Spotlight: Law, Innovation, Security & Technology Society

Jeremy Gordon ‘20
Guest Columnist

That new technologies like drones, autonomous vehicles, cyber warfare tools and artificial intelligence are “disruptors”—that they can and are transforming markets, societies, and traditional approaches to problem-solving—is a common refrain. As these technologies reshape our world, they will also create some of the most pressing and most interesting legal questions that law students will face over the course of their legal careers. Lawyers will need to know, for example, if their company faces potential liability for a data breach based on the security of its data storage systems or whether using a hash function to search computer files violates the Fourth Amendment. Clients expect and a well-functioning legal regime requires that lawyers understand the technology underlying these types of questions. Too often, though, lawyers lack tech fluency—they may think they are too busy or that it’s too difficult to learn.

So in the fall of 2017, a group of UVA Law students came together to launch the Law, Innovation, Security & Technology Society (LIST). LIST’s mission is to educate law students about the legal issues that a range of complex emerging technologies pose, provide students opportunities to gain hands-on experience working on those issues, and launch them into careers at the intersection of law and technology. We accomplish this mission through our speaker series, education and training program, and networking opportunities.

All of LIST’s programming is intentionally designed to be accessible to students with a range of experiences, from humanities majors to hardcore coders. I did not have much of a “tech” background when I joined LIST. I joined because I was particularly interested in the implications of emerging technologies for national security law. Once I became involved, though, I could not help but be fascinated by the many opportunities LIST had to offer, and I decided to get more fully involved.

Speaker Series

In its first two semesters, LIST has been fortunate to attract leaders from government, the tech sector, law firms, and nonprofits who shared their experiences and introduced students to their areas of expertise, giving LIST members career advice tailored to our specific interests. Speakers have included a former cybersecurity director on the National Security Council, public policy officials from Uber and Verizon, and a prosecutor with the Computer Crimes & Intellectual Property section of the Department of Justice. LIST’s speaker events introduce students to cutting-edge legal issues, provide students with role models and networking opportunities, and are engaging and enjoyable while asking for little of students’ time.

On January 25, LIST is also co-hosting, with the Virginia Law Review, a symposium on digital democracy. The symposium will feature panels of speakers throughout the day on the role of technology in antitrust and competition, racial justice, and national security, and will convene leading experts in business, government, nonprofit and the academy, with the Virginia Law Review accepting student pieces for publication online.

Education and Training

LIST believes strongly that the most effective learning comes through practice. To that end, LIST started its own pro bono program, the first of its kind at the University of Virginia School of Law. The pro bono program is designed specifically for LIST members and is made possible through partnerships with nonprofits in the technology and cybersecurity fields—and almost all of our projects qualify for PILA hours. LIST has sponsored more than thirty law students, pairing them with organizations like the Global Cyber Alliance and the Future of Privacy Forum, which do innovative work in AI, smart cities, and more. The program culminates in a student panel at LIST’s annual spring networking event, where students who participated in pro bono projects have the chance to present their work to an audience of peers, professors, and employers.

This fall, LIST also teamed up with a group of students from UVA’s computer science department to host MetaCTF, an all-day cybersecurity competition involving technical, legal, business, and policy challenges. The event provided law students with no computer-science background the opportunity to practice solving coding problems, and meanwhile get exposed to fields like reconnaissance, cryptography, and web exploitation. Employers like Baker McKenzie, the NSA, Raytheon, and Capital One all sent representatives to meet the participants.

Networking Opportunities

LIST is grateful to have the interest and support of a number of employers in the public, private, and nonprofit sectors, who work with LIST to expose students to the ways in which practicing attorneys interact with tech issues and prepare students to enter practice themselves. Hogan Lovells, Baker McKenzie, Arnold & Porter, and Venable have all actively supported and collaborated with LIST. We also work directly with government employers who are interested in LIST members for their skills and interests. LIST recently hosted a panel of attorneys from the CIA on careers at the agency’s Office of General Counsel, and we look forward to hosting the General Counsel of the NSA, Glenn Gerstell, for a discussion of his office’s legal work and career opportunities in the spring.

LIST members will have the opportunity to meet attorneys from many of these organizations and others at our spring networking event to be held on March 27 of 2019. In addition to the student panel, in which our pro bono students will speak about the tech law and policy research they worked on throughout the year, the event will also include a panel of professionals, a networking reception, and dinners with firms in attendance.

My involvement with LIST has been one of my most valuable experiences in law school: It has informed my career goals, helped me take steps toward achieving them, and introduced me to an incredible community of students and practitioners who I can look forward to building professional and personal relationships with for years to come. LIST is always happy to welcome new members, so please do not hesitate to reach out to me at if you are interested in joining.