This article has been written by Ishaan Banerjee, studying in Vivekananda Institute of Professional Studies, affiliated to Guru Gobind Singh Indraprastha University and Anindita Deb, a student of Symbiosis Law School, NOIDA. This article gives a brief introduction to technology law and its practice.
Technology law is a fast emerging area of law. It is bound to be one of the most lucrative areas of law in the years to come. With the continuous evolution of technology, many new avenues for practising law have begun to come up. Be it artificial intelligence (AI), intellectual property or data protection, all these areas will be lucrative in the coming years. In this article, we will explore the wide ambit and applicability of technology law, along with exploring the top 20 law firms already engaged in the technology law practice in India.
What exactly is technology law?
As the term suggests, technology law is the law relating to the use of technology. It helps to regulate the use and advancement of technology. Technology surrounds us and is present in almost every aspect of our lives. Therefore, technology law is something which is not confined to a particular area. Has an unknown person on social media has obtained your pictures to which he did not have access? Has the patent for your new product been infringed by a competitor? Are your phone lines being tapped? Say hello to technology law. Thus, technology lawyers need to have a wide area of expertise which may include many other different types of law like intellectual property rights, cyber law, information technology, artificial intelligence and even environmental law. This is exactly why technology law will be a very lucrative area of practice, because as technology evolves, the scope of technology law also expands.
What career opportunities does one have under technology law?
Technology law is a fast emerging area but it also demands a lot of skills from a lawyer. A technology lawyer must be having skills like drafting software and hardware related contracts, policy making, strategising, risk assessment etc. A technology lawyer would also need to stay updated with the latest technology developments. A technology lawyer can work in:
- Technology contract drafting and negotiation: A technology lawyer must know how to draft contracts like Software licensing agreement, Outsourcing agreement, Standard distributor licensing agreement, which are commonly used in technology companies. Not only this, he must know how to incorporate clauses and draft special contracts specific to the technology industry, along with negotiating deals.
- Managing IP portfolio: Technology lawyers must learn to manage their IP portfolio, as they would have to see that the patented or patentable technology does not leak to competitors.Thus, they have to work fast to procure patents for the new technologies or softwares used in companies.They have to know how to mitigate the damage and defend clients from competitors’ suits regarding patents. They would also have to introduce policies to prevent unauthorised usage.
- Assessing and managing risks: A lawyer must be smart enough to have an idea of the present and the potential risks to the company. He must have an idea about the future of the technology sector and must be cautious to defend the company from potential risks. He must keep up with the developments in technology law; and be updated regarding governmental regulations, judicial pronouncements and the policies of competitors, and must know how to manage the risks arising from there.
- Policy making and implementation: Technology lawyers need to understand the policy making process in an organisation like government bodies, companies, etc. In order to know about potential risks and avert them, policy making is important as it would provide certain guidelines for what the organisation would do in a particular situation. Is your company being sued for infringement of data privacy? How would a technology lawyer deal with this? The next step of action will be dictated by the policy.
- Litigation and dispute resolution: It is obvious that with evolving technology, the number of laws and disputes relating to it would increase with time. The top challenge with litigating in technology related disputes would be explaining to the judge what exactly is the technology and how it works. This would enable the judge to understand the facts, circumstances and reasons under which the dispute has occurred.
Now that you must have an idea of the practise of technology law in India, let us now proceed to the list of the top 20 technology law firms in India. Please note that this list is only suggestive and not a firm statement.
Top 20 technology law firms in India
- Highly rated as one of the best law firms in the country, Trilegal has established its dominance in a short period of time. It has a wide range of practice areas ,including the areas of corporate, competition law, international capital markets, real estate etc.
- It was ranked as one of the top 10 most innovative law firms in APAC by FT- Asia-Pacific Innovative Lawyers and among the top 5 law firms in India by RSG India.
- It has one of the oldest technology law practices in the country, and has deep experience in working with companies across different sectors. They have also worked on policy formulation which includes the data protection law. It has helped the Aeronautical Development Agency with commercialising the technology software used for creating materials for aircraft fabrication and Hewlett Packard to structure their telecom system integration service.
- The technology team of this firm is highly reputed, which helps clients to formulate strategies to get full use out of their intellectual property rights and also helps in value assessments. They have good experience in drafting technology and intellectual property rights related contracts. They have also worked on data protection as well.
- The firm has an impressive clientele, boasting the likes of eBay, Flipkart, Amazon, Visa etc.
- It regularly finds its name among the Tier 1 law firms of India, including in the technology, Media and Telecom sector. The firm has frequently instructed clients on regulatory and transactional projects, often across the world.
