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Getting a Tech LLM: Is It Worth It?

As technology continues to transform our economy and culture, businesses need a new breed of lawyers who understand the legal and commercial aspects of technology. There is a specific need for lawyers skilled in bringing new products and new companies to market. 

Cornell Tech’s Master of Laws (LLM) in Law, Technology, and Entrepreneurship is the first degree program of its kind in the world. It aims to develop core business and leadership skills necessary to meet the needs of tech and tech-dependent industries in a business-focused and holistic fashion. The Cornell Tech LLM equips you with the legal, business, and tech knowledge you need to succeed, whether your goal is to join a large law firm or in-house legal department,  or launch your own startup, like Cornell Tech alum John DeFelice.

DeFelice, Cornell Tech LLM ‘21, co-founded Meili Tech, a startup that builds enterprise solutions focused on safety, automation, and compliance applications for industrial, commercial, and automotive clients. He credits the Cornell Tech LLM program with propelling him into the entrepreneurial arena and providing a variety of perspectives he would not have discovered otherwise.

“I chose Cornell Tech’s LLM program because, even before law school, I always itched to build a tech startup,” DeFelice said. “As I contemplated next steps in my career, I recognized there was room to add more perspective. Cornell Tech was the clear choice to fuse startup-focused legal and venture training. The program served as a wealth of new knowledge and a platform to embark on a significant career pivot.”

DeFelice adds that the work he completed within the LLM program at Cornell Tech is of use to him every day in his professional journey.

“While I came to Cornell Tech with prior commercial experience, my approach in this new landscape would not be nearly as effective had I not completed the program,” DeFelice said. “My work has been informed by essentially all competencies offered during the LLM — including early formation, IP strategy, technology transactions, data privacy, raising venture capital, board and team composition, and much more.”

Daswell Davis, Cornell Tech LLM ‘20, says his work life feels much like the interdisciplinary team experience he had at Cornell Tech. He now has the opportunity “to work as part of a brilliant, diverse, and highly collaborative team of experts who share common goals and values” as Senior Corporate Counsel at Akoya. Davis says his ability to provide strategic legal guidance to a fintech company that is simplifying data access for open finance comes directly from the rigorous, interdisciplinary, tech-focused learning environment he found at Cornell Tech.

“The intensive academic and professional training provided to students at Cornell Tech allowed me to gain a deeper understanding of the legal, commercial, and societal implications of innovation, and equipped me with the requisite knowledge and skills needed to help emerging companies scale, while [also] navigating the plethora of challenges faced when bringing cutting-edge technologies and products to market,” Davis said.

The LLM program at Cornell Tech is much more than instruction and building solutions. As Davis notes, it’s an open door to leverage a wealth of knowledge, contacts and career possibilities.

“If I had to choose one thing, I would say the most valuable aspect of my LLM experience was the access it provided to the Cornell Tech and broader Cornell University network,” said Davis. “Never in my life have I had the opportunity to learn from and network with so many professors, guest speakers, practitioners, and just amazing innovators who are renowned experts and leaders operating at the top of their respective fields.”

Davis and DeFelice are just two of the success stories born of the LLM program. Cornell Tech boasts noteworthy career outcomes for the program — confirming that at nine months past graduation, nearly 100% of reporting graduates from all years who sought employment were employed, most in positions related to their Cornell Tech experience.

Cornell Tech is located in the heart of New York City and also maintains a cohesive intimate campus environment on Roosevelt Island. The New York City location benefits Cornell Tech LLM students by placing them minutes away from many of the world’s best lawyers and events. The location is also a draw for top-flight, core faculty and guest lecturers from local law firms and companies who are preeminent in their fields.

During the year-long program, students dive into studying law and building the transactional skills that emerging companies need in this increasingly complex and dynamic digital economy. The Cornell Tech LLM is open to top practicing attorneys and recent law graduates from the U.S. and around the world with an interest in technology.

About the Author

Matthew D’Amore is a Professor of Practice at Cornell Tech and in the Law School at Cornell University, and currently serves as an Associate Dean at Cornell Tech and as Director of the Law, Technology & Entrepreneurship Program.

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