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Brazil’s Best Counsel 2022 - Chapter Opening: Technology
A Sign of the Times: Humanizing the Tech Transaction Practice
Let's be honest, despite the coronavirus pandemic, 2020 and 2021 was the most significant period for technology lawyers in Brazil. Tech companies broke records in revenue and profits, and venture capital continued to pour money into (almost) anything.
At least three sectors have been providing a lot of good news. The impact of financial regulations issued by the Brazilian Central Bank over the last five years has been primarily positive for fintech, boosting investments and grabbing a larger piece of the pie. Education is on the rise too; as the world suddenly realizes that yes, it is possible to provide cutting-edge, scalable education through digital media, edtechs are raising astonishing figures through venture capital. Finally, healthtechs are reshaping the provision of medical services by adopting personal data management platforms for medical records and telemedicine consultations, bringing the flow of personal data in line with new data protection and privacy concerns.
Mainly because of this incredibly favorable scenario, we have been living a Golden Age of our profession, with hiring booms, firms being nationally recognized and young professionals being quickly promoted.
Tech companies broke records in revenue and profits, and venture capital continued to pour money into (almost) anything
Also, it is worth mentioning that the increasing awareness of regulators regarding the challenges linked to new technologies is highly contributing to this encouraging trend within the legal industry, leading to more awareness by the general audience as well.
It's all happening
There are so many trends taking place simultaneously that law firms often seem as dazed and confused as Penny Lane's catchy motto in Cameron Crowe's Almost Famous, "it's all happening." Yes, it has been a significant period, but millions worldwide suffered from the pandemic, other sectors sank. At the same time, the "let's be efficient" discourse became the standard jargon all around the tech business environment. Clients are squeezing margins, demanding faster turnaround times, requiring more complex daily demands, and burnout is (unfortunately) the new trend among our colleagues.
I wonder if this is not the time for a holistic, humanizing approach for tech practices within Brazilian law firms and to put critical thinking about our role in society at the center of our practice. Many of us in the legal profession has embraced innovation as an opportunity to connect our traditional job with the exciting world of tech. Technology attorneys have existed for decades, beginning with telecom and IT contracts. However, many law firms that advise on innovation have not practiced what they preach, struggling to adapt to innovation in their environments, leading to a better work atmosphere.
The impact of financial regulations issued by the Brazilian Central Bank over the last five years has been primarily positive for fintech
Of course, balancing the promise of a sustainable workplace with the desire to contribute to an innovative future and the need to generate revenue as an organization is hugely tricky.
Mental health as a mantra
Creating healthy legal work should be the top priority in our practice in the post-Covid era. There is a strong, proven case for law firms to promote good physical and mental health for all. It leads to greater productivity, better morale, better retention, and more vital adherence to the firms' mission and values. Poor mental health compromises business decision-making and leads to mistakes being covered up, which can have severe consequences for the individual, the client, and the law firm.
These conclusions are especially true when we think about the purpose and motifs embedded in younger generations that start to populate media, tech, and data protection practices with an entirely different vision of the workplace (physical or not). Zoomers demand flexible schedules, a transparent work culture, less bureaucracy, and an environment that is always challenging them with new opportunities for learning and development.
You may think that this generation of lawyers is stubborn, but they are not the dinosaurs in the room; actually, their ultimate goal is not that different from everyone: finding happiness, fulfillment, appreciation, and security in their career.
Our role in society
The challenge to stay bold and innovative in our practice to reach these expectations is challenging. As technology lawyers, our responsibility is to look around the corner: analyzing a broader regulatory background, intuiting management vectors, and developing an early perspective around approaches to mitigate emerging risks. In working with overly complex, nuanced technologies that can do a significant amount of good, enclosed dangers should be taken over for efficient and ethical operation.
Despite the coronavirus pandemic, 2020 and 2021 was the most significant period for technology lawyers in Brazil
Easy? Certainly not. But necessary. To remain sharp on "technology law" and its path, we are continually learning, experiencing, and upskilling ourselves on the present and subsequent state and constantly iterating innovative approaches to move the needle to improve our skills and practice innovation.
The major challenge of law in technology is not in specific subjects but in working with such dynamic new standards of innovation in a country with a solid traditional legalese culture. As innovation processes will always move faster than the legal system, one must be prepared to face the "limbo of legal uncertainty," expanding our legal thought to a wide array of fields of knowledge and reconnecting legal services with financial, healthcare, IT, transportation, energy, communications, cyber security and all the other rising sectors of the post-Covid era.
If we want to extend the benefits of this Golden Age for the next ten years, we need to overhaul our business models and client-firm relationship. The significant digital shift in 2020 in most law firms needs to continue not under the banner of efficiency but also of "social responsibility." And I do not mean greenwashing this slogan with philanthropy on one side while forgetting that with our own.
That means that we need to put our associates at the center of our mission and care for an environment that can be challenging and healthy. Before our clients, there must be a transparent dialogue about the core values of the practice and how we can contribute to their cases within this humanistic approach.
Being innovative is not always to think with technology, but also to understand the signs of the times and prevent crashes with bold solutions. As tech practices can have this leading role within any law firm, our challenge is too.
About the Author:
Pedro H. Ramos is a member of Baptista Luz Advogados since 2010 and is currently the general coordinating partner of the areas of Technology Transactions, Media and Advertising and Data Protection teams, serving large communication groups, technology companies, investment funds and telecommunications companies. He is a board member of IAB Brasil, where he coordinates a series of professional training courses for industry professionals and where he also was chairman of the legal affairs committee. He was a visiting professor at Stanford Law School and has authored more than a dozen academic articles in the field of media and technology.
Phone: +55 11 3040 7050
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