- They have clients like Saavn, Wal-Mart, Whatsapp, Uber and Facebook Ireland etc.
- An example of a famed member of the team is Tejas Karia, who has been involved in Supreme Court cases regarding the provision of online content, which also included Facebook and Whatsapp as parties.
- L&L Partners practises in both conventional and non conventional areas of law with focus on building lasting client relationships and offering exceptional legal advice. The firm has advised many national and international clients like Goldman Sachs, ICICI Bank, Yahoo, the Tata Group and others.
- The firm has a wide practice area including but not limited to TMT(Technology, Media, Telecom), dispute resolution, pro bono work, mining, oil and gas etc.
- The technology practice is known for joint venture work. The firm recently assisted ANI Technologies with its licensing agreements of the ‘OLA Play’ feature.
- The firm specialises in structuring transactions in the technology sector in India. They also advise on regulatory and commercial contracting matters, along with representing clients before the relevant authorities.
- It has a diverse clientele across diverse service sectors such as online and offline gambling, IT, mobile and fixed line telecom operators, outsourcing etc.
- Kochhar & Co. has both national and international offices in Dubai, Atlanta and Jeddah. The firm has hardcore expertise in cloud computing, data privacy, e- commerce. They have also helped the telecom sector in bandwidth structuring and VoIP implementation.
- The TMT team has had some amazing victories over the past years. It assisted the Alibaba Group in setting up a cloud computing system and advised Akamai on cloud computing and data privacy.
- Mr. Stephen Mathias, the head of the TMT department, is specially known for his specialisation in technology related matters such as IT outsourcing, data privacy and cloud computing.
- The firm has a well reputed technology law practice. They advised Bharti Airtel on transactions and also helped Google to set up its mobile payment service in India.
- This is one of the big law firms in India,and it has expertise in issues such as net neutrality, IoT (Internet of Things) etc and advises clients across a wide range of sectors such as healthcare, food technology, gaming, education, AI etc.
- It has been often involved in the Telecom sector, drafting commercial contracts and advising them on compliance and regulatory issues.
- The firm offers outstanding practice in a range of areas including the technology sector. It has an impressive clientele among blue chip IT and telecom corporations.
- The firm is respected for its quality of service and has frequently received great feedback from its clients.
- Some legal stalwarts include: Asim Abbas, who is a specialist in TRAI (Telecom Regulatory Authority of India) policy with astounding industry knowledge and Sajai Singh, a highly experienced member of the firm with complex technology related matters.
- It is a full service law firm based in Mumbai. The technology industry boom has helped the firm to build its capacity in recent years. It has advised on matters such as gaming, music and entertainment, sports, advertising etc.
- The firm especially has great experience in the film and entertainment industry as it has got to deal with clients that include major production houses including Hollywood studios, Indian Broadcasting Federation, Producers Guild, IFTPC (Indian Film and TV Producers Council) on relevant issues.
- The multi disciplinary team is recognised for their work in various industries like biotechnology, e-commerce, m-commerce. The firm has a speciality in identifying new material for patents and copyrights that will play a huge role in the generations to come.
- The firm’s clients include startups, technology developers, consultants; all of them are using technology to develop their business and need some help to fully utilise their technologies.
- The firm frequently advises investors and technology companies on transactional and regulatory matters.
- The technology practice advises on commerce and electronic data interchange advice, cloud based delivery of software, drafting and negotiating contracts, privacy and data protection etc.
- This firm advises a lot on telecom related matters, having clients which include major software and media companies. The firm has become adept at advising data and connection services.
- Media companies have also approached this firm for drafting and negotiating broadcasting and endorsement contracts, along with arranging joint ventures between these companies.
- This firm is fast emerging as one of the major competitors in technology law. It specialises in technology startups and investors, IT outsourcing, data protection, software licensing etc.
- Clients have praised the firm as being very ‘solution driven’ and an in depth understanding of business needs and interests.
- The firm recently advised Punjab and Maharashtra Co-operative Bank on the licensing and service contracts of its technology suite.
- This firm is relatively newer, having been set up in 2016, but it has since then, built up a reputable practice.This firm is led by Salman Waris and has some very impressive clients.
- The firm has dealt with clients like Voxbone, a Belgian company which provides IP communication services, American health company Quintiles IMS Holdings and ZTE.
- This will be one of the topmost and sought after law firms in the technology sector in the coming years. This firm has already been sought out by clients who seek advice on unexplored areas like drones and aerospace. The firm also has experience in cryptocurrencies and digital assets, among many others.
- The firm advised four digital assets exchanges before the Supreme Court, challenging the Indian Central Bank directive to cancel the digital assets access to banking services.
