Why should you become a New Media Lawyer?

Introduction:

Remember those Law and Order court scenes? I am sure many of you were inspired to be a lawyer just from watching those cleverly orchestrated closing statements.

Law is a very broad school of learning and if you choose to specialise in it, this is often a very difficult decision to make, as there are so many specialisations to choose from. Let us run through some of the types of law just to prove how broad legal studies can be.  You could pursue Environmental law if ecological issues are close to your heart.With the rising divorce rate and need to secure child custody battles it is evident there is a need for Family Law experts.For the litigators that like to argue their case in an effort to remedy an injustice or to enforce a legal right then Litigation Law is the answer. What about the most familiar type of law, the reason Law and Order was so popular in the first place, the practice of Criminal Law.

With Social Media ingrained in every part of our lives there is a new side to law. Yes, you guessed it! Aspiring lawyers are now investing their time into the field of New Media Law. There are not many experts playing in this space at this stage, as it is a new and relatively untouched area of law. There are however many debates happening online when it comes to aspects of New Media law such as: privacy issues, content licences and defamation of character on social platforms.

Job Mail decided to ask a local New Media Lawyer on why he would encourage law students to train in New Media Law. This local expert is Paul Jacobson. Paul is a Web and Digital Media Lawyer from Jacobson Attorneys.  He focuses on the intersect between the social Web and he has a firm grasp of social media platforms. He is particularly interested in open content licenses, privacy and protection of personal information, reputation management and freedom of expression on the Web.

Please read the below interview to learn more about why you should consider New Media Law or maybe why you should advice a friend to study New Media Law:

(1) Paul, what made you go into New Media Law?

The single biggest incentive for me was my passion for social media. I was one of the founders of a blog called chilibean which was, in its day, a relatively well known blog about social media in South Africa (at least, it was well known in the local blogger community). My partner in chilibean, VictoireOlwagen, and I eventually decided to retire the blog and that left me with a burning desire to combine my passion for social media with my legal practice. The result was a “new media” law focus area. The idea was that “new media” is whatever the emerging technology or trends are.

(2) Why would you advice young lawyers to invest in New Media Law?

Whatever you focus on or decide to specialise in, make sure you are passionate about it. The legal profession is tough and demanding, particularly in the early years, and the one thing that can get you through the tough times is your passion for the work you are doing.

(3) Do you think modern law shows like The Good Wife accurately depict new age legal issues? Let me give you an example: In one of the episodes, a fan of the one political party independently starts his own You Tube campaign on behalf of his favoured political leader. This campaign gets more You Tube views than the official rally campaigns. The politicians’ legal adviser visits the fan and kindly asks him to stop making the videos. The overzealous fan does as he is asked. He was touched that the politician had viewed his videos in the first place.

I’m not sure TV shows always accurately reflect real-life experiences but they do tend to touch on current trends, including emerging legal trends. I certainly wouldn’t use a TV show to decide what to do with my life. Your real-life experiences will almost certainly vary and will generally not be nearly as glamorous.

(4) Social media and politics are often intertwined. A good example is the recent London Riots and notorious Egypt social media revolution. Do you see politicians possibly hiring New Media legal experts in the foreseeable future to advise themin executing social campaigns and resolving social media revolutions in their climates?

I certainly hope so. It alarms me that politicians are trying to regulate issues they have very little understanding of. What people don’t realise is that the social Web exists within a very different paradigm. Solutions are often counter-intuitive and you really have to understand the social Web and this social media mindset to be able to function effectively in the space. Politicians frequently don’t have that understanding and do more harm than good.

(5) If there is any other advice you would like to offer aspiring lawyers when it comes to choosing a course in New Media Law please feel free to add these pointers here:

Nothing aside from reiterating that aspiring lawyers should do the work that inspires them and that they are passionate about.

Job Mail would like to extend its thanks to Paul Jacobson for sharing his insights into the field of New Media Law. Paul Jacobson is not only a local innovator but a legal genius and I am sure you all agree that his expertise and guidance will assist you in taking New Media Law to the next level.

Job Mail wishes you all the best with your job applications and if you have recently completed your law degree and are looking for a job remember to check out our Legal Industry category using your PC and once you have registered to Job Mail you can also apply for jobs using our mobile site.

Keep a look out for more local expert interviews on the Job Mail Blogand let the knowledge of SA specialists empower you.

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Olga

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