What it Really Means to be a Tech Lawyer at Osborne Clarke

‘Forward thinking’, ‘technologically advanced’ and ‘digitally savvy’, but a few of the phrases quoted by trainees at Osborne Clarke to describe the firm in recent Lex 100 surveys. Far from just a marketing campaign, the international firm’s progressive nature is routinely lauded by clients and employees alike and pervades Osborne Clarke from top to bottom.

The fast pace of digital and technological advances means that the law governing this area has never been so important, and work is abundant. It is, therefore, hardly surprising that a growing number of aspiring solicitors are hoping to become ‘tech lawyers’.

Technology goes across all industry sectors and the scope to undertake technology-oriented work in a law firm is extremely broad. Osborne Clarke’s offering is particularly impressive.

‘What we do really well is pick certain sectors and focus on them’, explains Tom Harding, partner and head of the Bristol-headquartered firm’s Interactive Entertainment practice. ‘It’s all about the application of the law to those sectors; that’s where you really add value and interest to your client’.

Harding heads up Osborne Clarke’s Interactive Entertainment practice, and much of his work focuses on digital and consumer regulatory law, some of of the main challenges currently facing clients in this area. ‘If you download an app from iTunes, for example, the whole process is regulated and what rights and remedies you’ve then got in respect of that particular content is also heavily regulated. There’s a lot of focus on that at the moment, which means that it’s becoming more interesting to our clients’.

Harding’s team is currently advising a big client on its ‘digital transformation’ push. ‘The client doesn’t particularly sell things digitally at the moment so we’re advising on a huge, worldwide project about the design, build and rollout of their digital channels across 30 jurisdictions’. Other recent work includes advising on digital advertising and marketing campaigns, especially around the time of the 2018 football World Cup. ‘A lot of our clients were launching new online products and services and there was a lot of interest around what you could and couldn’t do’.

It’s clear that the work is exciting, thought-provoking and far from the black-letter law which is often taught in the classroom. ‘That’s exactly what I like about working at a technology-focused, digitally driven firm, as a lot of the work you’re doing is all new. We are pushing the boundaries of what the legal framework suggests. It’s far from boring’, enthuses Harding.

It’s not only clients who benefit from the firm’s progressive attitude. Osborne Clarke’s employees reap the rewards of working for an innovative law firm: ‘we try to implement our forward-thinking approach in the firm’s culture too, for example through new technology and through offering practices such as connected working’. This provision definitely does not go unnoticed, with staff from partners to trainees quick to praise the firm’s open, unstuffy culture.

So if you’ve decided that you want to be a tech lawyer, how do you go about making it a reality? Well, Harding’s background is a slightly different one to the say the least. ‘In a former life I used to be a DJ’, he says, ‘the point being that I’ve always liked media and technology and so when I decided to become a lawyer, that was always what I was going to do. Interactive entertainment fits in nicely with that because it’s digital, online and fast-moving, and that is what interests me’.

For those without a background on the Ibiza decks, showing an interest in and/or knowledge of the industry is absolutely vital, says Harding. ‘Demonstrate. Demonstrate why you really want to work in this area. Show the firm that you have a genuine passion for it. Don’t send out blanket applications to numerous firms. If you look at a firm and see that they’re doing something that you really want to be involved with, make that come across in your application. It will work wonders’.

Perseverance is key too: ‘when I applied for a training contract, I sent out 35 applications and got 33 rejections. Don’t give up!’

Osborne Clarke’s recruitment team look for a number of qualities in their candidates, it’s key that all candidates have the ability to listen and learn, a passion to help clients and an interest in the business environment. The firm is also looking for people with a team working ethos, a problem-solving approach and with a keen interest in the firms key sectors. Candidates who are interested in should apply for a vacation scheme placement as this offers individuals the opportunity to spend two weeks in the firm, experiencing first-hand what their lawyers do on a day-to-day basis.

The application process runs from 1 November 2019 – 15 January 2020. To find out more you can visit the website.