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Law students working with Emerson

10:53 AM  Apr 23rd, 2018
by Danielle Damon ’18

“Traditional classes in law school focus on applying a set of cases and determined outcomes,” said Christine Carney, associate general counsel for Emerson’s Commercial & Residential Solutions business. “Many of the questions we are asking are new legal questions without defined answers.”

Carney and UD School of Law professor Thaddeus Hoffmeister co-teach the course Law and Internet of Things (IoT) at Emerson’s Helix Innovation Center in Dayton.

Not only the name of an academic course, IoT is a universal term that describes the network of physical devices (ie: cellphones, cars, home appliances, etc) that are connected to the internet collecting and exchanging data with one another. Essentially, any device that can be connected to the internet becomes part of the IoT.

In an ever-growing digital society, countless legal issues can arise, such as consumer privacy. In April 2016, The Helix Innovation Center opened with a vision for UD students, faculty and researchers to collaborate with Emerson professionals to develop solutions to such industry challenges.

The course’s seminar approach deviates from the typical law school approach. Students are asked to apply information learned in previous courses to in-class discussions and simulations prepared by Emerson professionals like Carney and guest speakers from the Emerson law department.

“For today’s simulation, think of yourself as in-house counsel,” Carney said to her class on March 23. “You can’t Google it and find the answer; this is the real-life version. You have to think on your feet and be part of the solution.”

Instructors introduce real-time issues, such as the self-driving Uber accident in Arizona, and task students to work under strict deadlines. In this particular class, students had one hour to research and develop a statement to deliver to the “press” while representing their respective “client.” Students then had to defend their statement during a simulated press conference.

“In classes like IoT and Social Media Law, it’s mostly theoretical because it hasn’t been around long enough to really get ingrained in our legal system,” said UD law student Meghan Pratschler. “Partnering with Emerson gives us a practical perspective on the ramifications of both new laws and no laws, and their effect on the business sector.”

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