University of Arizona Law third-year, TechLaw Fellow and first-generation law student CJ Pommier has held many titles before her time as a law student: PhD student, Chemist, Bench Scientist, Product Developer and Project Manager to name a few.
“I came into law having never thought of it as a possible career because there are no lawyers in my family,” said Pommier.
But it was during her time as a project manager that Pommier began to contemplate a career change. She talked about it with one of her mentors, who told her about the TechLaw Program at University of Arizona Law. Wanting to leverage her training as a chemist and her experience in product development and research to bring unique insights into a future law practice, she decided to apply.
"Many of my mentors discussed the importance of networking and building a community where you want to practice. Because I love the area so much, I want to take advantage of the opportunity Arizona Law provided to start my future professional network here," she said.
While she was selected for the TechLaw Fellowship due to her tech background and has enjoyed taking courses like the Intellectual Property Clinic, Patent Law, and Copyrights, she has enjoyed being able to pursue her interests and explore all areas of the law.
“Being a TechLaw fellow has given me freedom to explore interests that are not necessarily technology focused but are interesting. One of my favorite classes was lawmaking and judicial review with Professor Kristin Engle and Arizona Supreme Court Justice Robert Brutinel,” said Pommier. “There is freedom and support in TechLaw and that is one of the strengths in the program.”
She spent her first summer at the Arizona Supreme Court, where she gained experience with appeals, and her second summer at a litigation firm Tucson. She is now externing for a boutique firm that focuses on supporting technology with startups here in Tucson.
She hopes that after graduation she can put her law and product development background to use by helping local innovators.
“I think if we can build that legal community and become a more well known as a resource, there is no need for those folks who want to launch their innovations out of the university to go to Phoenix or New York to find the legal support that they need,” said Pommier.
Having found a supportive legal community at University of Arizona Law, she hopes to see more students take advantage of the TechLaw Fellowship. Her advice for students thinking about applying to the TechLaw Fellowship program, is to bring your creative problem-solving skills to the program, and to your application.
“Legal thinking is very different than the type of thinking that we are used to in the technology field, but it is not all that different. It is just a different analysis type. Once you learn that translation, it becomes easier, but there is a hurdle to learning that. So, for an application, highlight that creative problem solving,” advises Pommier.
Why Tech Law?
There is a growing need for lawyers who understand technology. Tech-savvy lawyers add value in traditional legal settings—the law firm, the boardroom, the courthouse—but they increasingly play critical roles in private firms and government offices where they can shape technology policy.
University of Arizona Law's TechLaw program was created to examine issues on both sides of the law-and-technology nexus. The college offers the only full-tuition scholarship program dedicated to students with science and technology backgrounds, is cultivating faculty work in law and technology, partnering with tech-focused employers, and convening special events that examine how technology is changing the practice of law and the administration of justice.