A lawyer in a TMT department may act for production companies, distributors/broadcasters, channel providers, content providers, finance providers, technical platforms or service providers and government or other official bodies.

Many new business models are cross-border and cross-media, which raises interesting issues relating to the use and distribution of content.

The working culture

TMT lawyers will be expected to provide a full range of legal services, such as commercial advice on IT transactions, dispute resolution and contract management, corporate restructuring, business growth and financing, outsourcing, employment and competition law issues.

On the non-contentious side (and on TMT matters) the size of your team will vary depending on the deal. Your role may be to provide IP support to corporate or TMT colleagues or to draft complex agreements. You may also work as part of a team with colleagues from other departments. Increasingly, firms are offering a sector focus, which means that teams are put together comprising members from across the firm to offer a full range of services to specific sectors.

There may be travel opportunities when working with multinational companies or secondments to a client’s, or your firm’s, overseas offices.

Skills required
As a trainee you will experience a steep learning curve, as IP/TMT are niche areas and the law is likely to be different to that which you encounter in other departments. Trainees are likely to be involved in legal research, drafting letters of advice, reviewing commercial agreements and attending court.

You will be expected to maintain an up-to-date knowledge of civil procedure, UK and European regulations and case law, as well as core domestic legislation (on the IP side of things, the Patents Act 1977, the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988 and the Civil Procedure Rules will be just some of your faithful companions).

You will need excellent attention to detail, creative problem-solving abilities and (if you are to be involved in patent work) an interest in science and technology. You will also need to be a good negotiator and have a flair for drafting.

Recent developments

In TMT, the European Parliament has voted to adopt amendments to the Roaming Regulation to reduce further the caps on retail charging for roaming voice calls originally introduced in 2007; it will introduce caps on charges for roaming text messages and other data transmissions, such as downloading films, pictures or sending emails from mobile phones or laptops. Operators must also bill by the second rather than by the minute.

Brooke Whitaker is an associate at Bird & Bird