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Steven De Schrijver

Steven De Schrijver

AstreaLouizalaan 235 Avenue LouiseBrusselsBelgium1050
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Thought Leader

WWL Ranking: Global Elite Thought Leader
Thought Leaders - Data 2019

Q&A

WWL Ranking: Thought Leader

Questions & Answers

Steven De Schrijver is a partner with the Belgian law firm Astrea. He has 25 years of expertise in e-commerce, software licensing, internet law, privacy law, IT security, technology transfers, digital signatures, IT outsourcing, cloud computing, advertising, drones, robotics and artificial intelligence. Steven has also been involved in numerous national and cross-border M&A transactions in the IT, media and telecom sectors, and many outsourcing, digital transformation and data protection (now GDPR) compliance projects.

WHAT MOTIVATED YOU TO SPECIALISE IN THE AREAS OF IT AND MEDIA LAW?

I started out as a corporate lawyer at the beginning of the 1990s and by chance most of the transactions I was involved in during the first years of my career were in the TMT sector. With the inception of the world wide web more and more corporate clients started asking me questions about privacy and use policies, and e-commerce. I was also becoming the firm’s dedicated technology lawyer. So I started attending internet law conferences, became a member of the Computer Law Association (now ITechLaw), and started building my worldwide network of technology lawyers, which has become an important source of referrals.

WHAT DID YOU FIND MOST CHALLENGING ABOUT STARTING OUT IN THESE AREAS?

It requires time and patience to build expertise and experience in a new area of law. You go to conferences, write articles, give presentations, try to meet the lawyers servicing the clients that you would like to service. But in the end you also need some luck for interesting clients to cross your path. The specificity of ICT law is that, unlike say in tax law, not only does the applicable regulatory framework constantly change but also the object of the regulatory framework, ie, the underlying technologies. This means that you need to constantly keep up with the latest technological developments.

WHAT DO YOU ENJOY MOST ABOUT YOUR WORK?

Technically, corporate and M&A work can sometimes be a bit monotonous. The share purchase and shareholders’ agreements we draft today are not so different from those we drafted 20 years ago. Technologies constantly change, which often implies that they raise new legal and sometimes ethical questions. I am very interested in the legal and ethical policies that need to be developed to harness the opportunities that artificial intelligence is creating across areas such as transportation and safety, life sciences, employment, criminal justice and national security.

WHAT MAKES ASTREA STAND OUT FROM ITS COMPETITORS IN THE MARKET?

We just try to actually deliver what any client might expect from their lawyer or law firm: high-quality technical and strategic legal advice, good service with a high level of responsiveness, and a business-oriented and personal approach. Clients like to work with skilled lawyers who are specialised; are passionate about their profession; attach importance to values such as integrity and dependability; and are pleasant to work with.

YOU ARE MEMBER OF SEVERAL INTERNATIONAL BAR AND IT INDUSTRY ASSOCIATIONS. HOW DOES MEMBERSHIP OF SUCH ORGANISATIONS ENHANCE YOUR PRACTICE?

Of course, international bar and industry associations provide a forum for the exchange of ideas, and attendance of IT conferences is important for catching up with industry partners and peers and keeping up to date on the latest developments in the sector. Even more importantly, however, they provide you with a global network for in-bound and out-bound referrals, which is very important in IT law as by its nature it transcends national borders. Over the years many of the world’s leading technology lawyers have become close friends.

HOW DO YOU SEE YOUR PRACTICE DEVELOPING OVER THE NEXT FIVE YEARS?

Despite what some consultants like to claim, I personally believe there will always be a place in the market for independent law firms providing high-quality legal advice and top-notch service with a personal twist, despite the challenges posed by AI-driven legal tech and competition from large multidisciplinary firms. On the one hand, lawyers in general know more about technologies, IT and privacy law. And on the other hand, the technologies and the relevant laws have become more complicated. So it is up to us technology lawyers to keep continually up to date with new technologies and legal developments so that we can continue to provide our clients with strategic and value-added legal advice.

Quantum computing, with blockchain, has the capability to reshape high-volume, low-value record-based services such as asset-tracking, identity management, patient health records and B2B insurance. The volume of global data will increase exponentially. The combination of automation and artificial intelligence will allow companies to automate business processes in an intelligent manner and drive efficiency in organisations, allowing employees to focus on more meaningful work. These new technologies will change how we work; how we interact with digital content, machines and our homes; and how we transport goods or travel or start new business models. This will raise all kinds of legal issues such as privacy (certainly in light of the GDPR), cybersecurity, liability, insurance, employment, intellectual property but also ethical issues that will keep us technology lawyers more than busy in the coming five years.

