Georgetown Technology Review fills tech law need in student publications

Georgetown Law’s family of 13 annual legal journals will welcome a cousin to campus this fall — the Georgetown Technology Review.

Though unaffiliated with the Office of Journal Administration, the online-only publication will draw inspiration from traditional journal formats: including student scholarship in the notes of articles, case comments and notes, with the addition of legal news and tech explainers.

“Traditional law reviews serve a very important purpose — they are incredibly useful and I think their continued longevity is evidence of that,” said Stephan Dalal, in charge of the technology side of GTR. “But something that is missing is pieces that can be read quickly and are easy to understand, but provide a high density of information.”

GTR is the brainchild of six students — Sara Ainsworth, Andrew Schreiber, Lindsey Barrett, Dalal, Edward George and Spencer Williams. It will be housed under the Institute for Technology Law and Policy, opening this fall.

“(Andrew and I) felt that there were a lot of journals that cover a lot of space, but there wasn’t one that was particularly for technology and so we attempted to create little niches within our own journals,” said Ainsworth, a 3L and co-editor-in-chief with Schreiber.

“We realized that if each of us could come up with the idea independently, there were probably a lot of other people who would want to be on board with this as well,” she said.

Ainsworth said the overall goal of the review is threefold: to create a space for technology-specific legal scholarship, to provide a practical tool for practitioners and to be a networking tool for students.

“The point is to push students to think really, really critically about the technology that they’re interacting with,” she said. “We have a lot of really great students coming from a lot of really different background and we’re trying to encourage them to pursue their interests as much as possible.”

Dalal said turnout for the inaugural publication was astonishing, with more than 70 students submitting applications to write for the review

“We have a lot of passionate people — 2Ls and 3Ls — who are genuinely interested in technology and law,” he said. “People who are willing to push the envelope in the way of questioning what could be better in terms of legal and technology scholarship.”

Although GTR drew inspiration from the traditional law journals format, Dalal said, it’s departing from tradition in a few key ways — specifically with the addition of the tech explainer, a brief breakdown of a complicated piece of technology aimed at educating legal practitioners.

“The idea is to explain to a lawyer or policymaker exactly how a complex type of technology works with sufficient detail — not to make them an expert, but to make them lethal,” he said. “In a way, we want to weaponize knowledge for good, because there is a real gap in fundamental understanding of how technologies work on a granular level that we think lawyers, decision-makers, policy-makers and practitioners in general not only should know, but need to know.”

Each issue will be built around a main article, focused on anything from credit card processing transaction to cell phone encryptions to natural language processing to autonomous vehicles.

“Our purpose is to choose topics that allow for a wide range of articles,” Ainsworth said. “Technology is so broad — by choosing these themes we’re hoping to narrow it, but not so much that we’ll limit it to people are interested in X, Y, Z.”

 

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