Put simply…

Technology, media and telecommunications law (TMT) deals with the movement of communications across various different platforms, whether it’s television, print, the internet or mobile devices.

TMT lawyers are at the fast end of a quickly evolving area of law. If you get your kicks from new technology and the changing world around us, then TMT could offer you a great opportunity.

What does TMT law involve?

Legal services in the TMT sector include: providing advice on the licensing of software and hardware and outsourcing arrangements. A lot of work focuses on new media and technology developments, such as the internet, mobile telephony, data protection and privacy laws, e-commerce issues and fraud prevention.

With the rise of the internet giants, such as Google, Facebook, AllAboutCareers and Youtube, TMT is the area of law that is arguably undergoing the biggest boom. The phenomenal growth of the internet and cutting-edge next-generation technologies means that work is constantly piling in. As the world continues to move onto the internet in ever greater waves, this sector will only continue to expand.

With the development of the mobile phone and broadband internet, governments, institutions and companies are now investing in technology more than ever. This is definitely an exciting area of law to be associated with!

What does a TMT lawyer do?

A typical working week for a TMT solicitor will involve advising and drafting agreements on new business, contractual work for new projects, licensing and rights distribution. They might assist with advertising, marketing plans and commercial launches too.

Outsourcing is not uncommon in TMT, where lawyers will often be tasked with things like completing due diligence checks on the outsourcing partner, preparing and reviewing draft agreements, protection clauses and the rights and obligations of both parties.

The biggest attraction of outsourcing is the movement of I.T. functions and technical support to countries where business costs are lower and a qualified workforce is available at a cheaper rate. Consequently, TMT lawyers need to be familiar with business laws and regulations in several jurisdictions.

A TMT lawyer in e-commerce will focus on providing legal advice for clients that are setting up websites and online payment systems. Data security and the protection of content within the website are of paramount importance for these types of organisation.

What makes a good TMT lawyer?

A TMT lawyer needs to have in-depth knowledge of the technology and media industries and must be up-to-date on the latest developments and innovations. A decent knowledge of industry-specific terminology is also necessary.

Strong communication and negotiation skills are required. Furthermore, they will need to have excellent knowledge of commercial and corporate law. Enthusiasm and an appetite for new challenges is essential. 

A day in the life of Sabba Mahmood, CIPP/E, senior associate, Fieldfisher 

 What’s the first thing you do when you get into the office? 

Depending on my workload, my day will start anytime between 8 and 9am. The first thing I normally do is make myself a cup of tea and then go through the overnight and early morning emails while making my to-do list for the day.

How do you handle and organise/prioritise your workload? 

Due to the fact that a new law has recently come into force (the General Data Protection Regulation), our clients have all been working towards one deadline, therefore, I have been dealing with conflicting deadlines and priorities on a daily basis.

When organising and prioritising your workload, the key thing is to manage client expectations. This is important to ensure that they receive the best service and good-quality work. As an associate working for several directors and partners, it is important to manage the expectations of your team members and to communicate with them if you have conflicting priorities. The to-do list that I write up first thing in the morning helps with prioritising my workload.

What sort of daily responsibilities does an associate have in technology, outsourcing and privacy law? How does it differ from a trainee role?

The main responsibilities of an associate in technology, outsourcing and privacy law are delivering high-quality advice on time, managing client accounts and being the “go-to associate” for the client, working on fee estimates and proposals for clients, working on business development initiatives, and working on training and development.

At Fieldfisher, we encourage trainees to get involved in all of the above tasks, although trainees are more likely to focus on delivering the work and learning the law rather than providing fee estimates and proposals to clients.

Can you give us an idea of the sort of projects you manage from day to day?

It sounds like a cliché but no work day is the same! You may work on project-based work or very technical pieces of legal advice. Currently, my projects range from advising a client on a data security breach, to advising a client on a variety of consumer complaints where consumers have exercised their rights under data protection law, to advising a client on the various aspects of a GDPR compliance project.

What sorts of clients do you generally deal with on a day-to-day basis? 

A real mix. Power developers and generators, lenders, government or quasi-government counterparties, buyers and sellers, investment managers and entrepreneurs. I tend to work on a number of different matters at any one time, so there is normally a good variety of clients and roles.

How do you keep up to date with all the developments in the technology sector?

Clients will expect you to be up to speed with the latest developments in the law—in fact, some are very good at keeping on top of the latest developments themselves! With a busy work day and various commitments, this can be challenging and can be easily neglected. I sign up to various internal and external news sources. We also have a weekly team meeting where we dedicate time to discuss recent legal developments and have emails circulating between our team sharing knowledge from publications that people have read and events that they have attended.