The Strategy of Cyber Law: A Degree For the Future

December 2, 2022

A Master of Legal Studies (MLS) in Cybersecurity and Data Privacy from Cleveland State University College of Law isn’t just another box to check on your career journey. This advanced degree constitutes a substantial investment in your future, both personally and professionally. Julie DiBlasio, Director of Graduate Studies and Professional Development, interviewed Professor Brian Ray and Professor Jeffrey Biller on the rapidly expanding Cyber Law field. 

Brian is the Co-founder and Director of the Center for Cybersecurity and Data Privacy Law here at Cleveland State University. Jeff, after decades of relevant and respected work experience, has been an adjunct professor since early 2021. Together, they deliver the inside scoop and explain the fine print of a career in cybersecurity and the advantages of earning an MLS. 

From The Air Force to The Classroom

Jeffrey was initially an intelligence officer in the air force, a role that dealt with many cyber-related issues. As the topics became more complex, the airforce put him through law school. He enjoyed prosecuting computer crime cases. Later, he had the opportunity for an LLM and chose to focus on cybersecurity. He still lacked one key element upon graduation: a firm technical understanding. He had to carve out that knowledge for himself over a number of years, so he applauds Cleveland State University College of Law for wisely covering all the bases in its immersive program. 

Though the learning curve was daunting at times, Jeff welcomed the opportunity to see the full spectrum of cybersecurity operations and advise on that entire range. He loves teaching everything that he himself learned, and after over 20 years in the air force, he became a full-time professor. 

The Strategy of Cyber Law

Jeff builds his course on the same foundations he used while employed by the airforce. He begins by addressing a major question: “What are our big-picture goals as the United States when it comes to cybersecurity?” He dives right into some strategy documents and threat reports to get his students started, then moves into more traditional computer crime topics like jurisdiction (and who has it). What are the rules that govern investigations and surveillance in cyber space? This is a very complicated area, especially where privacy is concerned, so it’s essential for students to begin mastering it. 

When they wrap up traditional law enforcement, it’s time to move into the national security realm. There are some crucial differences in how you conduct investigations involving national security purposes versus more commonplace law enforcement. In this portion, it’s important to understand the roles and rules of agencies, whether government or outside. 

The course then logically expands to International Law. Knowing the governing rules, permissible responses, and different actors are essential. Last but not least, Jeff factors in space for breaking news or students’ particular areas of interest, which keeps instruction dynamic. 

Career Advancement After Cybersecurity

So what kinds of roles are available for students who eschew a law degree and instead pick the MLS in Cybersecurity and Data Privacy? Jeff reveals that most issues we talk about on a day-to-day basis are not, in fact, handled by lawyers. Lawyers get called in when there’s something highly unusual, but ideally, it never reaches that crisis point. Say you’re advising a law enforcement officer on putting together a warrant for electronic surveillance in cyberspace: issues like this are handled by compliance officers or field operators. “It’s really quite broad because there is almost no area of industry or government now that doesn’t need to understand some of these rules governing data privacy, cybersecurity, and the interaction between private industry and government.”

Therefore, employers are looking for the elusive skill of translating between the technological and the legal languages with confidence. That’s a sweet spot where this MLS can help you stand out from competitors. 

Curriculum Breakdown

Now that you know the details of how Jeff expertly constructs his Cyber Law course, let’s fit it into the curriculum at large. Cybersecurity 1 provides a strong technical core knowledge that flows through Cybersecurity 2 and concludes with the Cybersecurity Technical Capstone. Whether or not you have a technical background, these courses will give you hands-on experience with the most useful tools needed to succeed in a cybersecurity role. 

On the legal side, we start with Introduction to American Law, a course created by Brian himself to provide a solid understanding that enables students to aptly move on to more sophisticated courses. The Legal Writing, Research and Advocacy will get into the weeds of how to both consume and produce legal materials. Then go deeper into the topics you’ll likely encounter as a cybersecurity professional with Corporate Compliance 1 and 2. Privacy Law and Management is the core legal course on the privacy side, and after HIPAA and Privacy, you’ll be able to navigate any privacy law, healthcare or otherwise. Finally, you have the pièce de résistance, Cyber Law, as taught by Jeff and previously discussed at length. If you’re starting to see just how prevalent and multifunctional an MSL in Cybersecurity and Data Privacy can be, we’re happy to answer any and all questions about Cleveland State’s program. Please don’t hesitate to reach out! Click the link to schedule a time to connect with Julie. We look forward to working with you!

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Important Dates

Apr

21

Application Deadline

April 21, 2023

May

08

Summer Session Starts

May 08, 2023

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