Continued from here

The IT lawyer needs to have more than a passing knowledge of Intellectual Property because the two fields are interwoven and the IT lawyer will always bump into issues surrounding registration and regulation of Domain Name Use, Trademark, Copyright, Website Content Use and Ownership rights etc. His knowledge of Privacy Law and Defamation must be up-to-date.

The IT lawyer must not be averse to the use of new technology and must in fact, acquire some knowledge of the practical use of some of these gadgets in order to have a proper understanding of the problems facing IT. Or how would he know the problems of the legality of P2P (Peer-to-peer file-sharing) when he has never heard of, let alone try to use, software such as Limewire, Emule and Napster? How would he tackle matters of Pornography on the Internet when he is not even familiar with the Internet? How would he know about legal issues being raised everyday about social networking sites such as Facebook, Hi5 and MySpace when he cannot even navigate around these sites? It goes beyond just knowing and being able to quote or apply the Law governing these issues! This is a novel area of Law that can only be ventured into by “Y2K-compliant” lawyers.

The IT lawyer must know how to use the Blackberry and respond to his emails on-the–go because his clients will be dealing with him on that level-like a netizen. The Blackberry has features that make online-chatting with other Blackberry-carrying clients and lawyers possible at no cost at all, thereby making communication with clients and colleagues very easy .Clients always want to develop the kind of intimacy and trust new technology available these days affords. Such intimacy is necessary in fiduciary relationships such as the lawyer-client relationship. The IT world is a very fast one and the IT lawyer must be able to cope with the speed otherwise he will be left bereft of ideas.

Which kind of lawyer is best suited to this field of practice? Any lawyer who is hungry for challenges in the legal field so much so that he is willing to contribute to the ever growing arsenal of ever-dynamic laws would do. This lawyer must be eager to explore new fields that present challenges in terms of legal complexity, terminology and legal impact.

He needs to acquire modern-age communication skills as he would be required to act as a middleman who understands technical mumbo-jumbo of the IT world and can translate it into (probably more technical) legal language. He must be able to interpret any of the contracts mentioned above in a language the client understands.

The IT lawyer has to learn about Competitive Intelligence (CI)-which addresses modes of obtaining information you can use to be more effective in competing for business and serving clients. Monitoring court filings for clients’ names, alerting them to a filing and sending a pleading beforehand is Competitive Intelligence. Clients appreciate such pro-activeness and would gladly recommend you to others If this habit is cultivated.

There are thus CI tools which many are already familiar with. The first is email alerts such as Google alerts which alert the subscriber on everything that happens in the field the subscriber is interested in and thus subscribed to. Another type of free alert tool is the RSS feed. RSS stands for really simple syndication. RSS feeds are a way to have items from frequently updated sites (like blogs-topic for another day) delivered to you without the need for visiting those sites individually. These are tools that help the IT lawyer work smarter and quicker, and invariably put him ahead of the pack.

If you have noticed, this article is not just about how to become an IT Law specialist, it equally is about how the lawyer’s work can be done more effectively with the aid of modern technology. The argument is that, as technology grows, the profession too should grow along with it. According to Richard Susskind, a foremost IT Law expert who wrote the ground-breaking book “The Future of Law”:

“The challenge I lay down is for lawyers to ask themselves, with hands on hearts, what elements of their workload could be undertaken differently—more quickly, cheaply, efficiently or to a higher quality—using different methods of working”?.

In other words, as the Times puts it, “what are the core indispensable legal skills lawyers have and what can be replaced by less costly workers supported by technology or by lay people armed with online self-help tools?” I say, the answer lies with me and you. Either way, whether you specialize in the practice of IT Law or you are IT-compliant as a lawyer, you are an IT Law practitioner. Just cooperate with technology as it advances and you will always be on top of your game.

By Seun Idowu

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