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Journey from History to Cybersecurity Law

February 29, 2024

Dylan Roberts ML’26 discusses his experiences in the Master in Law (ML) Program.

By Robbie Gamble C’25

In celebration of the 10th anniversary of the University of Pennsylvania Carey Law School’s Master in Law (ML) Program, this interview series highlights the rich, unique journeys of students and professionals within the program. Since its establishment in 2014, the ML Program has educated emerging and accomplished professionals from a wide range of fields and areas of expertise in the law and legal foundations of their disciplines.

headshot of Dylan Roberts ML'26 Dylan Roberts ML’26Dylan Roberts ML’26 began his academic journey pursuing a bachelor’s degree in history at the University of New Mexico, sending him down an unexpected path towards cybersecurity and data privacy. After earning a master’s degree in cybersecurity, he became a consultant, where he skillfully developed an interdisciplinary niche in technology, law, and sociology. He focused on understanding the delicate interplay between technology and society.

With confidence in his sociology and technology background, Roberts embarked on a new challenge: enrolling in the Master in Law (ML) Program at the University of Pennsylvania Carey Law School to deepen his understanding of this work and increase his value to clients.

Here, he discusses his experience with the ML program.

Why the ML?

Roberts’s decision to pursue an ML degree emerged while leading a privacy team at the cybersecurity advisory firm, Coalfire. He realized his limitations communicating with legal professionals, sparking a desire to delve deeper into the convergence of technology, sociology, and law.

His goal was to revolutionize the firm’s privacy program operations, enhance stakeholder communication, and evolve into an “insightful and adept manager.” Penn Carey Law served as the ideal location for Dylan to realize these ambitions.

Value of Cross-disciplinary Learning

For Roberts, the ML program isn’t just educational—it’s a vital toolkit for his role as a privacy professional. He noted that the knowledge gained from his ML classes became immediately applicable, particularly in understanding administrative and regulatory law.

By comprehending the regulatory processes, Dylan could engage meaningfully with lawyers and clients, transforming into a subject matter expert, noting, “once I understood the regulatory process and function, I could be on the same page as lawyers during our meetings.”

Most Influential Experience in the ML Program

A standout moment in Roberts’s academic journey was during an administrative law class. When he presented a unique argument that even his professor hadn’t considered, it provided him with a significant confidence boost.

This pivotal moment transformed his approach, making him more comfortable and assertive in specialized legal discussions. “I realized that if I can impress him,” Roberts said, “what’s stopping me from building up my ethos so that I can build trust and make better recommendations?”

His newfound familiarity with legal topics has since impressed clients and lawyers alike, fostering a deeper sense of trust and ambition for Roberts to continue learning more.

Intersection with Broader Interests

Beyond his professional sphere, Roberts sees his ML degree intersecting significantly with his broader interests in data privacy ethics, and human and civil rights.

He hopes to one day dive into the realm of advocating for ethical regulations within the technology and privacy world, potentially exploring the non-profit space, to deepen the understanding of privacy’s importance and its societal impacts.

Favorite Philly Pastime

Away from the complexities of law and technology, Roberts has a simple culinary love: Philadelphia’s hoagies and cheesesteaks.

“There are no better sandwiches,” Roberts said.

Learn more about Penn Carey Law’s ML program.