Professor Niko Härting is founding partner of Härting Rechtsanwälte, a leading boutique law firm in Berlin, specialised in media and technology issues, IT and IP law. He is also a professor at Berlin School of Economics and Law (HWR) and chief editor of Privacy in Germany. Among numerous other publications, he has written books on the GDPR and internet law. The sixth edition of Internetrecht (“Internet Law”) was published in 2017.
WHAT ATTRACTED YOU TO A CAREER IN DATA LAW?
In 1999, I wrote a book on internet law – one of the first on the German market. In those days, the internet was new, and there were numerous new legal issues. This was a challenge I happily accepted, and there were start-ups out there that needed legal advice from a law firm that already knew what e-commerce, domains, websites and platforms were all about.
HOW HAS THE MARKET CHANGED SINCE YOU FIRST STARTED PRACTISING?
The world is much more digital today, and the legal issues that are at the forefront are different. Data protection and privacy have been the dominant issues for the past few years.
WHAT CHALLENGES DID YOU FACE WHEN SETTING UP YOUR OWN FIRM?
The biggest challenge was focus. What does Härting actually stand for? The answer was: concentrating on issues relating to media and technology. Clients need lawyers who know the clients’ business.
WHAT MAKES HÄRTING RECHTSANWÄLTE STAND OUT FROM ITS COMPETITORS IN THE MARKET?
We are a boutique – and when it comes to IT and IP, we are as strong as all the big players in the market. As far as IT and data protection are concerned, we are now, by far, the biggest boutique in the German market. We know how to work fast and efficiently, and how to give advice that is precise, usable and creative.
HOW HAS YOUR WORK AS A UNIVERSITY PROFESSOR ENHANCED YOUR WORK AS A PRIVATE PRACTITIONER?
Teaching definitely helps when it comes to training and educating young lawyers. Research work helps to keep me up to date.
WHERE, IN YOUR OPINION, DOES THE FUTURE OF THE PRACTICE AREA LIE?
Datafication is an ongoing process and here to stay. Therefore, data and IT law will continue to grow and flourish.
LOOKING BACK OVER YOUR CAREER, WHAT IS THE MOST MEMORABLE CASE YOU HAVE BEEN A PART OF?
There have been a number of major court cases, some of which took many years until they were finally decided (and won). It is impossible to say which of those was most memorable.
WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE TO YOUNGER PRACTITIONERS HOPING TO ONE DAY BE IN YOUR POSITION?
Work hard; be creative and optimistic, ready to take risks; and accept challenges. And never stop learning, questioning, doubting.