Ottawa lawyers make case for IT

IT experts are making time in their schedules to take part in a series of roundtables organized by a group of legal professionals in Canada’s capital city.

The recently-formed Ottawa Technology Lawyer’s Group (OTLG) is scheduled to host its first event, The CIO’s Perspective, on Sept. 17.

Guests will include Alcatel CIO Steve Goldberg and federal CIO Michelle D’Auray, who will take part in a panel discussion with about 20 lawyers on managing IT in their organizations.

Grant Jameson, an Ottawa-based lawyer and the OTLG’s first chair, said the group will provide a forum for his peers to discuss topical issues that address both internal IT use as well as privacy, financing and e-commerce.

“”There are a number of organizations, or I guess programs, that exist in town which are seminar-based, but they tend to be lecture-oriented sessions,”” he said. “”They tend to be a lunch speaker who stands up and there’s an opportunity for questions, but it’s not really an opportunity for discussion.””

Michael Kelly, a lawyer in the business law practice of Ogilvy Renault’s Ottawa office, said the legal profession is evolving from its reputation as a reluctant IT user.

“”There are pockets of the profession that are resistant to change, but those are few and far between,”” he said. “”It’s hard to operate in our environment now without buying into technology. There are more and more lawyers that are making that a major part of their practice.””

Potential OTLG members must be lawyers with a technology practice or an interest in technology. They may become advocates or experts within their organization, Jameson said.

“”I think it’s hard to get non-technology lawyers interested in those areas until their clients suddenly have a problem,”” he said, pointing to the confusion around Canadian federal and provincial privacy laws. “”Most lawyers out there who have a straight business practice or who aren’t involved in technology may be vaguely aware of privacy issues, but they don’t know how it’s going to impact on their clients.””

The group is hoping to keep the sessions to a reasonable size so that all participants have a chance to join the discussion, Kelly said, though it will likely draw senior partners from many of Ottawa’s biggest firms.

“”Hopefully it won’t be a victim of its own success in terms of generating too many people, but we’re going to try and keep the numbers relatively small,”” he said.

Following next week’s meeting, the OTLG will host a session on Oct. 24 called The Latest on Financing Technology Companies and one on Nov.19 called Internet and E-Commerce Law Update.

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