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Richard D. Harris timed it just right. Starting out as a technology consultant for Price Waterhouse in the 1980s, Harris soon realized that the technology people and engineers were not speaking the same language as their lawyers. So Harris, now a partner in Day, Berry & Howard’s technology and intellectual property department, went to law school, and now speaks both law and technology. He couldn’t be happier. “It’s a fun time to practice technology law,” he says. At about the same time Harris was at Price Waterhouse, William A. Perrone was talking about software at a boutique firm in Southport. Now he’s at Wiggin & Dana, talking about an e-commerce client base that’s grown seven-fold in the past three years. “I never had so much fun,” he says. Harris and Perrone are happy because the business of e-business is booming. Change is the only constant in the rapidly evolving field. Harris enthusiastically ticks off the latest developments. “One of the areas we are seeing tremendous interest in is Internet telephony, the use of the Internet to transmit telephone calls,” he said. “It’s a very exciting area, but presents interesting regulatory and technological challenges.” “Another area we expect to continue to present challenges,” he said, “is in the ownership and control of domain names.” The organization that administers domain names recently gave preliminary approval to a number of new Internet suffixes that will one day take their place among the already familiar dot coms, dot orgs, and dot edus. Harris said the new federal “E-Sign” law, allowing electronic signatures to create enforceable contracts on-line also should be a “real boon to e-commerce generally and especially” to Connecticut’s financial industry. Day, Berry’s clients, Harris said, range from start-ups immersed in the latest Internet technology to traditional companies placing a tentative toe in the on-line waters. “We have a seen a rapid increase in the number of our clients interested in e-commerce,” says Harris. “Clients from traditional bricks and mortar companies, to large financial institutions, to start-ups [recognize] the importance e-commerce to their future.” Wiggin’s Perrone believes the growth in e-commerce still hasn’t peaked. Perrone said Wiggin e-commerce practice has more than 100 clients, here and overseas. A big part of that is venture capital deals, he said, but much of it involves traditional clients turning to the Web. In an era when mom-and-pop garages order car parts on-line, Perrone said, “they don’t have a choice. If you don’t go this way,” he said, “you’re going to be a memory.” Perrone said large retailers are forcing suppliers to offer their wares on-line. “The bigger fish are putting demands on everybody else,” he said. “That becomes contagious.” Both Harris and Perrone say more on-line business requires more attorneys comfortable with change, and the new technology. Part of what makes e-law so enjoyable, agrees Perrone, is that “it’s always changing. The clients are very creative, very smart people. That’s what’s attracting young lawyers to this practice.”

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