Christian Laux
Office:
Seegartenstrasse 2
CH – 8008
City:
Zurich
State:
Zurich
Country:
Switzerland
Tel:
+41 44 880 2424
Fax:
+41 44 880 2425

Questions and Answers:

Who's Who Legal Thought Leaders - Data

Dr Christian Laux (LLM) is partner at Laux Lawyers AG. He has extensive experience with technology and its legal implications, and advises on all aspects of IT law. Contracts, outsourcings and data-related issues are at the core of his practice. Christian combines his experience as both inside and outside counsel with a passion for technology. Christian is board member of several organisations operating at the cutting edge of data, policy and the law.

DESCRIBE YOUR CAREER TO DATE.

My career path looks like a typical curriculum for an outside counsel: I came from university in 1999; was a research and teaching assistant until 2001; clerk to the vice president of a district court (2001–2002); received a PhD in 2002; worked at a law firm; bar exam in 2004; studied at Stanford University; worked at a law firm in the Silicon Valley; worked as in-house lawyer; worked at law firms in Zurich; and then I opened Laux Lawyers, my own IT law boutique firm, in 2011. The firm has since grown. What brought me here? Simply, it is the fascination with and the passion for technology. I also had the chance of working with colleagues who introduced me to the nuts and bolts of the legal practice, and of IT law more specifically.

WHAT DO YOU MOST ENJOY ABOUT WORKING IN DATA LAW?

Being a lawyer working in the field of data law means working at the frontier of the law. This means many things. We live in the information age – but there is still no uniform doctrine about what information is, from a legal perspective. We discuss ownership in data – but we do not know why there should be ownership, or not. These questions are typical for a data lawyer’s work. It is very investigative and new, and it offers surprises every day.

HOW DOES INNOVATIVE TECHNOLOGY INTERSECT WITH DATA LAW, AND TO WHAT EXTENT IS IT NECESSARY FOR EFFECTIVE LAWYERS IN THIS AREA TO HAVE A GOOD KNOWLEDGE OF BOTH?

Technology is not only the theme of our practice, but often also the solution to the problems we work on. This may make it necessary to dig more deeply. Take the following example: a client once came to me asking me to draft a software distribution agreement for him. I asked back to understand the task and found out that the client actually simply shared information about an interface. As an interface enjoys a lower level of legal protection than a copyrighted piece of software, a mere software distribution agreement – anticipating that the to-be-distributed software is protected by statutory claims – would not have helped the client. The client would have been left unprotected. Only by asking back, and understanding the facts, can a technology lawyer find the appropriate solutions. I should add that technicalities are very important in the context of blockchain projects, too. We advise on such projects and our know-how of software architectures and of reading software code are a very relevant asset, here.

WHAT IMPACT HAS THE GROWTH OF AI HAD ON YOUR CLIENTS AND YOUR OWN PRACTICE?

Relevant AI offerings for lawyers were scarce when I founded the firm, and they have only picked up recently. While AI was thus not very relevant in the past, I expect AI to become very relevant to our law practice soon – be it because we use such systems or we develop intelligent solutions in our own projects (which we currently do). For our clients, AI has been relevant for an even longer period and will keep its importance in the future.

HOW MIGHT ADVANCES IN TECHNOLOGY BE A BENEFIT OR A CHALLENGE FOR THE LEGAL COMMUNITY?

Technology for the legal market – so-called legal tech – will be beneficial to those lawyers who embrace it and who do not try to uphold traditional structures.In simple terms, outbound activities of a law firm are threefold (but only one of them will be selling to clients). They relate to know-how, drafting and advisory.

First, know-how. In the past, a lawyer could earn money by simply informing the client about a rule. Rules libraries (ie, software products with larger databases) substitute that part of the business. Just knowing the law is no longer sufficient.

Second, drafting. For standard agreements clients are no longer willing to pay much. Rather, the price goes to zero. Standard agreements are commoditised and can be established by software solutions with a few clicks. This is where legal tech will have its biggest impact, taking away a large chunk of what lawyers could have invoiced to a client.

Third, advisory. Legal tech can make a lawyer faster in pulling up relevant contextual information when giving advice to a client. In the context of advisory, legal tech will improve a lawyer’s quality of advice. Unlike the other two, advisory will become much more important in the future.

All in all, it is clear that legal tech will have an impact on the legal profession. Lawyers will still be needed, but the practitioner will be doing more advisory work, and less repetitive stuff. In turn, this implies that expert knowledge will be more heavily sought by clients. I anticipate that the “supply” of legal experts with a great deal of experience in specific fields of business (ie, good advisers) will remain scarce – and the availability of legal tech has its impact on that. Due to legal tech, it will be difficult for young professionals to find a place within a firm to get trained and to acquire expert knowledge. Therefore, the hourly rate of experts will multiply by an important factor (could be a factor of three or so). The hourly rate of lawyers with no specific experience will be reduced accordingly.

WHAT HAS BEEN YOUR GREATEST ACHIEVEMENT TO DATE?

Actually, when clients get back to us confirming that we have provided efficient help, then this is the greatest achievement we can get. And, luckily, we have this feedback often, so this is what makes being an IT lawyer a fun thing. But, of course, you asked for something more tangible. We have successfully prepared the legal grounds for a full migration of IT infrastructures of an insurance to the Cloud, including regulatory aspects, and we were the first to be involved in a project of that scale. Earlier projects were much more anxious to get the regulator’s approval, and thus limited the scope of the project. Defending a client against a copyleft-infringement claim, paving the way for a local government’s open data strategy by taking away concerns of liability, using visual representations to make our argument in a brief to a court, defending the creator of software against an alleged infringement, are other examples. And every time we successfully defend a provider that finds itself in an IT project that has gone into distress we are glad to have been of help.

YOUR FIRM HAS SEEN STRONG GROWTH IN RECENT YEARS. WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE TO SOMEONE LOOKING TO START THEIR OWN FIRM?

Do what you love.

HOW DO YOU SEE DATA LAW DEVELOPING OVER THE NEXT FIVE YEARS?

I believe many jurisdictions now need to implement a forward-looking data policy. Ultimately, this requires an understanding of what the data space we live in means – where do principles of “my data” apply? What about those of “shared data”? And “public data”? A uniform data legislation will be needed. “Control” will be a core term for such data legislation – the components of control being access, use, integrity and compliance. This is where I believe the law will develop in the near future.

Practice Areas:

Follow us on LinkedIn

Practice Areas

Firms

Browse Firms

Search Firms

The Who's Who Legal 100

Awards

News & Features

Special Reports

Events

Shop

About Us

It is not possible to buy entry into any Who's Who Legal publication

Nominees have been selected based upon comprehensive, independent survey work with both general counsel and private practice lawyers worldwide. Only specialists who have met independent international research criteria are listed.

Copyright © 2019 Law Business Research Ltd. All rights reserved. | http://www.lbresearch.com

87 Lancaster Road, London, W11 1QQ, UK | Tel: +44 20 7908 1180 / Fax: +44 207 229 6910

http://www.whoswholegal.com | editorial@whoswholegal.com

Law Business Research Ltd

87 Lancaster Road, London
W11 1QQ, UK