value at just £495 plus VAT for the early bird booking.

View the conference programme here

Published: 2009-06-29T11:13:09

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