Technology Attorney and Technology Law Explained

Some wonder, “what is the difference between a technology attorney (information technology attorney) and an intellectual property attorney?” Aren’t they the same thing? While sometimes confused, the two types of attorney typically focus on very different aspects of the law and lead to unexpected results.

Technology Attorney Explained

An information technology attorney provides legal counsel and legal representation related to technology issues as technology. A technology attorney, applying information technology skills in addition to legal and business skills, might handle matters such as cybersecurity, data compliance (HIPAA, GLB, FTC), data breach, information governance policies, data retention policies, software licenses (including open source software), technology contracts, eDiscovery, data analysis, data analytics, Big Data, data privacy, cryptography, and computer crimes-related issues (such as “hacking” incidents or “hacker” defense). Thus, a technology attorney brings technology skills plus legal skills to a project (and ask the attorney about their technology skills). The need for attorneys focused on technology-as-technology increases due to the fundamental role that information technology plays in business and society.

Intellectual Property Attorney Distinguished

Intellectual property attorneys generally focus on trade secrets, patents, copyright, and trademark law. These intellectual property topics may differ considerably from the topics and skills addressed by  technology lawyers—although, sometimes, there is some tangential overlap between the law practice of IP attorneys and law practice of technology attorneys. Thus, an intellectual property attorney might have no real information technology background, skills, or experience (other than common computer skills).

Information Technology Attorney as Business Counselor

Also, remember that lawyers serve as both attorneys-at-law and as counselors-at-law. While most popular perceptions of lawyers focus on the lawyer’s advocacy or attorney-at-law role (as frequently seen on t.v.), many lawyers are also trained as confidential counselors—professionals experienced in business, technology, and law who can help in difficult situations or as confidential advisors to mitigate risks (such as working with IT teams to develop and implement technology policies and information technology plans).

Attorney Brown offers technology law services in Pennsylvania and in federal cases.