- The firm also advised a leading social media company on its policies for dealing with fake news. It also assisted Dvara Research in drafting and submitting a draft of the Data Protection Bill to the Justice B.N Srikrishna Committee.
- Founded in 2006, and having offices in New Delhi, Mumbai, Bengaluru and Kochi. This firm has been working with eight banks on matters like AI, data protection,blockchain and regulation.
- International clients include leading international law firms such as Dentons and Sheppard Mullin. The clients have given great feedback, with some emphasising on their expertise on cyber law and their keenness on being updated on technology.
- The firm practices on areas like telecom, data protection and privacy, e-commerce and IoT, advising on law, due diligence, investment structuring etc.
- The firm attracts clients from technology sectors such as Shell India Markets Private Limited, Wipro, World Wide Technology etc.
- The firm is involved with the industries of aerospace and defense, media, telecommunications, banks, financial services etc.
- Recognised for undertaking transactional work for technology companies like outsourcing, acquisition of IP aspects and M&A. Also advises on cloud computing matters and data protection and AI.
- The firm is famed for giving practical advice and is known to be very reliable.
- The firm recently advised on Kwench Global Technologies on data protection, reviewing privacy policies, in compliance with GDPR and data protection compliances.
- Highly acknowledged as an IP specialist firm, it is bursting onto the technology front as well. It offers expertise in litigation, counterfeiting, mergers and acquisitions.
- Client following include media companies and major publishing houses.
- The firm has handled corporate, transactional, regulatory, service agreements and policies and also advises on cybersecurity and data protection.
- It advised Manthan Software Services on the implications of GDPR on its contracts from an Indian market perspective.
- Harish Narasappa is particularly recognised for his abilities and niche in the TMT sector and his experience in dealing with startups.
Leading global technology law firms
Fish & Richardson P.C.
At Fish & Richardson, intellectual property is paramount, so be prepared to brag about your technical or scientific expertise during interviews. Associates here are kept busy, but they benefit from a wonderful atmosphere, excellent IP work, and a lot of freedom. The firm focuses on IP litigation and counselling, as well as post-grant matters, although the list of sectors it services reflects its diversity. Fish has clients in a variety of industries, including biotechnology, energy, clean technology, consumer products, financial services, aerospace and defence, new media, manufacturing, pharmaceuticals, and telecommunications.
Cooley is the go-to firm for startups and early-stage enterprises, and it’s great for individuals looking to work on cutting-edge projects with forward-thinking clients. The firm has a strong commitment to diversity and inclusion, as well as a very sociable culture that will no doubt appeal to affable personalities. Cooley is identified with technology and venture capital work, with over 1,200 lawyers working across the United States, Europe, and Asia. The firm’s cleantech, cyber/data/privacy, IP, M&A, private equity, and securities practises are also well-regarded.
Kirkland & Ellis
Kirkland is the ideal firm for self-starters who are ready to take control of their legal careers, both in terms of size and reputation. Associates at the firm agree that their prospects are bright because of the firm’s extensive training and the firm’s name on their resumes. Kirkland & Ellis is a global legal company that specialises in corporate, intellectual property, litigation, Mergers and Acquisitions, private equity, and restructuring. The firm is consistently ranked as one of the most successful in the world, with over 2,900 lawyers.
Morrison & Foerster LLP
At MoFo, excellent work is expected, but the firm—and its lawyers—don’t take themselves too seriously, as the name suggests. MoFo specialises in a variety of practice areas, including intellectual property and privacy, and is a standout in the pro bono community, assisting in a variety of situations. MoFo’s experience in IP, finance, life sciences, technology, and litigation is complemented by a global reach that spans the Pacific Rim and, more recently, Europe.
Wilson Sonsini is a go-to firm for customers in the tech industry, as a pioneer in venture capital work and a top-ranked firm for intellectual property. The firm’s lawyers have an entrepreneurial mindset and strike a good balance between hard work and friendliness. Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati is a worldwide player with extensive tech roots, with 950 attorneys spread over 16 offices around the world. The firm has established itself as a market leader in technology licensing, technological financings and M&A, and intellectual property.
To work with its inventive client base, Fenwick is looking for tech-oriented, entrepreneurial types that live on autonomy and flexibility. Associates who go above and beyond are rewarded here, with trips to the tropics being a common occurrence. Fenwick has almost 500 attorneys spread across seven offices and is noted for its innovative work with technology and life sciences clients. With three successful offices in California, an established office in Seattle, a fast-growing office in New York, an international office in China, and a newly opened office in Washington, DC, the firm has expanded beyond its Silicon Valley beginnings.
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