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TAG Cyber Law Journal

May 2019
CyberInsecurity News: When did you start thinking about hosting a conference?
Robert Wilcox: The conference was put together this year in about six or seven months. About a year ago we were thinking that we needed to do it, but it takes a while to get the people in place to plan it. The serious planning began in the fall. We’re about to begin the planning for next year’s conference, so we’ll have a little more lead time. 

CIN: What were your hopes for the inaugural conference?
RW: My main hope was to put together a group of speakers that would be viewed as knowledgeable experts at a national level—folks who would bring in the expertise of government and the corporate world in this area. I was hoping for a conference that would reach those more familiar with cybersecurity while not being too complex for those who are just becoming aware of it. If there was a single hope, it was to increase the awareness of the importance of this subject—that it is not something, particularly in the legal field, that can be ignored.

CIN: How did you go about putting it together?
RW: It was primarily by putting together the task force that we drew upon—particularly people that [task force co-chair] Karen Randall knew to bring in from around the country. And then we used that group, with their wide range of knowledge and expertise, to identify what were the most important issues today and who the best people to come in and speak about them would be.

CIN: Karen Randall chairs the cybersecurity and privacy practice at Connell Foley LLP. How did her involvement begin?
RW: Karen is an alumna of the law school who came down to speak. In addition to our courses, we have a technology program about every two weeks. Many of the topics are cybersecurity-related, and Karen had come down to visit the law school and to speak at a class. It was the perfect opportunity—a moment when I was looking for somebody who would help us put together a cybersecurity program. 

CIN: We’re speaking 11 days after the conference. How do you think it went?
RW: I was pleased with it. I have learned a few lessons about some things to do differently—in terms of efforts to involve the audience more proactively. But my impression was the conference fulfilled my goal of making sure that people understand that this is not a subject that you can hide from and hope it will go away. And I think they got a lot of their questions answered about some of the big issues.

CIN: Are there any big-ticket items that you know you want to change or introduce for 2020?
RW: I don’t know at this point that I have any specific ideas for what the program will look like. One of the things I’ve learned about this area in my short time being involved in it is the landscape can change very quickly. And I want it to develop into the conference that you go to if you want to know the latest of what’s happening. I don’t want it to be last year’s news. I think we have to be careful to always have room for some hot topics fit into the program fairly late in the process.

CIN: Do you have any sense of whether your law students are particularly energized by cybersecurity and privacy?
RW: The honest answer is there is a small group that is very energized by it—they are very, very interested. There is a slightly larger group that is conscious of the concerns, and they’re very interested in being on the cutting edge of it.  I think there’s still a group—students and faculty—who have not yet fully become aware of how pervasive the subject is going to be in their careers.