At the heart of the legal sector for tech and cyber in the region

Promotional Business Feature. Pictured: Emma Hickson
Emma Hickson BPE

BPE Solicitors launches specialist IT and Cyber team

Technology touches every business and our use of IT is allpervasive, at home and at work.

With this ubiquity, comes vulnerability. Fortunately, there’s plenty of good advice from IT specialists to help companies protect their systems from the risk of hackers, malware and cybercrime.

Legal expertise in relation to IT matters is less prevalent, however, which is why the launch of BPE’s IT and Cyber team is so significant for the region’s business community.

Unique insight

BPE’s IT and Cyber team are specialist legal advisers with deep sector experience, accustomed to working in highly sensitive environments. Having all previously held roles within private, multi-national companies in the technology sector, the team can offer a unique industry perspective.

“We’re all passionate about IT and the cyber-tech industry at large,” comments Emma Hickson, who heads up the IT and Cyber team at BPE. “The tech sector is growing at an extraordinary rate both globally and regionally. There’s a real energy from the local cyber tech community and an infectious enthusiasm that we feel in our team too.

“That’s why it’s so great to be in a position to support firms of every size and business life-stage. We enjoy working for suppliers and customers in the public and private sectors and with companies of all sizes from tech startups and scale-ups to listed companies.”

Supporting start-ups

BPE has a great track record for advising entrepreneurial start-ups, drawing upon its specialists in Corporate, Commercial, IP, Employment and Property to help young businesses get off to a sound start. Factor into the mix the team’s IT and Cyber expertise, and that’s great news for the flourishing tech startup community located in one of the UK’s most prominent cyber hotspots.

In recent years, investment and development has taken place to build on the presence of GCHQ in Cheltenham and the unique skillset this attracts to the wider region. As a result, world-class accelerator programmes are now making their mark, bringing together those at the forefront of academia, commercial and public sector cyber expertise, sharing knowledge and collaborating with start-ups.

“We’re really proud to be involved in supporting the dynamic young businesses taking part in regional accelerator programmes,” says Emma.

“Starting a business is exciting but the pace moves quickly and making time to ensure everything is set up properly is a challenge,” acknowledges Emma. “We’re on hand to help founders feel more in control by ensuring that appropriate contractual and IP protections are in place and advising on spending prioritisation and fundraising to support R&D and scale-up growth. We genuinely enjoy working with and getting to know our start-ups and can offer flexible pricing and support options to facilitate affordable access to first-rate legal services.”

Prime movers

At the other end of the spectrum, BPE has experience of working with very large IT service companies, often referred to as primes. “Before joining BPE, I spent eight years working at IT services provider DXC Technology as an outsourcing lawyer,” says Emma. “There’s change happening within these very large organisations as aspects of legal services become digitised and in-house legal spend is becoming heavily scrutinised.

“Because our team at BPE has experience of working client-side for global IT service providers, we’re in a great position to offer specialist counsel, insight and even connections where needed. These businesses often supply into government and financial services and unlike many of our competitors, we have the experience to provide trusted advice on their business critical, highly sensitive contracts.

“The larger companies are often looking to invest in rising stars, so it’s great to be able to offer introductions to impressive start-ups that we’ve met. That’s one of the really satisfying aspects of being immersed in such an innovative, dynamic sector.”

Middle ground

If the start-ups and primes bookend the parameters of this diverse sector, then the mid-sized firms occupy the most extensive ground in between.

“Whether a business is reliant upon technology platforms, or is a tech provider to others, having really clear contractual terms is fundamental,” says Emma.

“Technology contracts can be complex, loaded with IT jargon and unusual clauses. Customers can be intimidated to be faced with pages of standard contractual terms from a very large supplier, and equally, the customer’s own standard terms are unlikely to be suitable for complex IT service arrangements. We steer clients through the procurement and contractual process providing pragmatic, commercial, risk-based advice.”

“Many of our clients work with cutting-edge technologies that attract the interest of larger companies who then demand to contract solely on their terms. This can be overwhelming for smaller suppliers and we regularly represent our clients’ interests in negotiations with large household names. Advising on and negotiating these complex contracts is a tough ask of even the best commercial lawyer, but it takes a sector specialist to understand the key areas of risk and how best to secure the most appropriate protections and this is where BPE is gaining a reputation for adding value”

Innovation

In an innovative tech environment, making strong personal connections and building trust is a key ingredient for success. Collaboration is embedded in the DNA of BPE, which is why the IT and Cyber team has a strong presence in the local and regional community. From hosting monthly networking events for individuals in the tech sector to sitting on local authority business boards, the team is both visible and accessible.

BPE is also a board member of Cyber Cheltenham (CyNam), a Community Interest Company that organises educational and social events to service Cheltenham’s active network of cyber tech businesses. “There’s a fantastic network of businesses working together throughout the region, with Cheltenham acting as a particular hotspot. CyNam is the embodiment of that collaboration, bringing people together to share insight and make connections.

“The IT and Cyber team has also supported the recent launch of Hub8, an exceptional workspace dedicated to those working in cyber-tech. Hub8 will be an important meeting point for the flourishing local cyber-tech community and we’re going to be popping in regularly to ensure people know there’s specialist legal help on hand if they need it.

“The ambitious plans for Cyber Central in the west of Cheltenham, will continue to build on our growing IT and cyber practice. Having all this on our doorstep makes for exciting times.

“We truly understand the needs of this fast-paced sector and we want companies to understand that the legal services market is evolving and doesn’t need to be expensive, painful, dull or reactive.”

Emma Hickson Partner, Head of IT and Cyber Team, BPE Solicitors

  • Joined BPE in 2018 Experienced in large-scale public sector and financial services outsourcings
  • Trained and qualified at Eversheds in London
  • Former Chief Legal Officer for Luup, the Norwegian mobile payments company
  • Former Outsourcing Lawyer for the in-house team at DXC Technology
  • Recognised by the Legal 500 for her expertise in advising clients in the IT and Telecoms sector

www.bpe.co.uk