Baker McKenzie's Austria office has become the first law firm in Austria to launch an initiative which focusses in the issues of digital technology. The initiative involves establishing a team dedicated to the digital transformation, the launch of a new Digital Wave website, and the roll-out of a program of events, with the main aim being to support clients with their issues surrounding digital technology.

Just a few years ago, one could still argue that digitalization was an issue affecting only a handful of industry sectors. However, a scary suspicion has become a certainty: Digital transformation does not only turn the entertainment industry nor the telecommunications sector upside down, it is also starting to shake the foundations of the manufacturing industry and expanding its reach to the world of finance as well as the trade, logistics, and craft sectors. Journalists are now becoming affected, as well as lawyers and tax consultants.

Let’s keep it short: Your enterprise will be affected – it is only a question of time.

Austrian Managing Partner Alexander Petsche explains the motive for the initiative from Baker McKenzie's Vienna office.

"Whoever claims not to be interested in digitalization today will soon be overtaken by reality. We want to help Austrian enterprises to ride that wave. Laggards will lose while leaders will win.”

Previously, Austria was on the verge of sleeping through the fourth industrial revolution. The country is lagging far behind on an international level. One of the greatest challenges is the labor market becoming more and more flexible as a result of the digital transformation. "There is considerable uncertainty with regard to crowd working & co. and expensive mistakes are being made", says Philipp Maier, Partner and head of the Vienna employment law team. Lukas Feiler, head of the IT and IP team in Vienna, explains: "Most enterprises have realized by now that data protection is an issue. Monetization of data, however, is still in its infancy in Austria."

Thanks to its law firm network being the largest in the world, Baker McKenzie was able to recognize sooner than any other law firm which sectors will be affected by digitalization.
In fall 2016, the team started the digital magazine Digital Wave. It is driven to help you navigate the turbulent waters ahead. As a leading law firm, we want to provide answers to the questions your enterprise faces in light of the digital revolution. "That is why we are pioneers in Austria and are the first law firm that has set up its own team for the digital transformation."

While many entrepreneurs have taken the hint, legislators are still dawdling. Regulatory frameworks often date back to the days of the stagecoach, forcing the legislator to make hectic adjustments so that companies face new rules every month. Marc Lager, Antitrust and Corporate Partner, sees the team's main task in monitoring and analyzing the constantly changing legal framework conditions:

"New business models mean new risks. Our digital magazine is intended to provide guidance and orientation for the enterprises."
 

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