Automation and globalization have become the way of the world, and the legal profession is no exception. Law firms, large and small, are looking at ways to use computers in order to automate everything from scheduling to billing. On a deeper level, they are also mining court documents to identify cases trends, so attorneys have an edge when arguing cases. This is where Jayla Grant comes in.
Grant grew up in the heart of Silicon Valley and knew she wanted to be an attorney after observing her police officer father in traffic court. Seeing the dance of the courtroom excited her. At the same time, she found a love for math in fourth grade, and when it was time for college, she was drawn to the mathematics and computer science program at Spelman College. It was there that she discovered the new master’s of science in data science and analytics/juris doctor dual degree program at Georgia State Law.
Now, as the first M.S.D.A./J.D. student, she’s looking at ways to use the combined power of law and analytics for social justice.
What has been your favorite class?
The Legal Analytics class was my first time being able to use both skills to produce a result. We looked at franchise documents and analyzed them to create research questions, for example, does the amount of intellectual property relate to the amount of fees you’re paying up front? I thought that was really interesting, because it was a real-world example, and I was able to use my computer science data analytics brain while looking at these documents in a legal fashion.
What area of law are you interested in?
I am interested in exploring technology law and data security and privacy. However, my passion and hope are to be heavily involved in social justice reform. There’s a statistic that low-income Black youth have this school-to-prison pipeline, and I’m interested in looking at the metrics behind that. I want to look at what contributes to those numbers and how to change that. Right now, I am working on another project related to social justice that deals with Florida capital punishment cases in Legal Analytics Lab. We just started and I’m excited to work on that.
I am also doing an internship in the data analytics department at Alston & Bird, which I started in March. I am looking at legal documents from the firm and trying to present answers to questions and make the partners/associates jobs easier.
What has been your favorite thing about the College of Law, so far?
Having support of faculty. I had a difficult first year, because my dad was diagnosed with a serious illness the beginning of my second semester. A month later, I was in a car accident that broke my right wrist, which is my dominant hand. I was fortunate to have professors make accommodations for me, because sometimes I had to go to my dad’s doctor’s meetings and other times I had doctor’s appointments for myself. It was relieving to not only be supported by my teachers, but also fellow students and other faculty members. My dad is still in treatment, but he is improving and in good spirits.
What experience have you had here that you wouldn’t have had anywhere else?
There’s something about Georgia State that is welcoming and inviting. Even though we’re in a competitive environment, it doesn’t feel that way all the time. There are always people to support you, and I don’t think I would have found that at other law schools.
Interview by Kelundra Smith