So much of what Jess was able to achieve during and immediately after law school comes down to choosing the right seat during UOttawa Law’s first-year welcome barbeque. That’s where she met Ian, and learned about his cutting-edge areas of research, and the way he involves students in his various projects.
Jess snagged a first-year research assistant position with the good doctor, and spent her first summer of law school researching the implications of Facebook’s (since improved) default privacy settings, and privacy concerns related to new technologies like Google Glass. She was also extremely lucky to co-publish an article with Ian in 2011 for the Stanford Law Review Online, which looked at how predictive algorithms are being used to pre-empt risk, in turn compromising key legal tenets like due process and the right to be considered innocent until proven guilty. Jess presented this research at a Washington conference hosted by the Future of Privacy Forum, which allowed her to rub shoulders with leading international experts in privacy law. In her last year of law school, she also worked with Ian on a directed study that looked at how Oliver Wendell Holmes’s “Bad Man” can be used to understand what constitutes a reasonable expectation of privacy.
If Jess could give one piece of advice to law students, it would be to reach out to professors they feel a connection with, and/or who work in areas they are interested in learning more about. Here are some of the advantages she gained from her time as a research assistant: practical experience engaging with novel, unresolved areas of the law under one-on-one supervision with field experts; exposure to different areas of the law (she never thought she would be interested in technology law, but found out she was dead wrong); chances to pad her legal resume; the opportunity to engage with professors in a more collaborative manner; and, most importantly, mentorship from some truly exceptional individuals. In short, Jess’ time working for Ian was a deeply enriching experience.
Jess will article at Torys in Toronto, then clerk for Justice Wagner at the Supreme Court in 2017/18. She plans to monitor both the promise and peril of emerging technologies, hoping to help society get what one of Ian’s favourite thinkers would refer to as more “honey” and less “sting”.