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Sophie Goossens

Sophie Goossens: Shaping the Future of Copyright and Technology

In today’s digital time, the intersection of copyright and technology has become a prominent point for legal scrutiny and innovation. With the exponential growth of digital content and the rise of online platforms, the need for robust copyright and technology laws has never been more critical. These laws not only protect the intellectual property rights of creators but also facilitate technological advancement, promote fair competition, and ensure the ethical use of digital assets.

In this sector, legal experts like Sophie Goossens play a pivotal role in shaping policies, resolving disputes, and charting the course for a digital future that balances innovation with protection. As a Partner at Reed Smith, Sophie epitomizes a profound understanding of the intersection between legal frameworks and technological advancements and embodies a commitment to excellence and evolution in her field.

Within the framework of Reed Smith, a global legal firm, Sophie finds a platform to amplify her vision of a legal sphere that embraces diversity, inclusion, and forward-thinking solutions. Her advocacy extends beyond the confines of the firm, as she actively engages in initiatives aimed at reshaping the narrative of gender equality and diversity in the tech industry. Through mentorship, advocacy, and a commitment to continuous learning, Sophie seeks to catalyze meaningful change, both within the legal profession and society at large.

Let’s explore how Sophie is embracing innovation in the legal-tech industry:

Journey Through Copyright and Technology Law

Sophie turned 18 when the internet was becoming an integral part of daily life, and she was captivated by its boundless possibilities and transformative power. As a music fan, she decided early on to study copyright and media law. The rise and demise of Napster further influenced her decision. Witnessing how an entire industry could be threatened by technology left a profound impression on her as a young entertainment lawyer, making her keen to work at the intersection of copyright and technology.

At that time, living in France, Sophie applied to the only law master’s program in the country, specializing in copyright and technology. After completing her studies, she worked for a large advertising agency and soon after for an independent label and music distribution company, becoming their youngest General Counsel at just 25 years old.

After spending several years in Paris, Sophie decided to relocate to New York City in 2012 and then to London in 2013 to continue her legal career in private practice. She joined Reed Smith as Counsel in 2017 and became a partner three years later, in 2020.

Balancing Client Trust and Enthusiasm

In Sophie’s view, success is equally measured by the trust clients place in her counseling and by the enthusiasm she feels for her work. She believes the team’s motivation, excitement, and self-accomplishment drive their success, leading to high performance. Throughout her career, Sophie has nurtured this sense of excitement by specializing in complex, sector-shaping, and highly strategic topics, and she encourages her team to do the same.

Overcoming Challenges in Legal-Tech

As a woman in the legal tech profession, Sophie has faced challenges common to many women in a male-dominated sector, such as navigating stereotypes and biases, building a network, and seeking leadership opportunities.

Like many other women, Sophie has always focused on excelling at her job and building credibility through quality work, which she believes helps with gender-associated challenges. She uses her voice to reject stereotypes and to reshape the culture step by step.

She is fortunate to have an amazing network of clients, colleagues, and contemporaries who inspire and support her every day. Her network and her sponsor within the firm have been critical in encouraging her to aim for leadership roles, first as a partner and then as a co-chair of the firm’s Games and AI Team.

Leading by Example in Promoting Inclusion

To truly prioritize diversity and inclusion in the workplace requires a multifaceted approach encompassing both personal and organizational commitment.  At Reed Smith, a working environment has been cultivated that values, rewards, respects, and celebrates everyone’s diversity.

The firm ensures that both equality and equity are applied equally across the organization, reflecting its core values. This approach has enabled Reed Smith to recruit a diverse workforce, allowing for the assembly of diverse teams to serve clients, thereby ensuring a broader outlook and perspective when advising on matters.

As a senior member of Reed Smith’s Entertainment and Media Industry Group, Sophie believes in leading by example and actively promoting diversity and inclusion in all aspects of her work. This includes supporting and participating in diversity initiatives within Reed Smith and the broader tech community.

For instance, she is an active member of the Women’s Initiative Network of Reed Smith (WINRS) and recently became a mentor in the firm’s Diversity and Inclusion Reciprocal Mentoring Program for Attorneys and Professional Staff. Sophie aims to be a strong role model for associates within the firm and for young females and other diverse lawyers in the global corporations she collaborates with.

She also formally mentors two female associates in the firm and one female student who is a bursary student of BLACA (the British Literary and Artistic Copyright Association) while informally mentoring, coaching, and encouraging dozens of others in New York City, London, and Paris.

Continuous Training for Innovative Solutions

Sophie is truly passionate about the sector she works in, so she has no issue finding time to read sector updates, news, and books. She is also an avid audiobook and podcast listener.

In addition to her own research, Reed Smith has a dedicated innovation team that actively researches and monitors new technologies that the firm can leverage including the latest AI tools.

Prioritizing Self-Care and Boundaries

Sophie understands the power of knowledge. She began her career at a record company of thirty people, assuming the role of head of business and legal affairs despite her lack of experience, which initially felt overwhelming. To bolster her confidence, Sophie focused intensely on building her expertise.

Immersing herself in her work, she dedicated long evenings to consolidating her academic knowledge. Her efforts paid off, as within a few months, her formerly inexperienced 25-year-old self-projected confidence and reliability. Sophie believes that once knowledge is acquired, confidence quickly follows.

Strategies for Maintaining Balance in a Demanding Role

She knows it’s not easy to maintain a work-life balance while navigating the demands of a leadership position in the tech industry. You must consciously manage the balance. She emphasizes the importance of consciously managing this balance, particularly as the demands of the role often blur the lines between work and personal life.

Establishing boundaries and prioritizing self-care become essential strategies. Sophie has learned to delegate tasks effectively, entrusting her team with responsibilities and empowering them to succeed. Clear expectations and communication channels streamline workflows, reducing the need for constant micromanagement.

Furthermore, Sophie prioritizes time management, allocating dedicated periods in her calendar for work, family and friends, and her horses. She finds that her horses and her farm provide the best work-life balance, serving as vital components of her well-being and resilience in navigating the challenges of her job.

Shaping the Future of International Law

As lawyers working in an international law firm, Sophie and her team are shaping the future of the sector with every contract they draft, white paper they review, and case they litigate. With this influence comes a sense of responsibility that they must embrace, especially in times of great upheavals and seismic changes such as those brought about by AI.

How does one ensure fair compensation for human endeavors in the age of AI? This question will be the defining issue of the 2020s, and there is much groundwork to be laid to ensure society

is prepared to engage in this critical conversation. The bitter debate between rightsholders and the tech sector over the fairness of including content protected by copyright in training sets reveals just how much work lies ahead to reckon with AI.

Sophie is committed to doing her part by actively engaging in education, sharing knowledge, and facilitating conversations on issues that she believes are essential to better understanding the issues at stake and fostering well-informed debates about AI and the future of the tech sector.