Summer Diaries: Cybersecurity Student Lands in D.A.’s High Tech Crimes Unit

Hanna Sherman
Hanna Sherman ’18

Hanna Sherman ’18 is spending her summer as a law clerk for the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office High Tech Crimes Unit. There, she’s honing the skills learned in her Cybersecurity and Data Privacy Concentration courses and gaining first-hand experience on how cybercrimes are prosecuted. Sherman secured her position as part of Loyola’s Technology Internship Program (TIP), a program places technology-minded students into firms with a similar focus while providing practical skills training in the subject area. Prior to joining the District Attorney’s Office, she was a research assistant for Professor Aaron Ghirardelli, examining alternative uses for Bitcoin technology and issues related to digital trespass to chattels.

How did you land your summer job?

I attended Loyola Law School’s Government Fair in the fall of 2016. That’s where I met Deputy District Attorney Marc Beaart from the Cyber Crimes Division and learned about their summer clerking opportunities.

How did the Career Development Office help you secure the position?

The Career Development Office was incredibly supportive. They guided me through the application process,  helped me tailor my resume for the position and prepared me for the interview. My amazing counselor, Assistant Director of Career Development Jill Myers, put me in contact with a student who worked for the same division during his 2L summer. It gave me a better idea of what the division expects from its law clerks.

What is the most interesting part of your job?

I am fascinated by the digital components of our cases – namely, how the District Attorney's Office utilizes technology to apprehend defendants for their own misuse of technology. I had the incredible opportunity to observe live demonstrations of how some of the technology is used both on the criminal and investigatory side. 

What has been your most challenging assignment thus far?

I researched the practices and uses of anonymous and untraceable online browsing and their relations to criminal enterprise, including the role of cryptocurrencies. I found this assignment challenging because I did not have any prior experience with anonymous-browsing software, so I needed to tackle this research assignment from the ground up. 

What new legal skill(s) have you acquired during your summer job?

Working for the District Attorney’s Office has given me first-hand experience of the prosecutorial process, from filing charges through sentencing. This position has also allowed me to grow my legal and non-legal research skills into a more thorough analysis of the role of technology and data forensics in law enforcement. 

How has your Loyola education helped you make a difference in your placement?

I am currently working toward completing my Cybersecurity and Data Privacy Concentration. The tailored education I have received in my Concentration classes gave me a foundation that has proved invaluable when working on the cases I get assigned. 

What LLS courses have you found most helpful to your position? Please explain.

Of the several courses I have taken toward my Concentration, the most useful course for this job has been Cyber & Intellectual Property Crimes. Although much of the subject matter covered in the class was federal and not state, it exposed me to the prosecutorial process for cyber and data crimes. This helped me better understand the psychological profiles and motivations of many of the defendants in my assigned cases.

In what additional ways has Loyola helped you map your career path?

I have been a Loyola student since I was a college freshman. Over the last six years, I have found the incredible faculty and resources in the Loyola Marymount University system have been instrumental in helping me carve out a career path for myself and make strong choices toward a successful future. The Career Development Office at the Law School, in particular, has been consistently supportive throughout my time in law school.