In contrast to many other industry sectors, tech companies, especially those related with information technology show no signs of stopping or slowing down. The recent overwhelming response to Facebook’s IPO is an indicator, and the need of lawyers in such companies is amply proved by the multitude of litigations between tech giants. While every tech company requires lawyers in traditional roles, as required by other businesses, the principal focus is on internationalizations, Intellectual property law, drafting of terms of service, contracts, patent acquisition, patent filing, copyright protection, copyright litigation and others on top of compliance requirements of SEC and other bodies.
In tech companies day-to-day work of lawyers involve protection of brands and patents. Scrutiny and drafting of every bit of published material ranging from Terms of Service to advertisements is expected of in-house lawyers. In-house lawyers in tech companies also need to interact with external law firms for litigation purposes generally involving IP law or contracts.
Common designations of in-house lawyers at tech companies include IP-Litigation Attorney, Licensing & Technology Transactions Attorney, Technology Transaction Attorney, Patent Attorney, Regulatory/Compliance Attorney etcetera. According to the nature of their businesses, most technology companies also need in-house lawyers in the positions of Export Compliance Attorney, Corporate & Securities Attorney and positions dealing with regulations and requirements of regular business functions. All or most of these positions are also available from beginner to senior levels, and it is often to find in-house lawyers at tech companies in positions overseeing IP Strategy and Transactions.
The recent trend in the legal market shows that IP litigation and IP related work is booming in comparison to other legal fields. There are in-house lawyer openings in tech companies for Patent Prosecution Attorneys on a regular basis as well as for in-house lawyers who specialize in mergers and acquisitions. Of course, technology companies still need help in finance and compliance so, positions as Finance & Securities Attorneys or Health Care, Regulatory & Compliance Attorneys are also available.
In-house lawyers in tech companies are especially focused on patent law and positions ranging from Patent Associates through Patent Licensing Attorney to Senior IP Counsel are encountered on an everyday basis in tech companies.
Usually, in-house positions in big companies require additional technical degrees on top of legal specializations in patent law.
Usually a B.S. or higher in a specific stream of academic or industrial discipline is a must. Most openings are in Fortune 500 companies, so pay and environment is quite acceptable.
Ideally, in-house lawyers in tech companies are required to have a good technical background, and expected to be registered with the USPTO and possessing experience in complex transactions over technology. Usual transactions, besides conventional litigation includes licensing, joint-development, patent portfolio acquisitions and so on and so forth. In-house lawyers in tech companies are expected to be not only conversant with the latest technology and gadgets, but also have a fondness for technical things.
According to the nature of the tech company the area of additional expertise in in-house lawyer positions
is defined. A Pharma company developing new bio-technologies would need a lawyer conversant with biotechnology or medical devices, whereas a computer company that deals with knowledge and services in information technology may need lawyers who are aware of different international laws, censorship and IP laws of different countries and processes through which international disputes may be resolved or claims filed.
Regardless of the label of the designation, an in-house lawyer in a tech company is expected to have a solid foundation in prosecution/litigation and should know how to provide strategic counseling. In-house lawyers at tech companies are also required to be extremely good writers who can draft TOS that can be understood by lay persons, and are also sufficient to safeguard the rights of the company.
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