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Square One Law expands team to support NE Tech sector

Several regional cities are developing highly successful tech hubs and Newcastle’s is one of the fastest growing. To support that growth, commercial law firm, Square One Law has recruited a highly experienced team of Commercial, IP/IT lawyers who are able to help accelerate these digital entrepreneurs as they grow.

International lawyer, Helen Brain, originally from Durham, gained her specialist knowledge with US firm, K & L Gates in London and then worked for the Government of Dubai Legal Affairs Department.

Helen said: “I wanted to return to the North East as the region is building a significant tech hub. Strong in software development, technical support, gaming and creative services, the region is headquarters for FTSE 100 company, Sage. Ubisoft, the world’s third largest games publishers is also investing heavily in Newcastle and digital challenger bank, Atom is based in Durham.

“Tech hubs are only successful when they can attract and retain talented people who can make things happen and are able to meet investors easily. The North East has exceptional local universities which are renowned for their computing and design courses, an established investment community and a networking framework that has created a platform for tech companies to meet and germinate their ideas. When you get that mix of technical infrastructure, great ideas, investment and people with the skill sets to deliver results, it’s a very powerful combination.”

Other recent additions to the Square One Law Commercial team include, Michael Stevens and Sarah Lisgo. Michael was formerly a partner with Walker Morris LLP and has over twenty years’ experience advising IT and Technology Companies. Sarah trained and developed her career with Eversheds and more recently has been working in the United Arab Emirates with leading Middle Eastern firm, Al Tamimi, returning to work with Eversheds in its Doha office.

Michael said: “The North East is an incredibly vibrant local economy and has strong social networks that help create platforms for businesses to grow. We are seeing digital technology really driving the service and education sectors.

“Square One Law’s finance team recently assisted challenger bank, Atom, on the purchase of Grasp (UK) Ltd, to enhance its customer experience innovation through the use of specialist technology pioneered in the video gaming industry.

“Tech hubs attract smaller, often younger, competitors hoping to disrupt incumbent businesses with better service, more innovative products and the ability to respond flexibly to changing customer habits. The investment into the region’s technology sector is certainly helping with recruitment and accessing funding, which is a real challenge for other sectors in the North East.”

Helen continued: “We are currently working closely with a number of significant North East businesses who are selling IT and tech services nationally and internationally. Our role is to help our clients make commercially sensible decisions to inform future risk planning in areas such as the potential effects on long-term contacts, intellectual property rights and data protection.

“As the region’s tech network is developing we are seeing a significant demand for straight forward, commercial and specialist IP/IT advice. We are advising clients on important changes to data protection legislation in the UK and across Europe and navigating changes in intellectual property rights in light of Brexit.

“Key considerations for companies following Brexit include budgeting for additional costs of securing separate UK registrations of community trademarks and registered designs. Early preparations to ensure businesses have the appropriate protection will be essential to avoid loss of rights and unnecessary costs to businesses.”

Michael said: “I’m impressed by the tech infrastructure in the North East and the combination of the recent launch of the National Institute for Smart Data Innovation will enable businesses to extract value from smart data and increase competitiveness. Coupled with the work organisations like Dynamo provide to promote, develop and support tech R&D in the region and the role the North East LEPs have played, specifically committing funds to technology development, makes the region’s tech future very encouraging.”

Helen said: “As a team, what we find exciting about working with North East tech companies is that every business is unique and the sector covers a wide spectrum, from startups to FTSE 100 companies.

“I believe we understand how fast this sector is moving and the challenges it faces. Square One Law was only set up six years ago and saw an opportunity to be a disruptive influence in the legal marketplace. Our entrepreneurial and flexible approach is similar to many of our clients and we understand the challenges around scaling up. The firm has focussed on attracting smart lawyers with specialist knowledge and I believe our team’s combined knowledge in the sector along with our international experience can help our clients. Our aim is to sit alongside growing companies and help them develop.”

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