University of Pittsburgh

Faculty News

Thursday, February 6, 2014 - 10:36am


The University of Pittsburgh School of Law has hired Assistant Professor David Thaw, a law and technology expert and frequent presenter on issues of cybersecurity, privacy regulation, and cybercrime. In addition to his position at Pitt Law, he will hold a secondary faculty appointment at the School of Information Sciences (SIS), further leveraging the interdisciplinary offerings of both schools. Thaw is currently an affiliated fellow of the Information Society Project at Yale Law School and a visiting assistant professor at the University of Connecticut School of Law. Thaw will assume his position at Pitt on July 1, 2014.

David Thaw

“Professor Thaw’s teaching and scholarship at the intersection of law and technology, particularly with regard to privacy, information security, and cybercrime, is highly regarded and will further enhance our already-strong intellectual property program and Innovation Practice Institute,” said Pitt Law Dean William M. Carter Jr. “The fields of privacy and information security are growing areas of legal practice and employment, and Professor Thaw’s presence will therefore provide tremendous benefits for our students.

“They are also areas of strong regional excellence, as evidenced most recently by U.S. Attorney David Hickton’s announcement in May 2013 of the Pittsburgh Cyber Security Initiative, which will be a public-private collaboration to fuse regional resources to address these pressing issues. We are delighted to have Professor Thaw join us.”

Ronald Larsen, SIS dean and professor, agrees. “We have followed David’s academic trajectory now for a couple of years and have been consistently impressed with his scholarly insights and rigorous analysis of extraordinarily complex legal issues involving information systems. We are thrilled to welcome him to the Pitt faculty.”

Thaw earned his JD at the University of California (UC), Berkeley, School of Law. He holds a PhD in information management and systems and an MA in political science, both from UC Berkeley. He earned undergraduate degrees in government and computer science at the University of Maryland, College Park. Professor Thaw practiced cybersecurity and privacy regulatory law at what was then Hogan & Hartson in Washington, D.C., was a research associate with the University of Maryland computer science faculty and Maryland Cybersecurity Center, and is a technology entrepreneur. Thaw has taught courses in the areas of cybersecurity, privacy, and administrative law while at the University of Connecticut.

In addition to testifying before the U.S. House of Representatives regarding his work in cybersecurity regulation, Thaw has conducted in-depth interviews with chief privacy and information security officers at major U.S. firms as part of a research project. His current projects examine the efficacy of cybersecurity regulation and reform of cybercrime statutes. Thaw has authored numerous articles in publications such as the Washington Law Review, Duke Law & Technology Review, Georgia State University Law Review, and Yale Law Journal Online.

“I am absolutely delighted to be joining the University of Pittsburgh,” said Thaw. “There are very few universities in the world that could put together the research and teaching opportunities Pitt Law and the School of Information Sciences have developed. This collaboration will allow Pitt students to receive training available in very few places and both schools to collaborate on answers to important law, policy, and technological questions that have worldwide impact.”


Tuesday, February 4, 2014 - 11:05am

Professor John Burkoff was mentioned in a Pittsburgh Post-Gazette article and a Toledo Blade article about the one-million dollar bond set for an accused person who killed a police dog. Realistically, a bond set at $1 million, said Burkoff, is the same as denying bond.

“Bail is supposed to be used strictly to ensure that the accused shows up for judicial proceedings,” Mr. Burkoff said. “Bail of $1 million is unusually high, even in a homicide case. Effectively, for most people, it’s the equivalent of no bail at all because most people can’t arrange for that kind of bond.”

Burkoff also said he would expect that the amount would be lowered.

Read the full Toledo Blade article here and the full Post-Gazette article here.   


Thursday, January 30, 2014 - 3:59pm

Professor David Harris told National Public Radio's Fronteras Project about the costs of court-ordered changes for the Maricopa County (Phoenix), Arizona Sheriff's Department. Maricopa Sheriff Joe Arpaio and his agency were found liable for multiple forms of discrimination in law enforcement against Latinos, and the court-ordered remedies, including the appointment of an independent monitor and large-scale structural reforms, will cost over twenty million dollars. Arpaio and his allies have complained, but Professor Harris says the cost is the direct result of years of unchecked bad behavior by the Sheriff's Department; the upside is that the prescribed changes could remake the Department into a much better and more effective organization. 

The Fronteras Project produces stories on the changing face of the nation as seen in the American Southwest.  Read the full story or listen to the audio clip here.  



Monday, January 27, 2014 - 9:43am

An oversight panel in the federal judiciary has referred a misconduct complaint against a recently retired federal judge to the Public Integrity Section of the Department of Justice. Pitt Law Professor Arthur D. Hellman commented on this unusual development in stories published in the ABA Journal, the Louisville Courier-Journal, and the Cincinnati Enquirer. “That is stunning,” Hellman said. “I’m still trying to absorb [the fact] that the federal judiciary has referred one of their own judges to the public integrity section.” The proceeding began when the current chief judge of the Sixth Circuit initiated a complaint against fellow Judge Boyce Martin asserting that he had requested and received reimbursement for questionable travel expenses. The complaint was transferred to the Judicial Council of the Second Circuit, which initiated an investigation. Two weeks before a scheduled hearing by the investigating committee, Judge Martin resigned from the bench. In light of that resignation, the Judicial Council concluded the proceeding but referred the matter to the Department of Justice.

