Nancy S. Kim Named Inaugural Michael Paul Galvin Chair in Entrepreneurship and Applied Legal Technology

New faculty position will focus on business law and the legal issues tied to technology, innovation, and entrepreneurship

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CHICAGO, April 15, 2021— Law and technology scholar Nancy S. Kim has been named the inaugural Michael Paul Galvin Chair in Entrepreneurship and Applied Legal Technology at Chicago-Kent College of Law at Illinois Institute of Technology.

“Preparing our students for the future of law requires a nuanced approach to the intersection between modern day legal issues and technology,” says Chicago-Kent Dean Anita K. Krug. “Nancy Kim’s sophisticated research, which blends traditional contracts law with the digital realm and the complexities of human behavior, is a wonderful fit for our law school. We are thrilled she is joining our faculty.”

The chair is made possible through the generous donation of Michael P. Galvin and his wife Elizabeth as part of a 2019 landmark $150 million combined gift from prominent Illinois Tech leaders to help the university drive Chicago’s continued tech rise. Michael Galvin is a 1978 graduate of Chicago-Kent, chairman of the Illinois Tech Board of Trustees, and president of venture capital firm Galvin Enterprises, Inc. The tenured chair, which will be funded in perpetuity, will focus on legal regulations and issues tied to emerging technologies, along with business law related to innovation, startups, and entrepreneurship.

“Nancy’s practical business experience and forward-thinking approach to legal issues fit perfectly with what I had envisioned for this role—which is ensuring that every graduate has computational competence as legal practice evolves in these regards, and integrating the law school into Illinois Tech’s collaborative educational and entrepreneurial courses and programs,” Galvin says. “Her research and scholarship will be an invaluable asset to our students as we continue to build upon our world-class, interdisciplinary educational experience at Illinois Tech.”

“The ongoing leadership of the Galvins in establishing this chair not only demonstrates their commitment to Chicago-Kent and Illinois Tech, but also highlights the importance of the university’s interdisciplinary work,” says Ernie Iseminger, Illinois Tech’s vice president for advancement.

Kim is currently the ProFlowers Distinguished Professor of Internet Studies and a professor of law at California Western School of Law, and will be joining Chicago-Kent in fall 2021.

Her research interests explore the ways that technology shapes the law, particularly the way we enter into contracts and how these contracts have transformed our lives. Digital wrap contracts—where users are quickly prompted to click “Yes” or “I Agree” to consent to data collection, terms of use, and other stipulations before accessing information or an app—are a daily constant that many people don’t think of as contracts. Kim says these contracts implicate privacy, ownership versus licensing, whether individuals waive certain legal rights by using a service, and a wide range of other issues.

Contracts and the notion of consent are inseparable, which is another core area of Kim’s research. She says if someone “can enter into a contract that the law recognizes as a contract without what most people consider to be consent, how do we draw the line?  What do contract and consent mean in that context?” In her book, Consentability: Consent and its Limits, Kim raises questions about society’s concept of consent and why we allow consent for some things and not others. Take, for example, the legal difference between signing a contract to consent to elective cosmetic surgery versus emergency, life-saving surgery. Without being able to predict the future, someone could consent to an experimental drug treatment and years later experience long-lasting side effects or adverse health outcomes. Kim’s book discusses a framework for consent based on whether one has enough knowledge of an act to voluntarily manifest consent.

Kim says she is excited to join Chicago-Kent’s faculty, and that the law school’s ties to a technology-focused university puts it in a unique position for research and innovation.

“I’ve always been a big fan of Chicago-Kent’s programs in technology and intellectual property. The faculty is amazing and have been at the forefront of a lot of the technology and law issues that I’m passionate about,” she says. “This, to me, seemed like a dream opportunity because it combines all my various interests. I think the law school is so well positioned to do even more, really groundbreaking work as it has done in the past.”

In addition to residing at the law school and teaching law school courses, the Galvin chair will be affiliated with Illinois Tech’s Ed Kaplan Family Institute for Innovation and Tech Entrepreneurship. The Kaplan Institute is the campus home for innovative and entrepreneurial students from across Illinois Tech, a hub where they learn how to convert their creative ideas into significant and viable businesses, services, and solutions. Kim will engage in interdisciplinary research in furtherance of the Kaplan Institute’s mission and help facilitate law student involvement in the Institute.

Among her ideas for collaboration is a course for students who want to start a business and have familiarity with legal concepts that are relevant to entrepreneurs and startup companies. Decisions that entrepreneurs make during the early stages of their companies related to contracts, intellectual property, intangible assets, ownership, and other issues will affect the rights and control they have over their businesses later on. Kim says the course would discuss preventive legal measures to protect businesses and examine how contract provisions involving trade secrets and non-disclosure agreements impact businesses.

Prior to her career in academia, Kim served as vice president of business and legal affairs for a multinational software and services company. She also held legal and business roles with several Silicon Valley technology companies, and practiced corporate law as an associate with Heller, Ehrman, White & McAuliffe in San Francisco and Gunderson Dettmer in Menlo Park, California.

“Nancy’s leadership experience at the highest levels of technology businesses and working with startups will be a tremendous asset to our students,” says Maryam Saleh, executive director of the Kaplan Institute. “I look forward to collaborating with her on innovative programs that will benefit aspiring entrepreneurs at the Kaplan Institute.”

Kim is a former chair of both the section on Commercial and Consumer Law and the section on Contracts of the Association of American Law Schools (AALS) and is an elected member of the American Law Institute. She earned her bachelor’s degree and juris doctor from University of California, Berkeley and has a LL.M in public international law from University of California, Los Angeles.