Mark O’Conor reflects on SCL’s activities and looks forward to the forthcoming SCL Conference
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 Conference 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 Conference to sate my own curiosity and I hope to see as many members as possible who are there to do the same.