Elon Law scholar co-authors textbook on information law

Associate Professor David S. Levine's "Information Law, Governance, and Cybersecurity," written with Sharon K. Sandeen of Mitchell Hamline School of Law, is the first textbook of its kind to suggest a holistic approach for attorneys handling questions related to privacy, data breaches, government transparency and more.

An Elon Law scholar who has presented his work on intellectual property and trade secrecy around the world has co-authored a new textbook with another of the nation’s top experts on information law.

Associate Professor David S. Levine, Elon Law’s Jennings Professor and Emerging Scholar, joined with Sharon K. Sandeen, the Robins Kaplan LLP Distinguished Professor in IP Law at Mitchell Hamline School of Law, to craft “Information Law, Governance, and Cybersecurity,” a 730-page textbook due out this fall by West Academic Publishing.

Their book teaches law students and information professionals the law, policies and practices related to what is increasingly referred to as “the practice of information governance.” In the book, Sandeen and Levine examine a wide range of information law topics, including information contracts, information torts, information privacy, government transparency, and cybersecurity, combining a discussion of applicable law with practical advice and a process orientation.

The book is divided into three sections: information, the law, and governance. The authors cover topics that range from information diffusion to responses to data breaches to national security, and their work comes at a time when questions surrounding government and corporate transparency – the way Boeing is responding to its problems with the software installed on the 737 MAX, for example, or how social media companies keep secret the algorithms they use to deliver content – are at the center of public debate.

“There are no textbooks out there – and not a lot of materials overall – that teach new lawyers and young lawyers how to think broadly about how information is collected, accessed, regulated and used,” Levine said. “We wanted to contribute something new. Lawyers in this field will have a much broader – and much more granular – perspective on what they’re doing.”

Sandeen, who first met Levine about a decade ago through their mutual research interest in trade secrets, said their complementary professional backgrounds as practicing attorneys brings a dynamic to the textbook that may not have been possible from scholars with little or no experience litigating such issues.

“The central reason for this book is the legal academy tends to be very siloed in terms of how we teach ‘information law’, which is a fairly new label,” she said. “We have copyright experts. We have patent experts. We have trade secrecy experts. We have First Amendment experts. We have privacy experts. Individual people teaching in those areas go deep into their subject matter, but from the point of view of a business and lawyers, what is needed more than depth is breadth. The range of information-related problems that arise in businesses run the gamut. We wanted to write something that would give an overview of information law – both the law itself, and the practical means of dealing with it.”

Levine joined the Elon Law faculty in 2009 and has developed an international reputation for his legal research into the areas of lawmaking, trade secrecy, and the ways in which corporations and governments use the law to control access to intellectual property.

An affiliate scholar at the Center for Internet and Society at Stanford Law School, Levine also was a fellow at Princeton University’s Center for Information Technology Policy from 2014-2017. He is the founder and host of Stanford University’s KZSU-FM “Hearsay Culture,” an information policy, intellectual property law and technology talk show for which he has recorded over 250 interviews since May 2006.

Levine’s scholarship has been published in numerous law reviews including Florida, North Carolina, Notre Dame, Stanford Online, and Wake Forest, with a focus on the operation of intellectual property law at the intersection of technology and public life. He has spoken about his work in numerous national and international venues and is a founding editor of the online journal Secrecy and Society.

In recognition of his scholarly work, Levine was named the Jennings Professor and Emerging Scholar at Elon Law for 2017-2019. The endowed professorship, as well as the Turnage Family Faculty Innovation & Creativity Fund, supported work on “Information Law” and June travel for presentations about the textbook to scholars and lawyers at the T.M.C. Asser Institute in The Hague, and The Oxford Internet Institute at Oxford University in Great Britain.

“This is truly the first of its kind,” Levine said. “We’re really trying to push lawyers to think of how to apply information law and governance holistically by sector.”

About Elon Law:

Elon University School of Law in Greensboro, North Carolina, is the preeminent school for engaged and experiential learning in law. With a focus on learning by doing, it integrates traditional classroom instruction with course-connected, full-time residencies-in-practice in a logically sequenced program of transformational professional preparation. Elon Law’s groundbreaking approach is accomplished in 2.5 years, which provides distinctive value by lowering tuition and permitting graduates early entry into their legal careers.