Technology Lawyers: What Exactly Are They?

Law is a near-timeless practice, with evidence for the existence of law codes existing as far back as ancient Mesopotamia, and for societal rules stemming back to the dawn of civilization. The spirit of the legislation and its enforcement has not changed much in thousands of years, though cultural shifts and new technologies have made their mark – from religions to the invention of the printing press. Today we stand at another crossroads in the history of law, as leaps in technology necessitate legislative understandings and response. This is where the technology lawyer comes in.

A Brief Definition

In essence, a technology lawyer is a lawyer who has a firm grasp of new and existing technologies, their implications to the wider world and their applications to legal cases – whether as a constituent part of cases in progress or a function of a field of expertise. A technology lawyer offers advice and counsel regarding new technological developments and innovations, leveraging their understanding of digital processes and tools to give legal guidance and also to inform their practice.

This can seem somewhat inscrutable as a definition, with technological innovation being such a wide-ranging term that could describe anything from new patents for commercial inventions to existential changes to online frameworks. Indeed, technology lawyers can diversify by focusing on specific fields and technologies, but this is the essential definition of a tech lawyer. With regard to larger, more complex innovations such as AI and blockchain, tech law firms can help navigate the legal ramifications of new processes, and create a cohesive strategy for implementing them societally – as well as make the most of the same technologies to improve their own practice.

Operating as a Digital Firm

Technology lawyers are the practicing face of a paradigm shift in the legal industry, as more and more firms revolutionize their infrastructure to herald a new technological age. Cloud-sharing platforms and collaborative working suites enable firms to work in a digital space, minimizing downtime from the paperwork on desks and in the postal system. Seamless integration with remote working technologies enables firms to become global, sharing documents, contracts, evidence, and information with clients, witnesses, and other firms internationally. Here, technological innovation applied to practices can inform and improve tech law’s response to innovation itself. As firms and organizations grow with and adopt new solutions, they are better placed to understand and interpret legislation on the same.

Challenges to Innovation in Law

The attitudinal change represents the biggest threat to innovation in the legal industry as a whole, as technology lawyers at the forefront of technological change often find themselves in opposition to pre-existing law firms with a long history in other fields. Older firms are less likely to respond well to technological innovation, with concerns that attempted implementation could cause irreversible issues with regard to databasing and workflow. Collaboration with older firms less inclined to adopt modern systems and practices can be difficult, railroading avenues for progress in specific cases to legacy programs and outdated modes of delivery.