Kristopher A.
Nelson, JD, MA

PhD Candidate in history & science studies (technology and privacy). Writer and researcher. Teacher. Legal intern. Law & technology consultant and developer.

 

Kristopher A. Nelson, JD, MA
PhD Candidate in history & science studies (technology and privacy). Writer and researcher. Teacher. Legal intern. Law & technology consultant and developer.


I am a PhD candidate in History of Science and Science Studies at the University of California, San Diego, an instructor at UC San Diego, the University of San Diego, and Mesa College, a paralegal/legal intern at TRE Legal Practice, and a law and technology consultant with kNk Advising.

My academic research is focused on the history of law and technology, specifically the impact of technology on privacy law (including concepts like liberty, autonomy, secrecy, confidentiality, and so on). My teaching is usually related to that, with an emphasis on encouraging undergraduates to view historical methods, especially the use of evidence and argument, as practical skills to succeed in business and in life. I have published several law-review articles and maintain a law and technology blog with my more informal work.

Outside of academia, I also focus on law and technology in various ways. At TRE Legal, a small firm specializing in disability discrimination law, I work on legal research and writing and provide paralegal support. I also provide law and technology consulting services, including web development, editing, research, and writing, through kNk Advising.

I graduated from the University of Washington with degrees in Comparative History of Ideas, Comparative Literature, and Spanish. I spent almost ten years as a systems analyst and manager at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center. Seeking to bring my technology and critical-analytic skills together, I earned a Juris Doctor (JD) degree from the University of California, Hastings College of the Law. After graduating, I decided that a PhD program in the history of science would be the best way to unify my technical, analytic, and legal training.

Much of my work—including research, teaching, and consulting—is intentionally pragmatic. History, for me, is valuable for its own sake—but critically, it is also useful. History provides us with evidence and data for making decisions today. This evidence may well lack the purity of a chemical equation, but it is used everyday in the courtroom, for example, where reaching a fair result is more important than perfect data. Historical evidence can prove similarly useful to a real-world policymaker.

Research & Writing

The Impact of Technology on Privacy Law

 

Research & Writing
The Impact of Technology on Privacy Law


Broadly stated, my current research involves an investigation into the impact of new technologies on practical aspects of the law. Thus, I am interested in broad questions like whether societal ideals and conceptions drive both the law and technology, or if technology drives the law and societal expectations, or if there is some other factor at play. While primarily an historical investigation, these questions have applicability to the contemporary world, e.g., to issues of Internet privacy, wiretapping, vaccination, contraception, and abortion.

Put differently, I am researching privacy in the United Sates from roughly 1800-1965, and particularly the impacts new technologies (like the telegraph or the contraceptive pill) had on conceptions and implementations of privacy. As part of this work, I look at legal history, especially in regards to individual liberty and government intervention, federal versus state authority, the development of common-law precedents, and the perception of scientific and technological expertise and authority.

I also continue to pursue work on other issues, such as the role of technology transfer offices in an increasingly neoliberal university environment, the history of disability law, the limits of the First Amendment, and more. You can find my more formal work via Google Scholar. More informal material is at my blog, in propria persona.

University Teaching

Students, Research, and Pragmatism

 

University Teaching
Students, Research, and Pragmatism


My teaching is student- and research-focused, as well as explicitly pragmatic. I believe history and the humanities are useful—even if that utility is not always measurable in dollars and cents.

As an adjunct professor at the University of San Diego, I teach an introductory course on the history of science. The course covers various key moments in the history of science and technology, from the Greeks, to the Enlightenment, to present-day issues—always asking students, “Why does this matter to you?”

At UC San Diego, I teach American Legal History since 1865 (HIUS 151), “Law & Liberty,” as an “Associate-In.” This upper-division class covers civil rights, the right to contract, the New Deal, discrimination, disability, intellectual property, and privacy (the Fourth Amendment, the Right to Privacy of Katz and Griswold, plus modern business and medical issues).

I teach U.S. History II at Mesa College, covering Reconstruction to the modern day, with an emphasis on political and legal developments. We ask questions like, “Who is an American?” and “What is the role of government in providing for its citizens?” I want students to learn some history, but I also want to prepare them to be effective communicators in business, academia, politics, or any area where analysis and critical thinking matter.

As a Teaching Assistant in the Making of the Modern World, the writing program at UC San Diego’s Eleanor Roosevelt College, I teach writing and argument in support of world history content up through the medieval period.

I have also been a TA for numerous history and law classes at UC San Diego, including LAWS 101 (Introduction to Law), COMM 114M (Communicatins and the Law), and HILD 2A-B-C (United States History), among many others.

Legal Work

at TRE Legal Practice

 

Legal Work
at TRE Legal Practice


At TRE Legal, a small firm specializing in disability discrimination law, I work on legal research and writing along with general paralegal support. I have been involved in writing Complaints, assisting with fee petitions after a settlement, researching legal precedent, and more.

I received my JD from UC Hastings (‘09) alongside Timothy Elder, the founder of the TRE Legal Practice, but I chose to pursue a PhD instead of working as a lawyer. Recently, I’ve begin working for Tim as a paralegal/legal intern because I support the work he does and because I am considering taking the bar and practicing myself, even if only as a sideline to my academic work. TRE Legal is a civil rights law firm fighting discrimination and specializing in the rights of the blind and other disabled people to access employment, education, government programs, public accommodations, accessible technology and all other aspects of society. Some of TRE Legal’s work includes:

Law & Technology Consulting

at kNk Advising

 

Law & Technology Consulting
at kNk Advising


I provide law and technology consulting services through kNk Advising, which can also help you with other for- or non-profit business matters. Our goal is to help you follow the law, behave ethically, and make more money (for yourself or others) while doing it.