Kate Garman (left) and Bryan Wilson (right) are both starting new rolesUMKC School of Law alumni who were players in the law school’s Year of Technology in 2016 are moving up in the legal community. Bryan Wilson (J.D. ’16) has been named a fellow of the American Bar Association Center for Innovation. Kate Garman, also of the class of 2016, has departed from her role as Innovation Analyst for the City of Kansas City to become the first Smart City Coordinator for the City of Seattle. Both graduates developed their technology skills in courses where they gained important insights into the value of effective use of technology in improving law and law-related processes.

Bryan Wilson was among eight fellows announced on Monday, August 1. Wilson is creating the DFENDR Project, a data-driven effort that seeks to help free innocent people from prison. He previously worked with Legal.io and the Midwest Innocence Project. He currently does tech and policy analysis for RiskGenius and manages KC Legal Hackers. While in law school, Wilson was the President of the Legal Technologists’ Society. He also worked for the City of Kansas City on ordinance review processes across a number of departments and helped execute the Smart and Connect City Contracts with Mayor Sly James’ Office, alongside the Chief Innovation Officer and legal department.

The Center for Innovation was established last year at the recommendation of the ABA Commission on the Future of Legal Services to encourage and accelerate innovations that improve the accessibility, affordability and effectiveness of legal services and to transform how the public accesses the law and legal information. The fellows will begin work later this summer.

In late July 2017, Kate Garman said goodbye to Kansas City, Mo. and started work with the City of Seattle to run the city’s Smart City program that will leverage technology to improve the lives of Seattle residents. The Smart City program will implement and manage policies, partnerships, systems, platforms, and networks that ensure the security and manageability of the Smart City environment and that ensure that the technology is deployed and managed responsibly and in accordance with privacy and digital equity commitments. As the first Smart City Coordinator, Garman will collaborate with staff across City departments to develop a strategy that ensures the Smart City projects are running smoothly and efficiently.

Garman was the first Innovation Analyst for Kansas City and in the country. She drafted ordinances and policy recommendations to foster a culture of innovation in Kansas City. Kansas City has now become a model for Seattle for how they can use technology to enhance the city’s livability, workability, and sustainability.

Both graduates were in the interdisciplinary and inter-institutional course, “Special Topics in Law, Technology and Public Policy,” while at UMKC School of Law. The course is offered each semester and was created with the help of Dazza Greenwood, a lecturer and research scientist at the MIT Media Lab. The course includes students from the School of Law, Bloch School of Management, and the School of Computing and Engineering; it also brings together community partners such as the City of Kansas City, KC Digital Drive, Code for KC, the Lewis White Real Estate Center and many others.

As part of the class, “prototype jams” were held each semester, where students, faculty and community partners gathered to brainstorm and develop projects. Projects ranged from streamlining regulatory processes (i.e. permits/licenses), data analytics to promote public health and safety, and startup advisor tools to foster small business formation. The course also included a project based around developing privacy policies and legal reforms for Smart Cities’ data gathering, storage and dissemination initiatives. The course led to Garman receiving a policy internship position in the Mayor’s Office and then to her position as the Innovation Analyst.

The 2016 Year of Technology was about preparing tomorrow’ lawyers today, giving them the skills to navigate a rapidly changing world. Although the year closed out, UMKC School of Law students, faculty and partners from all over the country and in Kansas City continue to collaborate on projects to serve the needs of entrepreneurs, cities and others who benefit from people with strong competencies in law and technology.

If you have a new position, are starting over in a new city, are working in the community or have news to share, be sure to submit a class note here or contact Cary Powers at powerscl@umkc.edu.