Advance your career with a knowledge of law

April 27, 2018

SU Law's Master of Legal Studies degree can prepare you to tackle a range of on-the-job challenges

Sharena Akers

Cyber attacks. Data breaches. Information privacy. These terms, once reserved mostly for tech insiders, are now familiar to a growing number of Americans who have had their personal and financial information stolen when hackers infiltrate the networks of companies. This has profound consequences for those affected, as well as broader implications for the future of information sharing in the global economy.

As a rapidly expanding technology hub, Seattle has many employment opportunities for professionals with the right blend of expertise to help protect our data. In addition to a technical understanding of the issues, a knowledge of the legal and regulatory environment is increasingly valued by employers.

Sharena Akers, a paralegal for a local tech company, is one of those on the front lines. She works closely with her company’s in-house counsel on a variety of legal issues, including data privacy. “Cybersecurity is not just a buzzword. It’s a really important issue with potentially huge ramifications if companies don’t take it seriously,” she says. “They have to think about what to do when a cyber security incident occurs, not if.”

Akers is passionate about working at the intersection of law and technology, but she knew she needed to up her knowledge in this area in order to advance her career. After considering a traditional law degree, she decided to pursue the Master of Legal Studies program at Seattle University School of Law. It offers an Innovation and Technology track that is helping Akers better understand laws and regulations pertaining to technology.

“I find the program to be applicable in ways I didn’t even realize, because it touches a variety of issues, including privacy, network security and intellectual property. I am particularly impressed with the professors, who often work at tech companies and bring a wealth of expertise, and they’re also enthusiastic about helping their students build a strong network in the field,” she says.

After she graduates, Akers will transition into a data privacy and security manager role. But her long-term goal is to become a chief privacy officer, and she knows her graduate law degree will be instrumental on this path. “The issue of privacy is foundational to how companies conduct business. And they need professionals who have a solid understanding of the regulatory landscape to help them make the best decisions,” she says.

A legal education can help professionals in a variety of fields. In addition to the Innovation and Technology track that Akers is pursuing, the MLS program offers tracks in Health Law; Business Development; Tribal Law; and General Studies. To learn more, including how to enroll, visit the Graduate Law Programs website.