LOOKING BACK OVER YOUR CAREER, WHAT IS THE MOST MEMORABLE CASE YOU HAVE BEEN A PART OF?

I always hope that my most memorable case will be my next one. I have enjoyed working with some of the largest law firms in the world on the Belgian legal aspects of global M&A transactions, but enjoyed just as much assisting foreign investors on the purchase of, and Belgian entrepreneurs on the sale of, Belgian technology companies. I especially enjoyed assisting large companies such as Mazda Europe, ISS Facility Services and Bridgestone on their IT outsourcing projects. For the past six years I assisted Skype on a Belgian criminal matter regarding the interception of metadata and content of Skype communications. Recently, I was asked to assist a Nordic listed company for an XaaS-project transforming their business model from selling products to selling services. No Belgian law aspects were involved. I take it as a compliment if clients start calling you in for your sector expertise, rather than your local law expertise.

YOU HAVE ENJOYED A VERY DISTINGUISHED CAREER SO FAR. WHAT WOULD YOU LIKE TO ACHIEVE THAT YOU HAVE NOT YET ACCOMPLISHED?

As long as I continue to deserve the respect of my associates, partners, clients and peers and can continue to handle interesting technology-related legal matters for appreciative clients I have accomplished everything I wanted to achieve in my career. What I have really enjoyed over the past few years is that clients and colleagues from all over the world seek my advice not only on Belgian law-related matters but, also on transboundary technology projects.

Global Leader

WWL Ranking: Global Elite Thought Leader

WWL says

Steven De Schrijver leads our research this year in Europe and is "an expert in the field" of data security, demonstrating deep knowledge and experience in the market. He is commended by peers for his "great understanding of his client's business, which proves indispensable in the area of personal data".

Biography

Steven De Schrijver is a partner in the Brussels office of Astrea. He has more than 25 years of experience advising some of the largest Belgian and foreign technology companies, as well as innovative entrepreneurs on complex commercial agreements and projects dealing with new technologies. His expertise includes e-commerce, software licensing, website development and hosting, data protection and privacy law, cybersecurity and cybercrime, technology transfers, digital signatures, IT outsourcing, cloud computing, advertising, drones, robotics and social networking.

Steven has also been involved in several national and cross-border transactions in the IT, media and telecom sectors. He participated in the establishment of the first mobile telephone network in Belgium, the establishment of one of the first e-commerce platforms in Belgium, the acquisition of the Flemish broadband cable operator and network, and the acquisition and sale of numerous Belgian software and technology companies. He has been involved in numerous outsourcing projects and data protection (now GDPR) compliance projects.

Steven is the Belgian member of EuroITCounsel, a quality-led circle of independent IT lawyers. He is also a board member of ITechLaw and the International Federation of Computer Law Associations. In 2012, 2014, 2017 and 2018, he was given the Global Information Technology Lawyer of the Year award by Who’s Who Legal and, in 2012, he received the ILO Client Choice Award in the corporate law category for Belgium.

Steven has been admitted to the Brussels Bar. He holds a law degree from the University of Antwerp (1992) and an LLM degree from the University of Virginia School of Law (1993).

Data - Data Security 2019

Professional Biography

WWL Ranking: Recommended

WWL says

Steven De Schrijver leads our research this year in Europe and is "an expert in the field" of data security, demonstrating deep knowledge and experience in the market. He is commended by peers for his "great understanding of his client's business, which proves indispensable in the area of personal data".

Biography

Steven De Schrijver is a partner in the Brussels office of Astrea. He has more than 25 years of experience advising some of the largest Belgian and foreign technology companies, as well as innovative entrepreneurs on complex commercial agreements and projects dealing with new technologies. His expertise includes e-commerce, software licensing, website development and hosting, data protection and privacy law, cybersecurity and cybercrime, technology transfers, digital signatures, IT outsourcing, cloud computing, advertising, drones, robotics and social networking.

Steven has also been involved in several national and cross-border transactions in the IT, media and telecom sectors. He participated in the establishment of the first mobile telephone network in Belgium, the establishment of one of the first e-commerce platforms in Belgium, the acquisition of the Flemish broadband cable operator and network, and the acquisition and sale of numerous Belgian software and technology companies. He has been involved in numerous outsourcing projects and data protection (now GDPR) compliance projects.

