I received my dissertation grade and my final overall grade, including my graduation decision last week. I can’t say I achieved my goal – I missed the grade I needed on my dissertation to graduate with first class honours, and with an A average something I never accomplished as a full-time student, by just a few points. I will graduate with upper-second class honours (a 2:1 as they call it), with “merit” – an accomplishment in its own right, but not the one I hoped for.
You can click here if you want to jump down to the link for my dissertation, which I had to keep under wraps until the grades were final.
Ultimately, it isn’t the final ranking that bothers me – it was coming so close and just missing. If you share my guilty pleasure of watching American Ninja Warrior, it is like those competitors who get the tips of their fingers on the top of the warped wall but can’t quite get enough grip to pull themselves up. Or the ones who see the clock tick down just before they can hit the buzzer. It’s the coming close but not quite being able to finish strongly that frustrates me.
Looking at grade conversion tables, I arguably have something between a 3.5 or 3.7 GPA by US standards — basically a B+ or A- average. And that is certainly higher than I have ever had as a student. I was always one of those kids who could pull Bs with little effort, so that’s what I did. Even college and law school were low B/B- averages despite spending more time doing things other than studying. I also realized, and a doctor confirmed, that ADHD likely played a huge role in that. (The doctor I met with was surprised that I made it through law school and have had a successful career as a lawyer.).
My dissertation topic was a tough one – deepfakes and the threats they pose to individuals, to society, and to democracy itself. I spent a few months in the weeds of this topic and why the law currently is not adequate to address it nor will the law alone be able to address it.
My dissertation is linked below, for those who want to read it. The paper is based on UK law but a lot of the underlying research draws upon US resources. And, I should note – I still haven’t edited or updated the paper so it does have some typos and mistakes typical of student papers.
While I am disappointed in the ultimate outcome, I can’t deny that there already have been a number of significant positive applications of and outcomes from my research. A couple months ago, I was able to put my newly gained knowledge to use in a meeting with legislators. I recently spoke on a panel about deepfakes here in LA and will be traveling to New York to speak on another panel that includes some deepfake related content. Earlier this month, I spoke on a panel at SAG-AFTRA’s biennial convention about a few topics, including an update on deepfakes. And last week, I did a 2-hour MCLE presentation based on my dissertation that I will probably present to other audiences in the future. I am told that there were as many as 100 people attending by webinar, in addition to the folks who attended in person.
And speaking of that MCLE presentation, I am proud of the internal MCLE program that I helped to develop and run as part of our broader internal education program. We have put on at least 7 programs in slightly over a year, each providing anywhere from 1 to 2 hours of credit to attorneys on our staff and providing generally useful education to attorneys and non-attorneys alike.
So there’s that…