In September 2013, Emily Goldberg Knox was a 2L enrolled in a course called “Terrorism in the Law."
She was juggling paper topics, and struggling to choose one. Then, on September 21st, the al-Shabab terror group laid siege to a shopping mall in Nairobi, Kenya. Knox followed the story as it unfolded. “I read a few articles and blogs commenting that Twitter should be held liable for facilitating the attacks,” she recalled. “While they were only talking about civil liability, I began to think about whether it would be feasible.” She’d found her paper topic, and honed in on the issue of criminal, rather than civil, liability. The result would be a course paper titled "The Slippery Slope of Material Support Prosecutions: Social Media Support to Terrorists", scheduled to appear in Issue 1 of the Hastings Law Journal this December. Knox also recently authored a blog post on the topic for Just Security.
Having studied terrorism since her time at American University, where she majored in International Studies and minored in Arab Studies, she takes a nuanced view of whether social media provides material support for foreign terror organizations and professes to be torn on this issue. "I do understand the dangers that emanate from terrorist groups using social media, but I also think that the government has gone a bit overboard in terms of how it addresses terrorism and am concerned about the ramifications for free speech. I think that we have this visceral reaction to terrorism, which is warranted, but sometimes lose our ability to think clearly,” she said.
When she isn’t writing papers, she’s editor-in-chief at the Hastings Law Journal, where she tries to be a facilitator as much as a leader, “hands-off . . . because I trust my team.” With Knox at the helm, the staff focuses on increasing both transparency and a sense of community. “The most rewarding part of my job is seeing what we're able to accomplish as a group,” she said.
With a daily on-campus routine that starts at 8 a.m. and ends at 8 p.m., Knox is grateful for such rewards. She admitted that before law school, she’d never seen herself as a lawyer. It was her post-college position, recruiting personnel for international legal reform projects, which eventually led her to the law. “Little by little I realized the importance of the law, particularly in places where the rule of law is lacking. The more I spoke to lawyers, the more I learned how varied the profession is.”
Knox hopes to follow her interest in transnational legal issues, eventually entering the fields of international and appellate law. Her first step after graduation will take her Jones Day in San Francisco, and then on to two federal clerkships, one at the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California and one at the D.C. Circuit. After interning this past summer at the Office of the Legal Adviser at the U.S. State Department, she’s certain she wants to be a litigator, but “for now, I'm really enjoying having the next four years of my life planned.”