Read more details here and here.  


Friday, January 24, 2014 - 4:43pm

The Pittsburgh Business Times published an article Friday by Pitt Professor of Law, Michael Madison. The article titled, “Getting to lawyers who say ‘yes, and …’” relates how Pittsburgh needs more lawyers versed in innovative businesses to help startup companies bring their ideas to fruition. Madison - who in the 1990s was a Silicon Valley lawyer before later coming to Pittsburgh - is now the Faculty Director of the Innovation Practice Institute at Pitt Law.

An innovation-minded lawyer in many ways means a lawyer with interdisciplinary acumen, meaning they’re able to “synthesize their knowledge of multiple areas of the law,” Madison writes, and hold a deep understanding of their clients’ businesses, markets and visions.

“In 2009, we established the Innovation Practice Institute in Pitt’s School of Law to teach our students how to become innovation lawyers,” Madison states in the article. “Pittsburgh has lots of lawyers well-versed in the intricacies of employment law, patent law and corporate finance. It has too few lawyers who are innovation lawyers at prices that startup ventures can reasonably afford.”

Learn more about the Innovation Practice Institute at Pitt Law here

Thursday, January 23, 2014 - 2:54pm

The University of Pittsburgh School of Law offers endowment funds. Funding for the endowments come from generous donations from various sources (alumni, law offices, attorneys, professors, etc.).  For continuing students to be considered for any endowment, students must submit the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) and the Endowment Scholarship Worksheet by the deadline of April 1st.  The Endowment Scholarship Worksheet must be completed online at (Student Resources).  The FAFSA can be completed online at using your U.S. Department of Education PIN and the University of Pittsburgh's school code 008815.  

Thursday, January 23, 2014 - 2:45pm

First Amendment Law has a long history of importance to the academic legal community as well as all citizens of this country.  Given the legal and policy concerns and possibilities created by applying First Amendment Law to traditional areas as well as new technologies such as the Internet, it remains essential today to demonstrate how scholarly legal writing, research, and legal work generally can awaken and inform public awareness of the profound issues at stake.

This Fellowship was created to provide funding for one J.D. student with a special interest in and demonstrated talent for analysis of legal and public policy issues concerning First Amendment Law.  The fellowship appointment will be for one year with an award of $10,000.  The selection of the fellow will be made by a committee after reviewing the application along with the required supporting documents.  All incoming first year, rising second and third year students are eligible to apply.  The deadline for application is March 1st.

Thursday, January 23, 2014 - 2:32pm

The University of Pittsburgh Law Alumni Association (UPLAA) was established in 1986. It aims to enhance the interest of the School of Law and its alumni through the establishment of student scholarships and a variety of activities that recognize and support the Law School, its alumni and current students. The UPLAA operates by its Board of Governors, which consists of a broad range of alumni.

Each year the University of Pittsburgh Law Alumni Association awards scholarships to three outstanding law students entering their final year at Pitt Law School. The UPLAA scholarship is awarded for the final year of law school in the amount of $5000 per student and will be paid directly to the Law School. 

The UPLAA Scholarship committee will review all complete applications. Consideration is given to academic performance, dedication to the Law School community, participation in community service and public interest support, intent to work in the public sector or with public interest law, commitment to providing Pitt Law School alumni involvement, and financial need. Financial need is often a determining factor in the event there are many outstanding and qualified candidates. Select finalists must interview with the UPLAA Scholarship committee in order to be considered in the final selection process for the UPLAA Scholarship. 

Class of 2015 students interested in applying for the UPLAA Scholarship should submit a completed UPLAA Scholarship application, cover letter and resume, unofficial law school transcripts, and a summary of all educational debt.  The application is attached to this email and are also available online by clicking hereApplications and supporting materials must be submitted to the School of Law Financial Aid Office in Room 203 no later than 5:00 PM on Wednesday, March 19, 2014. 

Tuesday, January 21, 2014 - 3:52pm

Will the United States Supreme Court soon decide whether states are required by the Constitution to recognize same-sex marriages? That may depend on how two pending cases are decided by the little-known Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals, Pitt Law Professor Arthur D. Hellman told the Wall Street Journal. “The 10th Circuit’s ruling would … likely affect whether the high court takes up the matter later this year, according to experts. ‘The Supreme Court generally doesn't like to get involved in political or social issues until it absolutely has to,’ said Arthur Hellman, a law professor at the University of Pittsburgh and an expert on the federal judiciary.” The Journal story, about a “sleepy court” that “is about to get its turn in the limelight,” was published on Jan. 17, 2013.

Read the full article here.  

Tuesday, January 21, 2014 - 3:16pm

Writing in The Nation Magazine, Professor David Harris discussed the most important steps that New York's new mayor and police commissioner can take to restore public trust and confidence in the New York York Police Department after the decision in the NYPD stop and frisk case. In "Ten Steps Bill de Blasio and Bill Bratton Should Take to Fix Stop-and-Frisk," Professor Harris outlines concrete actions for the new administration that will help the city and the Police Department comply with the court's ruling, do better police work and repair the Department's damaged relations with New York's communities of color.

Harris's piece in The Nation is here.

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