SCL has a new Chair. Clive Davies has taken over the role fulfilled by Bill Jones for the last four years. Laurence Eastham spoke to Clive about his plans and hopes for SCL.
Clive Davies has been a trustee of SCL for five years. In January, he became SCL’s Chair. Clive is a senior counsel with Fujitsu Services, advising on major service contracts with customers especially in the public sector. Prior to joining Fujitsu in 2007, Clive was the lead IT and outsourcing partner at D J Freeman, for 13 years, and then at Olswang for four years. He had more than ten years’ experience as an industry lawyer before joining D J Freeman in 1990.
Clive said he was delighted to accept the post of Chair and paid a fulsome tribute to the work done by Bill Jones as Chair. He was keen too to acknowledge the fact that, as Chair, he was primus inter pares:
‘Bill Jones did a really great job and it is good to step into the position of Chair when things are going so well. We have a great set of active trustees, with a terrific range of experience, perspective and interests, drawn from private practice, industry and the Bar. I see my main role as channeling the energy and ideas that come out from my fellow trustees. But I also want to use my initial period as Chair to listen carefully to what SCL members want and to take members’ ideas back to my fellow trustees to find ways to put them into action. It has proved perennially challenging for trustees of an organisation like SCL to look beyond the day-to-day pressures and consider the organisation’s strategy but I am very conscious that we need to do this. Fortunately the administration of SCL works so well under Ruth Baker, Caroline Gould and the rest of the team in Bristol that we are usually offered solutions rather than just being presented with problems and that opens up our options to look at the broader effects of brave new technologies and developments in IT legal practice on SCL.’
I asked Clive about his in-house position and his long-standing interest in involving more in-house lawyers in SCL:
‘I am the first SCL Chair who is in a current in-house position. I want to encourage the realisation of the value of SCL to lawyers in industry. I believe that there is an opportunity to recruit more members from industry. My experience of working as an in-house lawyer and with lawyers in IT companies suggests that they often feel a sense of isolation and seek opportunities to meet fellow IT lawyers; many would welcome the chance to feel part of the IT legal community and SCL offers them that opportunity.’
I invited Clive to comment on the increasing penetration of what were once specialist IT law issues into the mainstream of commercial practice. He takes the view that there is still a very important role for the true expert:
‘You have to understand the technical side to grasp the legal issues; good technology lawyers of all kinds have a genuine interest in the underlying technology. Cloud computing is a good example of this – once you grasp how it works, the legal issues become clearer. While all practising commercial lawyers now do have some exposure to IT and some understanding of IT law, the difference between the experts and the rest becomes most clear as new areas of technology evolve. Those with the deeper expertise and understanding of the underlying technology are best equipped to deal with emerging technologies. Fortunately for IT law specialists, the field in which they operate is constantly refreshed by such new technology and the resulting new legal issues so I see a continuing future for the specialist IT lawyer.
This constant change puts an extra burden on SCL and its trustees. For example, we now have to address communications law and content issues because they have become enmeshed in the practice of IT law in addition to the more traditional fields such as IT contracting.’
Clive expressed particular pleasure at the way in which the SCL Conference had become ‘revitalised’ with a themed approach each year:
‘What I like about the SCL Conference is that it is more than law. It helps provide the wherewithal to be an IT lawyer. We provide added value there – it is not just talks about the law but about how to practise the law. I think this is one of SCL’s special characteristics – the focus on practical applications imbues all events and publications and gives enormous added value to members.’