JUVE Law Firm of the year

Information Technology

Data protection is hotter than ever

IT lawyers are looking back at an eventful year: When the European Court of Justice overturned the Safe Harbor Decision in October 2015, it hit the market like a lightning bolt. Almost every concern (and also many Mittelstand companies) suddenly had to re-evaluate their contracts and convert to binding corporate rules or standard contract clauses. Only a few weeks later, after many years of discussion, the EU data protection regulations were adopted. This puts all of Europe on the same footing with regard to data protection, and imposes serious fines on non-compliant companies. Data protection lawyers are more in demand than ever before. “The work is just piling up” was one lawyer’s summary of the situation.

Industry 4.0 is generating demand for advice

IT lawyers are also benefiting from the growing demand for advice on Industry 4.0 as well as the M&A market. For the latter they have outgrown their purely supportive function. The greater the IT-law portion of a transaction, the more these aspects take on a central role in the deal. This is even more true of the growing fintech sector. Advice on outsourcing has also changed: comprehensive outsourcing projects have become rare, with smaller but highly specialized outsourcing projects determining the market.

IT practices becoming more central to law firms

The rapid development of data protection continues to spur IT departments onwards. Unsurprisingly, the firms that profit the most in this market are those that developed good connections in the technology sector early on, such as Baker & McKenzie, Noerr, Osborne Clarke, Taylor Wessing, Bird & Bird and DLA Piper. Boutiques SSW Schneider Schiffer Weihermüller and Vogel & Partner are also doing well, since they boast highly visible data protection experts with long-established reputations. However, the boutiques are having increasing difficulty holding their own against larger outfits with good international ties in this highly international market.

Large transaction-driven firms are also beginning to see the relevance of data protection law, and their IT practices are benefiting from the M&A market. These include Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer, Clifford Chance and Latham & Watkins. Other big firms such as White & Case and CMS Hasche Sigle have secured a good position in fintech as well as data protection. On the whole, it was a peaceful year from an HR perspective – there was so much work to go around that few lawyers were inspired to pull up stakes.



On the one hand, this chapter deals with stand-alone IT consisting of contracts and litigation (systems implementation, software licensing and development contracts, as well as distribution, antitrust and unfair competition law), in which data protection, IT security, compliance and IT procurement play a role. On the other hand, transaction-driven work – incl. outsourcing business deals and business process outsourcing, as well as transaction support – also forms a central part of the chapter.

The rankings, which are subdivided into stand-alone (contracts and litigation) and transaction-driven work (incl. outsourcing), clarify the relative positioning of the law firms. Since ?trademarks and unfair competition and ?distribution law regularly play a role in IT matters, the reader is advised to consult these chapters.

For offices with a focus on the ?media sector, advice on the interface with media and telecommunications – particularly in connection with the Internet and the convergence of content and technology – is all part of day-to-day business. An overview of firms with interdisciplinary teams, which advise on internal investigations and setting up compliance, can be found in the chapter ?compliance audits and investigations.

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