BY DOROTHY GLANCY, PROFESSOR, SANTA CLARA LAW
IT'S THE STUDENTS
The Law Review’s 2012 symposium, “Legal Implications of Autonomous Vehicles,” is a perfect example of what law students at Santa Clara Law School are all about..
The symposium presented an unprecedented discussion of legal issues related to a cutting-edge technology. Although autonomous vehicles exist at present only in experimental prototypes, driverless cars and trucks will soon be on streets and highways in the United States. Santa Clara Law students continue to be leaders as they grapple with the issues of the future, and they are helping to lead this law school into our next century.
I had the pleasure of working with the Law Review symposium editors who put together this outstanding symposium, which was the first in the nation to focus on legal issues that affect driverless cars and other autonomous vehicles. When Kevin Rogan, one of the editors, came to my office last spring with a gleam in his eye and a great idea about exploring legal issues presented by driverless cars, I was happy to help.
Working with law students on the symposium over the past year made me think back over the decades of unique events that have each been organized and presented by law student editors of Santa Clara’s Law Review, our Computer and High Technology Law Journal, and our International Law Journal. This year I had the pleasure of working with students involved in all three of the symposiums. In addition to the Santa Clara Law Review’s “Legal Implications of Autonomous Vehicles” on January 20, the Computer and High Technology Law Journal presented its symposium, “International Intellectual Property—Is the I.P. World Flat?” on January 27. Then on February 3 and 4, the Santa Clara Journal of International Law held its symposium on “Emerging Issues in International Humanitarian Law.” Such a broad array of interests and expertise is typical of Santa Clara Law School and its students. It reflects the very special law students who come to Santa Clara and who, year after year, dream up and present great educational events featuring fascinating topics such as what the legal system can and should do about driverless cars.
The symposium presented an unprecedented discussion of legal issues related to a cutting-edge technology....Santa Clara Law students continue to be leaders as they grapple with the issues of the future, and they are helping to lead this law school into our next century.
After all, it was the students of Santa Clara Law who persuaded me to come to teach here in the first place. I was at Harvard University in a fellowship program when I was contacted by some friends about coming to Santa Clara to teach property, privacy, and land use law. I was already highly impressed by the Santa Clara faculty, which at that time included two alumni of the Harvard Fellows in Law and Humanities program, which I was about to complete. When I visited the campus, it was the active, inquiring law students who made Santa Clara stand out. I met law students from many backgrounds who were interested in my work on privacy and in what was at the time the new field of environmental law. Chatting about and plotting strategies for protecting privacy and preserving the fragile Bay Area environment, the law students persuaded me that Santa Clara Law was where I wanted to teach.
When I moved across the country to Santa Clara in the mid-1970s, the South Bay had only recently been called Silicon Valley—so named in 1971 when Intel launched the first microprocessor, the Intel 4004. I had some experience with technology, but nothing close to what I learned from my law students. The Santa Clara Law students whom I had met the previous spring found their way into my classes on privacy law and land use law. Many new Santa Clara Law students in my property classes reflected a similar optimism and can-do attitude. Having worked on the Watergate investigations for Senator Sam J. Ervin Jr., I knew that the future would have to be unlike the past. I also could see that the remarkable law students at Santa Clara would help shape that future.
Santa Clara Law students Tijana Martinovic (far left) and Kevin Rogan (far right) were co-editors of the Santa Clara Law Review Symposium edition and organized the national conference on Intelligent Transportation. Greg Larson (second from left), chief of the Office of Traffic Operations for the California Department of Transportation, was one of the many in attendance. Santa Clara Law Professor Dorothy Glancy (second from right), was an adviser to the student organizers.
One summer in the early 1990s I received a note—really a dare—from Professor Bob Peterson, then our associate dean. He had attached a flyer from the Federal Highway Administration about a competitive grant program for legal research into the interactions between privacy law and Intelligent Vehicle Highway Systems. Taking Professor Peterson up on his challenge, I found out what Intelligent Vehicle Highway Systems were by means of a DOS computer, the Mosaic web browser, and later, Netscape. I applied for and was awarded what appears to have been the first legal research grant awarded to Santa Clara Law School. My grant proposal was designed to involve as many law students as possible. Santa Clara’s law students carried out research, published reports and articles, and provided the catalyst for what is still regarded as groundbreaking research. The Computer and High Technology Law Journal published a special issue (Volume 11, Issue 1) on the research.
As the twenty-first century dawned, I was repeatedly asked to work on legal issues related to privacy and transportation. I kept the same policy: I agree to assist a project only if it would involve law students as direct participants. Santa Clara Law students are adept at the seemingly endless struggle to reconcile legal ideas, such as privacy, with often unpredictable technologies. As a result, our law students have always been indispensable team members in my privacy and transportation research and audits of transportation technologies.
Today, adaptive cruise control has joined antilock brakes in our cars. Automatic toll payments (via FasTrak) have replaced handing coins to toll booth operators to cross Bay Area bridges. We are now looking at the legal ramifications of driverless vehicles as well as at advanced communications systems that will permit vehicles to share safety data with other cars at great speed. These technologies were not even on the horizon when I began to teach law students at Santa Clara. It is gratifying to work with the generations of Santa Clara Law students who have led the pace as the newest of new technologies come down the road. That is why the autonomous vehicles symposium just held at Santa Clara caused me to think back about why I came here. It’s the students.