A solicitor who had to sift through millions of online documents relating to miners’ diseases has set up the UK’s first digital law firm.
DigitalLawUK, which is based in Barnsley, was the idea of Peter Wright after he had to get to grips with the law surrounding data storage as part of the high-profile miners’ cases he was dealing with.
Peter Wright and Heather Anson of Digital Law
The firm, which he launched earlier this year with his wife Heather Anson, who is a US attorney, gives advice on digital issues from data protection and copyright to social media policies and Freedom of Information. DigitalLawUK, which is based in the Digital Media Centre, does not give advice on any other legal matters, making it the only such specialist company in the country.
Over the next few weeks Peter is speaking at conferences, mainly in London, on topics from cloud computing to the ‘right to be forgotten’ online.
Peter, who is chair of the Law Society’s Technology and Law Reference Group, said: “It is very different from many other areas of law. You can train someone in buying and selling houses and not much changes in 40 years, but we have to keep up with changes all the time.
“A lot of companies know they have to be careful with data, but don’t really understand all the complexities of the law. You can have the IT department saying one thing, HR another, marketing something else and the legal team caught in the middle, and the risks are not taken seriously.
“We can come in and look at it all as a whole and work out exactly what is going on and make sure everything is legally compliant. The alternative can be fines and damage to reputation.”
DigitalLawUK, which has clients, some of them household names, across the country, and even in Canada, is being given free advice by business support programme Enterprising Barnsley, which is run by Barnsley Metropolitan Borough Council.
The support has included digital marketing and branding, and advice on finance and HR matters.
Peter said: “Their support has made a massive difference. The people we’ve worked with have been superb and the Digital Media Centre has provided a supportive environment for the company since day one. Now we have ambitious plans to open DigitalLawEU in Brussels and DigitalLawUS in the States, so Barnsley is just the start.”
Steve Hawkins, of Enterprising Barnsley, said: “Barnsley is proving itself to be a place where digital and creative sector businesses can start up and grow. The combination of the Digital Media Centre as a base and the focused, bespoke support we can offer through Enterprising Barnsley means Barnsley is the perfect home for DigitalLawUK.”