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Zachary Briggs
Zachary Briggs

Like the technology industry it embraces, the Law + Informatics Institute at Chase College of Law is upgrading to a new version.

“The Law + Informatics Institute is being reimagined and reinvigorated to spotlight the import of data gathering, protection and dissemination in the modern business ecosystem,” says Dean Judith Daar, Ambassador Patricia L. Herbold Dean of Chase College of Law. The institute was created in 2011 – a year after the arrivals of Instagram as a social media platform and the now ubiquitous iPad – with a broad focus on how law and information technology intersect. A lot has changed since then, both in technology and at Chase.

Three years after the institute was created, Chase launched the W. Bruce Lunsford Academy for Law, Business + Technology, with a gift from alumnus W. Bruce Lunsford, to enhance instruction in fields increasingly interrelated in law practices. Now, the reimagined Law + Informatics Institute and the Lunsford Academy operate in tandem, yet with distinct approaches.   

 “The Lunsford Academy’s emphasis on multidisciplinary aspects of law, business and technology will be enhanced by this branch program’s expertise and analysis of the science of information,” Dean Daar says.

Programming for the institute is directed by Zach Briggs, a 2016 Chase graduate who oversees data protection, privacy and compliance at Paycor, a Cincinnati-based human capital management software company, and who serves as special adviser to the institute. He is approaching his role with a big-picture perspective and a focus on easy access for participation.

“In today’s global, dispersed economy, firms more than ever are looking for talented individuals who can guide them through the complexities created by the intersection of law and information,” he says. But where there is a need, there is not always available talent. And that is where the Law + Informatics Institute steps in.

“I think students will quickly find the value of this niche and will be surprised at how interesting it is and how interested firms are in them as a result of their education in it,” Mr. Briggs says. “As a board member of the Association of Corporate Counsel in Cincinnati, I see this demand in real time at our CLE events, which more and more are about law and informatics, regardless of the practice area. Employment lawyers deal with sensitive employee information on laptops, for example, insurance lawyers are crafting cyber-liability insurance packages and contract lawyers are negotiating cloud-based software packages that can make or break their companies.”

As with other initiatives during a global pandemic, the launch of Law + Informatics Institute programming has been virtual (but, then, that is the technology for which it exists). Among its first offerings this past autumn was a series of “Ask Me Anything” online sessions, in which participants could pose questions to such panelists as the senior counsel of the maker of Purell hand sanitizer, the assistant general counsel of Buzzfeed internet news and entertainment company, and a co-chair of the privacy and data security practice at Taft, Stettinius & Hollister in Cincinnati.

Coming up will be cybersecurity and data privacy courses as part of the Chase curriculum. The Information and Corporations course will survey the relation of information and law, Digital Privacy and Security will explore existing law and needed laws, and Information and Data Privacy will look at rights to control personal data in situations such as health care and financial services.

Beyond the classroom, the institute has plans to develop a student team to compete with other law schools in cybersecurity and privacy law competitions.

Unlike software upgrades that are often needed to fix security flaws, the upgrade of the Law + Informatics Institute is designed to prepare students and program participants to operate flawlessly in a field that has changed dramatically since the institute was launched a decade ago.