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Only in Detroit would you expect to find a law firm with a self-driving car practice.
America's traditional car capital is also home to Honigman Miller Schwartz and Cohn, a law firm with 300 attorneys. They are a long way from Silicon Valley, where autonomous car research is progressing, but the lawyers plan to pass the competition with their first-of-its-kind practice group.
"The establishment of an Autonomous Vehicle Industry Group made perfect sense for us given our tremendous experience working with clients in the automotive, technology, regulatory, manufacturing and privacy/data sectors," said David Foltyn, Chairman and CEO of Honigman.
The firm will represent clients in the development, investment, patenting, licensing, and use of emerging autonomous technology. The group will also advise them on the creation and development of autonomous vehicle research and testing facilities, the Detroit News Reported.
While the law firm is developing the new practice area, lawmakers have been legislating the industry across the country. It started almost as soon as test vehicles hit the streets.
Detroit's General Motors predicted robotic cars would take over by now, announcing that it would release a car with "limited driving capabilities" in 2017. According to reports, the carmaker has made 130 test vehicles so far.
Meanwhile in the Silicon Valley, Google's Waymo and Uber's self-driving cars are locked in litigation over the technology. Their lawyers, along with Tesla's, are leading the autonomous car practice for now.
Road Work Ahead
Plenty of lawyers will have self-driving car work to do in the near future. The driverless car already raises many issues, including:
Steve Wernikoff, a former Federal Trade Commission attorney heading the new autonomous car group at Honigman, says their lawyers will have to "navigate a broad spectrum of issues and potential pitfalls" in the field.