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Joseph F. Rice School of Law

Inaugural TechInLaw symposium invites attendees to consider the interplay of technology and law

Does technology evolve and the law follow, or is the law driving the evolution of tech?Donna Tillis ‘14 asked attendees during her opening remarks of the inaugural TechInLaw Symposium. “Either way, we know there is an evolution.”  

Hosted by the Technology in Law (TechInLaw) Collaborative at the University of South Carolina Joseph F. Rice School of Law, the symposium invited law students and lawyers – virtually and in-person – to consider the interplay of technology and law.  

"Everything in law and every practice area implicates technology and the understanding of how technology affects the law,” says Gary Moore, assistant dean for Academic Technology and TechInLaw Collaborative executive director. 

Attendees participated in sessions on cryptocurrency litigation, the impact of artificial intelligence on employment, cybersecurity, and legislation for autonomous and electric vehicles. Throughout the day, the presenters challenged those in attendance to consider the impact of technology in the legal field and philosophical questions about AI’s increasing role.  

The TechInLaw Symposium featured more than a dozen panelists and speakers nearly all of whom were law school alumni, including keynote speaker Creighton Waters ‘96, chief attorney for the State Grand Jury section at South Carolina Attorney General’s Office. Waters is best known for serving as lead prosecutor in the 2023 Alex Murdaugh trial.  

His keynote focused on concrete applications, highlighting the technology used in the Murdaugh case. Waters specifically cited how collating data from many technological sources – like the FBI cast report, Snapchat returns, and cell phone extraction, including battery life and location information – was crucial in piecing together Murdaugh’s timeline. 

“We were able to sync all that [data] together and then use that to paint a picture of the entire course of events of the evening,” Waters says. “With all that data, it became very compelling because it really is very objective and very compelling for the jury to see the activity of everyone and how those things sync together.” 

Waters also spoke about how important it is for litigators to familiarize themselves with the technology they are most likely to encounter in the courtroom, particularly when things go awry. Waters had a topical example from the Murdaugh trial, when the courtroom audio system broke, and they pivoted to “a little Fender system and a karaoke machine.” 

Bryant Walker Smith, associate professor of law and faculty director of the TechInLaw Collaborative, closed the program with an optimistic message. That, although AI can be scary, it affords “those exceptional moments when humans can shine.” 

“This event today is, at least in my view, one of those moments,” Smith says. “It’s been an opportunity to come together, to step back, to ask about how we as lawyers, as a community, should be thinking about, shaping, and grasping this larger moment in human history.” 

The TechInLaw Symposium was sponsored by the South Carolina Council on Competitiveness, Campbell Teague, Chappell, Chappell and Newman and the Richland County Bar.  The South Carolina Council on Competitiveness and the Richland County Bar have long been supporters of the Rice School of Law’s technology, innovation and law programming.  

The Rice School of Law has served as a technology and innovation resource in South Carolina for years, analyzing and addressing the interplay of technology, innovation, and law. TechInLaw houses resources and programming on related topics and is celebrating their 9th year continuously offering the TechInLaw LegalTech Seminar Series. 

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