The Top 100 law firm Ashfords has offices located across the South West and employs just under 500 people including 70 partners. The Bristol office is where their team, who specialise in legal issues and disputes focussing on IT, are based.

Ashfords’ clients include Sensus, Notion Capital and Creditcall. We spoke to partner Chris Dyson about Ashfords, supporting the SPARKies in 2014 and their work in the IT sector.

Chris Dyson - Head of Ashfords Solicitors IT Law Team

Lawman: Chris Dyson, Partner in Ashfords’ Technology Team

TechSPARK: What legal issues relating to IT do Ashfords advise their clients about?

Chris Dyson: Ashfords’ Technology Team advises a broad range of tech businesses, from startups to multi-nationals. We have particular strengths in IT projects and contracts, IP protection, funding and acquisitions.

TS: What are the most frequent IT issues arising which require legal assistance?

CD: The written law doesn’t evolve anywhere near as fast as technology but its commercial application has to, so understanding our clients’ business and marketplace is vital. We work closely with tech companies and buyers of technology to ensure their key interests are both legally and commercially protected.

“We have been passionate supporters of the Bristol and Bath tech hub for years and are committed to developing the region’s reputation”

 

The team has one of the largest IT and IP offerings in the South West, regularly dealing with data protection and cyber security, customer and supply contracts, technology transfers and licences of technology, intellectual property, distance selling, e-commerce, B2B and B2C contracts, IT project management, service levels and corporate governance. We advise on classic fully specified and agile approaches to delivering technology solutions.

TS: Ashfords is predominantly based in the South West, what do you believe the benefits of this location are to your practice?

CD: Ashfords has always been based here, it is where we have thrived and grown to become a leading law firm with five offices situated across the region.

We have a presence in London, but remain committed to the South West with our headquarters and hundreds of employees located in the region. We also have extensive international links through a global network that we founded and have significant experience helping clients protect and exploit their technology overseas.

TS: Does Ashfords have any plans to expand further?

CD: As one of the largest law firms in the South West we are very well set to support our clients, but we are always actively recruiting fresh talent to complement and develop our existing teams of specialists. We also run an award-winning training programme, making significant investment in developing future talent.

TS: You’re one of the primary sponsors of the SPARKies this year– what’s the reasoning behind this?

CD: We have been passionate supporters of the Bristol and Bath tech hub for years and are committed to developing the region’s reputation. A lot of people have worked hard to deliver some great momentum – it is now critical that we all work together to seize this opportunity to build a sustainable reputation for the future. The SPARKies is a fantastic opportunity to bring people together from across the region and show the world what we can do.

TS: Ashfords are very active in the community generally, apart from the ‘SPARKies’ what other tech-focussed events and general events can we expect to see Ashfords at?

CD: As long-term supporters of the SPARKies team we are working together to provide blogs, workshops and thought leadership debates. With tech clients throughout the UK and overseas, we use this experience to help develop businesses in the South West. For example, our nationally-ranked venture capital practice advises numerous investment funds in the tech sector – this puts us in a great position to share our experience with emerging companies in the region.

”With tech clients throughout the UK and overseas, we use this experience to help develop businesses in the South West”

 

Our role within the local community is also reflected through our dedicated Corporate Social Responsibility programme. This programme means a lot to us – as well as a number of green initiatives, we run a lot of activities to raise money and awareness for our charity of the year, currently Children’s Hospice South West, and other great causes.

TS: What do you consider the Ashfords’ IT team’s greatest successes to be?

CD: Our South West team are proud to have worked on some exciting projects within the region and flying the flag further afield. Examples of these projects being:

  •  Advising US cleantech giant Sensus on its successful bid for the UK smart meter roll-out.
  • Advising on a number of acquisitions, including the sales of Shutl to eBay, Ubervu to Hootsuite and Blinkbox to Tesco.
  • Advising a syndicate of investors, including Eden Ventures, Notion Capital, MMC Ventures and Highland Capital on investment rounds totalling over $100m in cloud contact solution provider Newvoicemedia.
  • Advising the South West Grid for Learning Trust on its Cloud Services IT public procurement for the education sector and on the protection and distribution of its award winning e-safety tools.

Thanks to Chris Dyson for taking the time to talk to TechSPARK about Ashfords. Catch up with them at the SPARKies in November. Keep up to date with developments at Ashfords by following them on Twitter and checking out their news page

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Louise Trimby