Managing (and Enjoying) a Technology, IP, and Privacy Practice

An Interview with Smita Rajmohan

Bradan Thomas
One of the best ways to get involved and learn organically is to join networking organizations that focus on privacy and technology professionals.

One of the best ways to get involved and learn organically is to join networking organizations that focus on privacy and technology professionals.

gorodenkoff via iStock

A legal career in technology, IP, and privacy offers robust, rewarding practice opportunities for practitioners at any stage of their careers. From self-study to networking to in-house positions at a large corporation, read on to learn more about enhancing your career from an expert practicing in the field.

What is an IP and technology transactions practice?

The role of a lawyer practicing in the field of technology transactions is to make sure that all intellectual property assets—often the most valuable part of the deal—are protected in commercial agreements. As a technology transactions lawyer, you might be involved in drafting, negotiating, or reviewing the agreements that involve the sale or licensing of intellectual property to make sure that rights are properly granted and risks are fairly allocated.

How important is it for a technology lawyer to stay up to date on data privacy and data security laws?

Absolutely important! Data privacy and data security issues are becoming increasingly important and relevant to every lawyer’s playbook. Protecting IP and data through nondisclosure and licensing agreements prevents IP and data theft, which is a critical issue in present times. It is also essential for technology lawyers to effectively counsel their clients on the proper implementation of mechanisms that prevent unauthorized access of valuable assets and to keep abreast of the changing international landscape of data privacy.

What resources and networking tips would you recommend to a young lawyer looking for an introduction to technology and privacy laws?

One of the best ways to get involved and learn organically is to join networking organizations that focus on privacy and technology professionals. I am a member of the International Association of Privacy Professionals (IAPP), through which I have been fortunate to meet and learn from some great minds in the privacy space. Serving in leadership roles is another great way to find like-minded folks because it makes for an excellent recruitment and mentoring platform. I had a blast serving as a young privacy professional leader for the San Francisco Bay Area for the IAPP earlier in my career. Another organization I recommend is the Internet Law & Policy Foundry, of which I am a fellow. They have a great network of policy and legal professionals who publish great content on pressing issues.

What are the differences between practicing as an outside counsel and an in-house lawyer?

As outside counsel, you have a variety of clients with diverse legal issues. Depending on your firm and clientele, you may be working on a small part of a big transaction or taking on a client on your own to help them navigate IP issues. Outside counsel must juggle many clients and deadlines while keeping the various issues straight in their heads. As an in-house lawyer, you have a single client—your company—though you may also assist several internal clients and groups (e.g., engineers, business teams, sales). Further, as an in-house lawyer, you may or may not specialize in one substantive area of law. Sometimes product counsel will deal with a plethora of different issues in any given day, depending on the countless problems within their portfolios. The skillset from law firms to companies transfers easily, though—you learn to prioritize tasks and think about risk in a real-world, pragmatic way.

Do you have any other advice for young lawyers or law students thinking of pursuing a career in technology, IP, or privacy law?

Do it! It is a fast-paced, exciting field of law full of endless possibilities and challenges. I promise you will never be bored.

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Smita Rajmohan

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Smita Rajmohan is a product counsel at Apple in Cupertino, California. 

Bradan Thomas

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Bradan Thomas works in the public sector.