Interview: Working in Tech Law with Jacqueline Spagnola

Written by Sallie Oliver, Guest Contributor

Jacqueline Spagnola is an intellectual property attorney with Cantor Fitzgerald. Spagnola has worked with DreamWorks, Sony Music Entertainment, Universal Music, Paramount Pictures, and CHANEL. Additionally, she has collaborated with Jonathan Askins at the Brooklyn Law Incubator & Policy Clinic. Guest contributor Sallie Oliver sat down for a conversation with Spagnola to get her thoughts on practicing in a field that blends technology and law.

Sallie Oliver (SO): What was it like for you when beginning to dive into “tech law” when you have many careers paths available? Why this field at this time?

Jacqueline Spagnola (JS): I believe that we are currently in the age of technology, which made technology law a very obvious career path to choose. Initially, I was enthralled with intellectual property law and the defending of intangible goods of such great value. Every single day new technology is being introduced into the world, which will directly affect the previous treatment of IP rights, and the need for new laws to continue to protect such rights excites me.

New technology in relation to data transfers on an international scale is also a very exciting issue [that] I have greatly focused on in my early career and has been a main reason why I chose to pursue an international career. I also feel that there is limitless possibility to make a career for yourself in this field since it is a very pressing and current issue. There is less disadvantage of being a junior attorney in a field that is still constantly developing since there are no “masters” or seasoned “experts.”

SO: Do you think emerging lawyers should be learning [programming languages like] Java in order to better communicate with this Digital Information or to edit smart contracts?

JS: I believe it would certainly give an advantage to technology attorneys since there is often a disconnect between attorneys and programmers/IT professionals when properly wording a contract to include the desired terms. Java is [a programming] language, which is translated to attorneys who then attempt to translate that conversation into the legal language. Here is the risk of misinterpretation and loopholes in contracts where precision in drafting is paramount.

SO: How can someone interested in tech+law work smarter to keep up with current trends?

JS: I try to stay abreast of new legal trends by following the sources themselves. I am constantly following new technology blogs and inventions and forming my own opinion and reading other influential opinions on the potential legal implications.

I also follow certain groups on interest on LinkedIn and read up on the articles [that]interest me. The absolute best way to keep up with current trends, however, is to engage in conversation as often as possible and listen to pressing issues from other professionals at Legal Meetups.

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