Space, Cyber, and Telecommunications Law

About the Program

Fueling Innovation & Empowering Explorers: we believe that to grow mankind, space, cyber and telecommunications law is critical to the future of our democracy.  As technology continues to evolve and humans continue to reach upwards, the laws and regulations that protect citizens and serve industries must change too. Our alumni are at the forefront of this wave of change. Space, cyber, and telecommunications law and policy touch every satellite, every phone call, every online transaction. Since 2008, Nebraska Law has been the only law college in the nation to offer an LL.M. degree in space, cyber, and telecommunications law and to offer our full curriculum to our  Juris Doctorate (J.D.) students as a concentrated program of study. Graduates of the program have gone on to careers working for private companies like SpaceX; for civilian agencies like the NASA Jet Propulsion Lab; for military operations such as the U.S. Cyber Command and Space Operations; as well as for think tanks and law firms. 

In 2013 the University of Nebraska College of Law broke new ground as the only doctoral-level space law program in the United States, offering a J.S. D. in Space Law. Research-focused and dissertation-based, the J.S.D. program requires students to write a book-length thesis about an aspect of space law. The degree broadens opportunities for experienced lawyers and legal scholars to delve into the very intricate and complex issues facing the regulation of outer space activities in an in-depth manner. The program also offers an Executive Certificate program from practicing attorneys looking to specialize in a specific area of our curriculum. J.D. students at Nebraska Law also benefit from our expansive space, cyber, and telecommunications law curriculum and may design a program of study in this field.

Space Law

Space law is the study of the laws and regulations governing not just activities in space but also activities on Earth necessary to launch objects into space or to communicate with objects in space. This encompasses all national and international laws governing such activities.  Activities regulated involve innovative new industries like commercial space flight, scientific endeavors such as experiments heading to the International Space Station, the business sector and aerospace companies launching and operating satellites, as well as military applications and uses of space.

Attorneys specializing in space law learn a unique mixture of international, U.S. administrative, and industry specific law, policy, history, and economics. Space law is indeed a capstone course, touching on torts, property, foreign relations, insurance, and many other areas of the law.

Cyber law

Cyber law (or Cyberlaw) is the study of the relationship of technological and electronic elements, including computers, software, hardware and information systems to the law. Cyber law encompasses the regulation of commercial industries and private company data, as well as a vast number of military operations. From the Target & Sony hacks, to cloud storage, to cyber warfare, the law interacts with technology but often with gaps in coverage and difficult dilemmas in how best to proceed. Attorneys who specialize in cyber law are on the cutting edge of what has been called “The Wild West” as regulation and policy lag behind advancements in technology.  Cyber law is now virtually required in every law practice as nearly all clients have an online presence.

Telecommunications Law

Telecommunications law covers every electronic communication and all broadcasting across the United States. This area is heavily regulated by federal law and the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), but also by state and local laws, dealing with privacy and real estate. Telecommunications law is an area with many controversies as new technologies are created and invented by entrepreneurs. Google is now spending more money lobbying in Washington DC than any oil company. From net neutrality to cable contracts to spectrum management the world of telecommunications law continues to grow and change along with technology. 

Why all three?

While our students generally pick a focus area for their thesis, we require our students to take classes in all three areas. Why? You can’t launch a space vehicle or operate a communications satellite without licensing communication spectrum from the FCC. You can’t discuss cyber warfare without addressing the possibility of satellites as targets. The connections go on and on. These three areas are intrinsically linked by the technology they require and the laws and policies that impact them. Nebraska law is the one program in the world to specialize in all three and require our graduates to obtain a well-rounded understanding of the changing legal frontier.  

Careers

The Career Development team works directly with the Space, Cyber, and Telecommunications Law administration and faculty to help students network and build connections in space law, cyber law or telecommunications. For more information on the services available to students visit College of Law Career Development.

The LL.M. program is most appropriately designed for students already in a career track, looking to build upon their existing experience.

J.D. students engaged in the program have greater time and flexibility to accept internships and entry level positions. 

At the beginning of each academic year students may meet with the Executive Director to start their career strategy plan. This includes a month-by-month checklist of how to best prepare yourself for the job market in this sector. Students also benefit from expert review of their cover letters and resumes, as well as an entire library of resources in our career services office.

To give you an idea of the different career sectors in the space and cyber realm, they range from private industry (launch providers, satellite manufactures, etc), to policy (State Dept, FAA, think tanks), to national security (military, civilians working for DoD, defense contractors). Telecommunications also opens a broader door, as more (larger) companies are already entrenched in that regulatory scheme.