IT is a booming area and although there are numerous opportunities in London, there are also plenty of reasons to look abroad, according to James Franklin, a manager at recruitment consultancy Robert Walters.
“We see most opportunities in London and, because a number of social media and online gaming specialists are based there, in the West End,” he says. “The government-backed Tech City initiative is likely to lead to more jobs in East London over the next few years.”
Rachael North of recruiters Laurence Simons insists that the best opportunities for IT lawyers in the UK are outside of the capital.
“The M4 corridor remains the UK’s Silicon Valley equivalent,” North maintains. “It’s ’the’ location of choice for savvy in-house lawyers wishing to develop a successful career in this sector with major IT multinationals headquartered in Uxbridge, Slough, Bracknell, Reading, Newbury and across to Swindon.” Franklin also points out that the tech booms in Ireland and the US has led to a rise in demand for legal expertise in the IT sector.
“A number of social media and internet-based businesses are also located in Dublin so we see some activity in Ireland,” he adds. “Further afield, we’ve seen some IT lawyers relocate to the West Coast of the US, where a number of technology companies are based.”
As for the rest of Europe, North notes: “There’s also strong activity from major players based in mainland Europe, including Paris, the Netherlands, Munich and to a lesser extent Switzerland.”
Switzerland is a key market for specialist IT lawyers, says Franklin.
“Outside of the UK, we’ve seen large e-commerce businesses such as eBay relocate to Switzerland and this has created new opportunities for specialist IT lawyers,” he notes.
Away from Europe, there is also considerable “demand in the Middle East, Dubai and Doha for good IT lawyers”, according to Stuart Greenland of First Counsel.
Shane Morton, a partner in Taylor Root’s Dubai office, highlights Dubai as a key hub for IT lawyers in the Middle East.
“Most of the teams are in Dubai and work regionally across the Middle East and North Africa,” says Morton. “Arabic isn’t required when they recruit and they’re not bothered about IT qualifications.”
As for in-house, Morton says companies tend to recruit lawyers already working in the region.
“There are also in-house organisations spread across the region where IT and commercial contracts experience is useful, but these are often filled by people within the region,” he says.
Multijurisdictional experience, however, is valued highly in the in-house IT sector, notes North.
“Few roles and companies are focused purely on domestic markets,” he explains. “Lawyers with qualifications in more than one jurisdiction, those who have language skills and have operated in defined regions such as the Nordics, Southern Europe or Benelux region and so on are in demand and can expect a premium in terms of salary for their knowledge and experience.”