Work With Me

Maintained by James Grimmelmann
Current as of September 2022

I sometimes get emails from current and prospective students asking how they can work with me to study law and computer science. There are several ways, but which one is best for you depends on what degree program you are in.

Courses

I regularly teach three LAW courses. I sometimes teach topical courses, such as on digital copyright and on content moderation, but there is no guarantee that they will be repeated, and if I teach other topical courses in the future, they are just as likely to be on other topics. My regular courses are:

All of these courses are open to any Cornell graduate student, including:

Research Projects

If you would like to do a one-off standalone research project in law, there are three options:

First, I am always happy to talk to you and give informal advice on paper ideas. This includes potential student law-review Notes. Email me to set up a meeting.

Second, the Law of Software course is designed to provide structured support for writing law-and-technology papers. Students are encouraged to come in with a paper idea or ideas. If you would like to talk about possible projects, email me.

Third, I sometimes supervise specialization projects for teams of students in the Cornell Tech two-year dual-masters programs. If I have one available, it will be included in the list of projects circulated during the fall semester.

The topics on which I can usefully supervise research roughly correspond to my research areas. They include:

I also maintain a list of research ideas, but be warned that I do not update the list frequently, so some of the ideas on it may have been preempted. If there is a topic you would like to learn more about, email me.

JSD and PhD Students

I am a member of the Cornell graduate fields in Law and in Information Science.

Cornell Law School admits a very small number of JSD students each year. If you are considering applying to the JSD program, I highly recommend talking to me and other potential committee members as early as possible. Email me.

I generally do not take PhD students. My own graduate training is in law, I am most familiar with legal scholarship and legal academia, and I do not have steady funding to support students. There are other outstanding members of the Cornell faculty who have appropriate expertise to advise interdisciplinary law-and-X PhD students. You will be best off with one of them as your primary advisor and with me on your PhD committee. If you email me, I am happy to discuss the program options and to make recommendations.

Minor in Law

I regularly supervise PhD students doing a minor in law. This means that you have a primary PhD advisor in a non-law discipline and that I serve on your PhD committee. There is no restriction on the discipline. I have served on PhD committees in computer science, information science, and art history, and I am open to law-related proposals that align with my research expertise from students in any PhD field at Cornell. The only restrictions are the quality of the fit between our research interests and my available bandwidth.

There are two components to doing a minor in law with me. First, I will generally expect you to take three courses in law. These can include my courses, other LAW courses taught at Cornell Tech or in Ithaca, or certain non-law courses with a strong legal component. I will work with you to find appropriate courses that combine to make a coherent program of study that fits into your overall coursework.

Second, I can work with you to support your law-related scholarship. (This is optional; I am happy to supervise a minor in law that is purely course-based.) We will meet regularly. I will give you reading suggestions, discuss paper ideas, provide feedback on drafts, etc. If you’re working in a discipline where co-authorship is the norm, I’m happy to collaborate on appropriate projects; if you’re working in a discipline that expects sole authorship, I will remain in the background.

Postdocs

I regularly work with the postdoctoral fellows of the Digital Life Initiative. In addition, I sometimes have funding to sponsor postdocs of my own. These positions are typically advertised on the DLI’s opportunities.

These positions generally involve some research on particular topics driven by to the source of funding. (E.g., I have received an NSF grant to study the legal aspects of content moderation in end-to-end encrypted systems.) These topics will be described in the call for applications and I am happy to discuss what they entail before and during the application process. I will be an active participant in these projects, along with my colleagues and their collaborators, and they are intended to lead to co-authored publications.

These positions also generally provide time and freedom to pursue your own research projects. I will provide the same kind of facilitation and support I do for PhD students. This is primarily your research, and my goal is to help you publish high-quality work that you are proud of and that serves your career goals.

General

I direct CTRL-ALT: the Cornell Tech Research Lab in Applied Law and Technology. If you are interested in law and computer science, I will be happy to add you to our mailing list of law+CS events and news.

CTRL-ALT sponsors a weekly discussion group on law+CS, called Delete Cookies. We meet in person at Cornell Tech and via Zoom from anywhere. And yes, there are cookies.

If you are working with me in any of the above roles — anything from taking one of my courses to doing a postdoc — and the law+CS connection is of interest to you, I encourage you to join CTRL-ALT and to attend Delete Cookies whenever you are able to. In addition, if you are at Cornell Tech, you are welcome to participate in the weekly DLI Seminar. Many of the presentations deal explicitly with legal issues, and almost all of them are at least law-adjacent. Beyond Cornell Tech, there are many law+CS workshops and conferences, which you can read about on my resources for students page.

I am happy to provide whatever career support I can. I am usually willing to serve as a reference for anyone I have taught or supervised. Email me to discuss; I will tell you what kind of a letter I am able to write, and what information I need from you to make it effective. I can particularly help with going on the academic job market, and particularly in law, but I can serve as a reference for anything: private sector, non-profit, government, etc.

In Closing

This is a FAQ, not an encyclopedia. Many important questions are not asked frequently. And any question that is important to you is important to me.

My inbox is open. Email me. Email me. Email me.