Nicole Ozer, BTLJ Alumni
1) What brought you to law school?
I wanted to be at the vanguard of lawyers working at the intersection of technology and civil rights. I studied comparative civil rights history in college and returned home to Palo Alto to work with low-income elementary school students just as the dot-com boom was gaining momentum. I realized that issues of access to technology and civil rights would become increasingly important. I sought out opportunities to learn more about public interest issues related to technology, found out that Berkeley not only had the strongest technology law program in the nation, but was also about to launch the Samuelson Clinic. I came to Berkeley and spent three wonderful years learning and growing with amazing classmates, fellow journal members, and professors.
2) Please describe the position(s) you held on BTLJ and when.
BTLJ Symposium Editor – 2002, 2003
3) Please describe your most memorable law school moment.
My most memorable moment happened in September of my 2L year. I woke up early to get ready for law firm interviews and learned that a plane blew up the World Trade Center. The events of 9/11 changed the legal landscape and the course of my legal career as the country and I became increasingly focused on issues of privacy, surveillance, and new technology.
4) Please describe your current professional position and your journey there.
I am the Technology and Civil Liberties Director for the ACLU of California. I have developed and directed the organization’s statewide work on the intersection of privacy, free speech, and new technology since 2004. In my position, I have spearheaded the passage of landmark privacy laws like the California Electronic Communications Privacy Act (CalECPA), filed influential cases and amicus briefs to defend and promote digital privacy and free speech, and designed and implemented national online privacy and surveillance campaigns. More about our work at www.aclunc.org/tech.
Prior to the ACLU, I was an intellectual property litigation associate at Morrison & Foester in San Francisco and I also clerked for a judge in the Northern District of California.
I am so fortunate to have the job I dreamed about when I wrote my law school admissions essay. It happened because of the Berkeley community. While public interest technology law was still a nascent field when I started law school, classmates focusing on both technology law and public interest law were willing to accept me equally and let me glide between the two worlds. I developed essential experience and relationships as a research assistant for the Samuelson Clinic for two and a half years, as a clinic student for three semesters, and in leadership positions for the Berkeley Law Foundation and BTLJ.
5) What are some lessons you learned from participating in BTLJ that are relevant to your professional life?
As the Symposiums Editor, I learned how to recognize emerging technology legal issues and bring together academics and practitioners to look holistically at the potential impact and explore strategies to address it.
Editing work also helped me understand how to develop my own law review articles and taught me that Bluebooking is not my forte and it is far better to have others on my team do it!
6) What advice do you have for current law students?
Do it your way. Put in the right effort early and make your own path. Don’t do things just because others think you should or say it is prestigious. That is a recipe for waking up ten years later, unhappy and asking yourself, how did I get there?
7) What is one piece of advice you would give to new lawyers?
Be kind to others and have impeccable follow through. It is a long career and you are building the relationships and reputation now that will be essential for any long-term success.