IT lawyers think it means IT as in Paris Hilton and Nicole Richie. Be kind to them. Obviously that particular fantasy needs correcting because no lawyer should put the professional reputation of every other lawyer in jeopardy. But let them think that IT means ‘Information Technology’, not ‘Incredibly Tedious’.
Still, if you need your software patent protecting, have a view on whether Microsoft should incorporate Java, want to use Linux instead of Windows or Macintosh, are prepared to read up on GPL3 and go open source and know about VAX, Visual Basic, COBOL, C, C++, Fox Pro, Fortran, Z80 Assembler, Java, Ruby, Various 4GLs, XML, SQL and HTML, TCP/IP, HTTP, FTP, Web application servers and frameworks such as Apache Tomcat and PHP///////////////// – oh I’m sorry, I fell asleep there for a minute. It’s just so fascinating. Anyway, the great thing about IT lawyers is that they like to communicate by email (this is what a Blackberry is by the way. If you think – not that I ever did obviously – that you just wrote your message really small in white ink and posted it then you are irredeemably behind the times). So you never have to meet them. Which is a relief.
Advantages. Not everyone is interesting enough to be an IT lawyer so there might not be that much competition. Chambers are very laid back with open neck shirts and jeans the order of the day. This is to put the clients at ease since, obviously, the usual barristers’ way of doing this – i.e. with their personality – is closed to IT lawyers. It is a developing area which means that your guess is as good as anyone elses. IT litigation is usually assigned to the Chancery Division so there is at least some chance of you appearing almost normal compared to other lawyers you meet. Your plumber will not be required as you will be able to flush your toilet via your intelliphone and your robot will do the repairs.
Disadvantages. All the Judges look about 16. Perhaps they are. Most of them are not listening to your case anyway because they are negotiating their own contract with a Magic Circle firm. If your Skeleton Argument will not open in 89 programmes running 16 formats with hyperlinks every other word, everyone will laugh at you. Most of your clients are start-ups so you will be paid in share options. This will allow you to wallpaper your house, but not much else. Alternatively you act for Microsoft and people shiver as you approach. Ultimately you are helping people have no free time at all and when you die your punishment will be to write by hand to everyone you ever emailed and tell them the story of your entire life. And you will deserve it.