All Rhodes lead to Google
When University of Adelaide medallist Ben Allgrove left Adelaide bound for Oxford in 2001, the Rhodes Scholar was looking for a challenge. His search has led to Google, literally.
The son of an Australian diplomat, Ben Allgrove is an international citizen in every sense of the word.
Born in Paris, his formative years were spent in Indonesia, Korea, Singapore and Germany, before moving to Adelaide for high school and university, where he studied law and commerce, majoring in intellectual property.
The high achiever topped his final year at university, winning all the major prizes for LLB graduates in 2000, including the Stow Medal, and culminating in a Rhodes Scholarship the following year.
At age 24, Ben departed for Oxford, after experience as an assistant to the South Australian Solicitor General and an associate to a Supreme Court Justice.
He applied the same intellectual rigour at Oxford, topping his Bachelor of Civil Law (BCL) course before completing a Master of Philosophy on the Legal Personality of Artificial Intellects.
Ben's intellectual property knowledge led to an offer from one of the world's largest law firms, Baker & McKenzie LLP, who employ 3000 solicitors worldwide, with global revenues exceeding US$1 billion.
Today he works as a technology and media lawyer, based in the London office, and specialising in copyright, content issues, e-commerce, and information technology.
It's been a heady ride so far for the 29-year-old lawyer, who has successfully represented some high-profile clients in recent years, including Apple Inc. in its bid to get control of the itunes.co.uk domain name in 2005.
More recently, Ben has just finished a case before the UK Copyright Tribunal, acting for four leading mobile phone operators-Vodafone, Orange, T-Mobile and O2--involved in a dispute over royalty payments to artists on music consumed in a digital format.
His practice focuses on the intersection between technology and law, a huge growth area due to the dominance of the Internet and the cyber age.
"The Internet has resulted in a proliferation of copyright-protected content at precisely the same time as drastically reducing the cost of copying and obliterating the territorial boundaries which used to constrain infringement," he said.
"Copyright will continue to muddle along in the Internet age-the economic implications for rights holders are too great not to protect content-but we will more likely be looking to technology, not law, to solve the problems in the years to come."
Apart from his commercial work, Ben does pro bono work for a technology-based consortium, NetHope Inc., a non-profit group of member charities including Save the Children, Oxfam and CARE.
NetHope helps disadvantaged communities in remote and developing countries by sharing IT knowledge, deploying technology and communication services to affected regions.
Ben helped negotiate a global framework agreement to deploy satellite communications services. These services were used to aid workers in the wake of the tsunami in December 2004.
He is about to start a secondment at Google, the global search engine giant, assisting them with new products.
Sandwiched between his work commitments, Ben also teaches copyright and designs law at Kings College, London.
"It's not a huge time commitment but I really enjoy it and it provides a refreshing antidote to the commercial world. It allows me to stay at the cutting edge of legal developments and to bounce ideas off minds that are coming to the issues from a fresh perspective."■
STORY CANDY GIBSON