Steven is the Belgian member of EuroITCounsel, a quality-led circle of independent IT lawyers. He is also a board member of ITechLaw and the International Federation of Computer Law Associations. In 2012, 2014, 2017 and 2018, he was given the Global Information Technology Lawyer of the Year award by Who’s Who Legal and, in 2012, he received the ILO Client Choice Award in the corporate law category for Belgium.

Steven has been admitted to the Brussels Bar. He holds a law degree from the University of Antwerp (1992) and an LLM degree from the University of Virginia School of Law (1993).

WWL Ranking: Global Elite Thought Leader

WWL says

Steven De Schrijver is “the number-one IT lawyer in Belgium" as well as the top name in EMEA in our research, thanks to his combination of deep expertise and extensive experience.

Biography

Steven De Schrijver is a partner in the Brussels office of Astrea. He has more than 25 years of experience advising some of the largest Belgian and foreign technology companies, as well as innovative entrepreneurs on complex commercial agreements and projects dealing with new technologies. His expertise includes e-commerce, software licensing, website development and hosting, data protection and privacy law, cybersecurity and cybercrime, technology transfers, digital signatures, IT outsourcing, cloud computing, advertising, drones, robotics and social networking.

Steven has also been involved in several national and cross-border transactions in the IT, media and telecom sectors. He participated in the establishment of the first mobile telephone network in Belgium, the establishment of one of the first e-commerce platforms in Belgium, the acquisition of the Flemish broadband cable operator and network, and the acquisition and sale of numerous Belgian software and technology companies. He has been involved in numerous outsourcing projects and data protection (now GDPR) compliance projects.

Steven is the Belgian member of EuroITCounsel, a quality-led circle of independent IT lawyers. He is also a board member of ITechLaw and the International Federation of Computer Law Associations. In 2012, 2014, 2017 and 2018, he was given the Global Information Technology Lawyer of the Year award by Who’s Who Legal and, in 2012, he received the ILO Client Choice Award in the corporate law category for Belgium.

Steven has been admitted to the Brussels Bar. He holds a law degree from the University of Antwerp (1992) and an LLM degree from the University of Virginia School of Law (1993).

Data - Telecoms & Media 2019

Professional Biography

WWL Ranking: Global Elite Thought Leader

WWL says

The "very service-oriented" Steven De Schrijver is a top-tier name for transactional work relating to the telecoms and media sectors. He tops our research in EMEA this year and is highly regarded as a guru for his vast experience working on high-value, cross-border deals in the space.

Biography

Steven De Schrijver is a partner in the Brussels office of Astrea. He has more than 25 years of experience advising some of the largest Belgian and foreign technology companies, as well as innovative entrepreneurs on complex commercial agreements and projects dealing with new technologies. His expertise includes e-commerce, software licensing, website development and hosting, data protection and privacy law, cybersecurity and cybercrime, technology transfers, digital signatures, IT outsourcing, cloud computing, advertising, drones, robotics and social networking.

Steven has also been involved in several national and cross-border transactions in the IT, media and telecom sectors. He participated in the establishment of the first mobile telephone network in Belgium, the establishment of one of the first e-commerce platforms in Belgium, the acquisition of the Flemish broadband cable operator and network, and the acquisition and sale of numerous Belgian software and technology companies. He has been involved in numerous outsourcing projects and data protection (now GDPR) compliance projects.

Steven is the Belgian member of EuroITCounsel, a quality-led circle of independent IT lawyers. He is also a board member of ITechLaw and the International Federation of Computer Law Associations. In 2012, 2014, 2017 and 2018, he was given the Global Information Technology Lawyer of the Year award by Who’s Who Legal and, in 2012, he received the ILO Client Choice Award in the corporate law category for Belgium.

Steven has been admitted to the Brussels Bar. He holds a law degree from the University of Antwerp (1992) and an LLM degree from the University of Virginia School of Law (1993).

Features by Steven De Schrijver

Xaas: the legal implications of the inevitable evolution towards an integrated, service-based business model

Xaas: the legal implications of the inevitable evolution towards an integrated, service-based business model


The Future Is Now: Legal Consequences of Electronic Personality for Autonomous Robots

The Future Is Now: Legal Consequences of Electronic Personality for Autonomous Robots

Awards won by Steven De Schrijver

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