Joe Mornin, Class of 2015

winston1) What brought you to law school? 

I’m a big computer geek. I started writing programming as a kid in the late 90s. Since then, I’ve been interested in how technology is reshaping the world in all sorts of interesting ways. During college, I worked at an internet research center (the Berkman Center for Internet & Society), and after I graduated, I went to work there fulltime. Legal frameworks were a key part of the research projects I worked on—things like the future of privacy, creativity, and innovation in the networked world. With so much disruption, so much is up for grabs. I wanted to be a part of it.

tl;dr: the internet needs good lawyers.

2) Please describe the position(s) you held on BTLJ and when.

I was editor-in-chief (2014–15), articles editor (2013–14), and associate editor (2012–13). I was also an adviser for the annual review.

3) Please describe your most memorable law school moment. 

I was cold-called during my first class on my first day of law school, in torts with Prof. Neil Levy. He asked me three questions, and I managed to give the wrong answer to all of them. I thought, oh man, this is going to be a long three years. Luckily, it got (mostly) better.

4) Please describe your current professional position and your journey there.

I’m somewhere between tech entrepreneurship and traditional legal practice. By day, I’m an IP litigation associate at Winston & Strawn in San Francisco with a focus on copyright and privacy. I’m also working on several tech projects. I’m the creator of Bestlaw, an app that makes legal research easier. I built Perma, a tool to archive online materials in court opinions and legal publications, which was acquired by the Harvard Law School library. Beyond law, I’m collaborating with researchers at UCSF and Stanford to crowdsource common scientific tasks, and we’ll be launching our platform and publishing a paper in the next couple of months. I was recently named to the Forbes 30 Under 30 and the Fastcase 50. There’s a bit more information on my website.

5) What are some lessons you learned from participating in BTLJ that are relevant to your professional life?

You can have a good time with the people you work with!

Also, great work is usually collaborative. It’s important to find people that you can rely on. It’s maybe even more important to be someone that other people can rely on.

6) What advice do you have for current law students? 

The term “networking” provokes eye-rolling (especially among non-lawyers) since it usually boils down to forming artificial relationships for personal gain. But law school, and especially BTLJ, is a great chance to show people that you really are smart and reliable. After you graduate, you’ll have a readymade network of people that trust and like you. It’s worth the effort.

It’s also worth saying hi to alumni who do what you want to do. They’re usually friendly and happy to talk, especially if you have specific questions.

7) What is one piece of advice you would give to new lawyers?

Can I give two?

  • If you don’t understand something, don’t skip over it—try to figure it out, and if you can’t, ask someone.
  • Even if you don’t feel like it, always go to the party.