We could peep and say ‘Tech’ and move on. We know that does not say anything. Yet, on the other hand, it says just as much to highlight that the world is almost tech-leaning. You have no idea? Look around you; no space does not have tech ‘enhancements’ or enablements. Tech is the talk of the town, but there are issues in that space that are hardly discussed. This is what this piece is about.
The tech industry is a prosperous one indeed, and it is not strange for budding legal professionals to have ambitions to delve into this lucrative advancing field. Not everyone can write codes, analyse programs and develop tech solutions. So, delving into the field of tech law could be an alternative to submerging into the world of tech.
The evolution of the tech sector is a clear indication that extant laws that guide the sphere should be extended and developed to aid the adequacy and appropriateness of the legality of this sphere in the contemporary Nigerian landscape. The need for tech lawyers are rift and abundant, and there are needed in these emerging sectors:
1. Startup/Organisational Development
Tech thrives on decentralised markets, and there is a need for tech startups and organisations to conduct their businesses by abiding by laid down laws and regulations. These establishments need to create legal departments that would help in polishing contractual agreements, policy frameworks, and in-house by-laws necessary to ensure that their activities are in tandem with the regulatory stipulations. This development is evident in legal practitioners’ administration of prominent African startups and unicorns like Flutterwave and Andela. Tech lawyers are needed to drive innovation and growth in these sectors, and this could be a way of immersing in the tech sector for career advancement.
2. Policy/Legislative Framework
There is a need for a proper and practical framework for tech law in Nigeria, and tech law practitioners would come in handy in this regard. Policies, legislation and regulations are necessary for driving the field of tech, and this is shown in the enactments of bills like the Startup Bill by Nigerian legislators. Also, existing laws on tech like the Wireless Telegraphy Act, the Nigerian Communications Act, the NITDA Act, and other legislation and by-laws need expansion to cater to the tech sector’s emerging needs, and tech legal practitioners can tap into this sector for their legal practice.
3. Litigation/Dispute Resolution
Aspiring tech lawyers could tap into litigations of court cases and matters to effectively represent the interests of their clients. They would also be at the forefront of creating new precedents that would further regulations in the field while also advocating for tech development and innovation. For tech enthusiasts interested in litigations, data and privacies breach, digital securities, intellectual property infringements, startup compliance, and other related matters could be well-delved into.
4. Corporate Practice
There is a need for the draft of documents, formulating agreements, fine-tuning agreements with tech companies with other parastatals, and managing transactions for and on behalf of tech companies, and the expertise of tech law practitioners are required. Not all tech law engagements are fought out in law courts or through dispute resolution methods, which is why tech in corporate practice is a very lucrative workspace for tech lawyers.
5. Legal Writing/Research
There is a need for more intellectual contributions for the advancement of tech, and this is best done through materials that could be circulated and accessed on the internet. Emerging areas like cryptocurrencies, digital currencies/CBDCs, metaverse, NFTs, Web3, virtual realities and other tech areas need to be researched and written on. Legal writers and freelancers who write on tech laws relating to these sectors can fully explore the sector’s potential for financial sustainability and contribution to intellectualism.
6. Intellectual Property Protection
Tech inventions abound every day, and especially for a country harbouring tech capital and unicorns, there is a need for a thriving legal market for law practitioners specialising in protecting inventions and intellectual properties of innovators. Tech booms in a market where inventions and innovations are protected, secured and respected, and the laws are crucial in ensuring a conducive space for this to thrive. Intellectual Property Lawyers or Solicitors specialised in this regard (tech) can find a veritable career path in ensuring that intellectual properties in tech are well-protected and secured with the mechanism of the law.
7. Fintech Advisory
From cashless transactions to digital currency trading, tech powers finance, and there is a need for legal advice and professionalism for people who transact in these fields. Many fall short of earnings due to inadequate knowledge in conducting these transactions and the prevalence of cybercrime and scams. An excellent legal adviser can be a hack in navigating the murky waters of fintech. Legal practitioners could formulate their careers in this path, ensuring that solutions are provided, and advisory roles are dispensed towards career advancement.
8. The Academia
Tech law education needs to furthered in educational institutes, and there is a need for the tech law lecturers and academic scholars. Engaging in endeavours related to tech law may be a means of solidifying a viable career path in the academia, while creating a necessary balance between the fields of tech and law. It is necessary to have lecturers and law teachers with a specialty in tech law, to further pave a way for advancement in tech law.
The merits of choosing tech law as a career path are unquantifiable, as the emergence of new innovations like blockchain, NFTs and Web3, which is bound to disrupt the digital collectables and accessibility market, needs the necessary infusion of laws to regulate the tech stratosphere.
The existence of virtual law firms in emerging economies such as the Infusion Lawyers, prevalence of online legal databases (Legalpedia, Lexis Nexis, Westlaw & Lawpavilion), and virtual internships and remote workspaces are pointers to the fact that tech is the new way, and 21st-century lawyers should consider careers in tech-law related fields.
Adedimeji Quayyim Abdul-Hafeez is a freelance journalist with core interests in media, culture and tech. He can be reached via [email protected]
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