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To prepare the next generation of lawyers in understanding cyber crime, the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa William S. Richardson School of Law is offering a new class this fall Cybersecurity Law to teach law students how to responsibly hack into computers.

The class will be taught by Innovator in Residence Matthew Stubenberg in a role developed by UH law school Dean Camille Nelson. The position was established with philanthropist businessman Jay H. Shidler’s $1 million donation to start the Dean’s Innovation Fund, which allows Nelson to bring into legal education the type of innovative approach that drives business.

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Matthew Stubenberg

“I am grateful to Mr. Shidler for his generosity which has allowed us to emphasize cutting-edge issues at Richardson Law,” said Nelson. “These discussions better position our students and community to confront and address pressing legal challenges which have the potential to destabilize society. Cybersecurity intersects with national security and is clearly one of those areas of threat.”

The course is an elective available to second and third year law students.

“Cybersecurity law is impacting almost every company out there,” said Stubenberg. “As more laws and regulations go into effect, any company that has a website or collects data and payment information, all of it is potentially vulnerable to being stolen, which can incur significant penalties. Lawyers need to be aware of the importance and be in the room when making those decisions such as what data to collect and how to secure it.”

Hacking and data privacy

The first part of the class will cover cybersecurity and data privacy law. Students will examine the laws governing hacking and data security. The second part of the class will go through the technical aspects of hacking and stealing data. Stubenberg has developed a pre-built website that contains common vulnerabilities for the law students to practice and experience firsthand how a hacker goes into a website, steals data and controls servers.

“The goal is not to turn lawyers into hackers,” said Stubenberg. “However, this allows them to understand the types of vulnerabilities a company might have, to better communicate with the IT staff, and to ensure that any potential areas of risk are known and accounted for.”

Preparing for future cases

Stubenberg hopes that through this course, law students gain more confidence in working with technology through legal issues. He also wants students to gain an understanding that potential clients may have legal liabilities that need to be addressed with cybersecurity law.

“One of the goals here is to try and help students who might have innovative ideas in legal spaces that involve technology, implement their solutions,” said Stubenberg.

Stubenberg also teaches a course on coding for lawyers offered in the spring. Both courses are helping to expand cybersecurity law opportunities at the UH law school.

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