It is all about the data
“Data is the new oil,” said one IT lawyer recently by way of summing up its importance for IT departments. At boutiques as well as transaction-driven big firms, developments in data protection are increasingly at the center of things. The most important step towards unity of the European data protection laws may be the new data protection regulations which, after many years of discussion, should come into effect by the end of 2015. Because of the high penalties involved, companies are increasingly prepared to invest in the correct handling of data. This applies not only to data security, but also to the question of how to make money off of big data.
The Federal German Cabinet’s ruling on IT security law at the end of 2014 is also about transparent data handling and is supposed to touch on all facets of the upcoming EU regulations. IT litigation takes a backseat to data protection at most firms these days, but at the same time these cases are also gaining significance. “The claims have gotten higher,” said one IT lawyer. On the other hand, outsourcing advice has not experienced any growth over the past year.
IT practices play various roles
In today’s more diverse market, transaction-driven large firms where IT-specific expertise is a must for M&A include: Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer, Clifford Chance and Latham & Watkins. They all report an increase in technology-related transactions but have different strategies for positioning their IT practices within the firms: Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer divided its IT practice into corporate and litigation in 2013, while Latham & Watkins is operating for the first time without an IT partner following the departure of Dr. Ulrich Wuermeling. Meanwhile, Clifford continues to invest in its own IT practice.
IT practices have a more central and independent role at firms focusing more on the technology sector, such as Noerr, Baker & McKenzie, Bird & Bird, Osborne Clarke and Taylor Wessing. In addition to their many years of experience in data protection, these firms can draw on their sector-specific expertise in subjects like big data and e-commerce. The IT practices at Taylor Wessing, DLA Piper and especially White & Case stood out recently for exploiting synergies from their international networks.
Boutiques going head-to-head with large firms in specialist issues
Gleiss Lutz, Reed Smith and TCI Rechtsanwälte are profiting from increased litigation. As specialized boutiques, TCI Rechtsanwälte, SSW Schneider Schiffer Weihermüller and Vogel & Partner can compete with large firms in their niche areas. Their success lies in distinctive expertise in interfacing areas. For specialist issues that do not require large teams, they are in just the right position.
On the one hand, this chapter deals with stand-alone IT law consisting of contracts and litigation (systems implementation, software licensing and development contracts, as well as distribution, antitrust and unfair competition law), in which data protection, IT security, compliance and IT procurement play a role.
On the other hand, transaction-driven work – incl. outsourcing deals and business process outsourcing, as well as transaction support – also forms a central part of the chapter. The rankings, which are subdivided into stand-alone (contracts and litigation) and transaction-driven work (incl. outsourcing), clarify the relative positioning of the law firms.
Since ?trademarks and unfair competition and ?distribution law regularly play a role in IT matters, the reader is also advised to consult these chapters. For offices with a focus on the ?media sector, advice on the interface with media and telecommunications – particularly in connection with the Internet and the convergence of content and technology – is all part of day-to-day business. An overview of firms with interdisciplinary teams, which advise on internal investigations and setting up compliance, can be found in the chapter ?compliance audits and investigations.
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