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VIRGIN Interactive Entertainment's former head of legal and business affairs Pam Dalton is joining London firm Schilling & Lom and partners to set up an interactive media department.
Schilling & Lom, which specialises in litigation and contracts for a celebrity clientele, hired Dalton as a full-time consultant with a view to becoming a partner.
Dalton is one of only around 10 specialists in the interactive media field, which includes the rapidly expanding industry of computer games.
According to computer games marketing consultant Chris Knight, managing director of 1UP Media: "The computer games industry is maturing in a similar manner to the music industry with plenty of M&As and two or three big fish leading the field. It's as big if not bigger than the other two entertainment businesses - music and cinema - in terms of how much money it generates."
Dalton set up the Virgin Group's legal and business affairs unit in 1994, where she was vice-president, before setting up a consultancy business in 1998.
She previously worked as a solicitor at City firm Norton Rose and London entertainment and media firm Harbottle & Lewis, where she helped partner and computer games specialist Mark Phillips set up the firm's multimedia department in the 1980s.
Harbottle & Lewis' head of interactive entertainments Sebastian Belcher says: "Dalton has a lot of experience - she used to work here and we have had a dedicated department specialising in interactive entertainments since the early to mid 1980s."
Dalton says: "This area of law is becoming increasingly complicated and tax-driven, and a traditional media lawyer is likely to look at things in a narrower way.
Hobson Audley Hopkins & Wood partner David Rogers, a pioneer of computer games law, says: "Someone coming from within the industry brings a wealth of hands-on experience as well as contacts.
"It is not easy to get into this area of law from scratch. It is very jargonistic and a lot of the deal structures are unique to the market."