JUVE Law Firm of the year

Information Technology

Data protection specialists in greater demand than ever

The countdown to the implementation of the GDPR in May 2018 has begun and IT lawyers have their hands full. When the 2016 deadline was passed, most companies began the process of implementation – at least in theory. Many of them are turning to firms for help here. For the lawyers, it is an exciting time as legislators have rarely been so active around the topic of data at the national and the EU level. GDPR, ePrivacy and the increasing number of hacker attacks are pushing the topic of cybersecurity further into the spotlight.

In the process, the establishment of German data protection authorities is being followed with great interest. How actively will they scrutinize companies for GDPR compliance? In light of the high fines and liability, it is frequently a topic for executive boards. Combined with the time pressure to implement the GDPR, this is a veritable paradise for any data protection lawyer.

Industry 4.0 omnipresent

With the commotion surrounding the GDPR, the greater topic of digitalization has faded into the background to a certain extent. But the fact remains: everything is being digitized – from cars to refrigerators. And precisely because of the numerous novel projects in almost every industry – from insurance through banking all the way to traditional industry – IT lawyers are in high demand. The result is that there are almost no transactions where an IT lawyer is not present. In fact, it is not unusual for a deal to fall apart because the data due diligence has not been properly carried out.

IT practices come to the fore

IT practices are thus becoming strategically more important, even in larger outfits, and – unlike a few years ago – they are active as independent and, above all, recognized practices. Those who championed technology as a field early on continue to have the advantage, e.g. Baker & McKenzie, Noerr, Osborne Clarke, Taylor Wessing, Bird & Bird and DLA Piper. But even young (at least in the German market) firms such as Pinsent Masons are also well connected in the industry, with the advantage of an international network in data protection. Although established boutiques such as Vogel & Partner and SSW Schneider Schiffer Weihermüller have visible partners for data protection, they will have to expand their international networks if they do not want to fall behind – a task which SSW has already begun, recently strengthening its relationships abroad.

Gearing up for GDPR disputes

With a view to the future and the implementation of GDPR, several firms are already gearing up for a large number of disputes. Outfits such as Reed Smith are well positioned with their litigation practices. Even White & Case and WilmerHale, which are conducting numerous proceedings for Facebook, look forward to a boom in advice here. When it comes to staff, satisfaction with the course of business has left little room for thoughts of jumping ship, though Dr. Thomas Jansen left DLA Piper for the Munich office of Heuking Kühn Lüer Wojtek, and Sven Schlotzhauer moved from Büsing Müffelmann & Theye to von Boetticher.


On the one hand, this chapter deals with stand-alone IT consisting of contracts and litigation (systems implementation, software licensing and development contracts, as well as distribution, antitrust and unfair competition law), in which data protection, IT security, compliance and IT procurement play a role. On the other hand, transaction-driven work – incl. outsourcing business deals and business process outsourcing, as well as transaction support – also forms a central part of the chapter. The rankings, which are subdivided into stand-alone (contracts and litigation) and transaction-driven work (incl. outsourcing), clarify the relative positioning of the law firms.

Since ?trademarks and unfair competition and ?distribution law regularly play a role in IT matters, the reader is advised to consult these chapters. For offices with a focus on the ?media sector, advice on the interface with media and telecommunications – particularly in connection with the Internet and the convergence of content and technology – is all part of day-to-day business. An overview of firms with interdisciplinary teams, which advise on internal investigations and setting up compliance, can be found in the chapter ?compliance audits and investigations.

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