Internet law is a fast-changing field that impacts not just those within the tech and legal sectors but everyone who participates in the global reach of the online world. As we continue to navigate the online sphere and define the rules by which it is governed, professors such as James Grimmelmann help spread understanding about the intersection between tech and law and how it plays out on the Internet.

Grimmelmann is a permanent faculty member at the University of Cornell. His unique position as a professor at both Cornell Tech as well as Cornell Law allows him to approach questions that stand at the intersection of both fields with the insight they require.

Academic Background

Grimmelmann’s interest in the intersection of tech and law stems from the earliest roots of his career in higher education. He began his academic career at Yale Law School, from which he earned a JD, and Harvard, from which he earned an AB in Computer Science.

With these two degrees in tow, he began teaching at New York Law School, the University of Maryland, and Georgetown before coming to teach at Cornell, where he has remained a fixture among the tech and law faculty since 2016.

In between his time in academia, Grimmelmann has been able to put both his legal and tech expertise to use. Following graduation, Grimmelmann worked as a law clerk for the office of the Honorable Maryanne Trump Barry on the Third Circuit of the US Court of Appeals. Grimmelmann followed this work up by returning to Yale and serving as a Resident Fellow for the university’s Information Society Project.

He also worked as a computer programmer at Microsoft.

Areas of Focus

As noted, Grimmelmann’s main fields of focus tend to fall within the online sphere and the legal boundaries thereof. These boundaries are still very much in flux as the Internet continues to grow and evolve, often faster than our laws are able to keep up with. As such, Grimmelmann’s work is very much concerned with that process of trying to understand and bring order to the often-chaotic realm of Internet law.

Internet Case Law

Notably, Grimmelmann is the author of a book on Internet case law, Internet Law: Cases and Problems. This case book helps students navigate several of the most common as well as particular online issues regarding the law. It has been updated regularly to keep up with changes in tech, the online sphere, and the laws that govern them and is currently in its ninth edition as of Spring 2020.

Featuring HiQ v. LinkedIn on the CFAA and State v. Austin on nonconsensual distribution of pornography,

One of the major additions to the ninth edition is a new section dealing with online marketplaces. As we continue to do more of our shopping online, law regarding our transactions in these spaces becomes evermore important. This is true not just of buying products online but hiring services or renting spaces. Companies and cases in this new section include Amazon, Airbnb, and Uber.

It also includes several new major leading cases in the field. Among these are the case of Knight First Amendment Institute v. Trump, regarding the president’s Twitter blocking. Also included is Commonwealth v. Carter, which deals with the case of death of Conrad Roy, who was driven to suicide by continued harassment and malicious, hateful, harmful behavior by this then-girlfriend Michelle Carter. The case caused a national sensation, and Carter was eventually convicted of involuntary manslaughter.

Cases such as these demonstrate the ever-evolving intersection of the law and tech worlds, and the ninth edition attempts to bring students up to date on where things stand while preparing them for the field’s fast-expanding future. It is also updated with new relevant questions and problems.

With a varied legal and technological background and a commitment to helping both however he can, James Grimmelmann’s work represents an essential juncture at an important time for both fields and the students and professionals who practice them.