LL.M. Class of 2022
Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Matheus Drummond (LL.M. ’22) will participate in the Spring 2022 Sutardja Center for Entrepreneurship & Technology Collider Cup, an all-star showcase of student teams pitching their startup idea to panels of professors, investors, and industry experts for the opportunity to win funding of their startup/student venture.
As a teenager, I was planning to go to med school, but then I saw “A Time to Kill.” In that movie, Matthew McConaughey says something like, “with law you have a chance to save the world one case at a time.” And that really stuck with me. So I applied to law school with the mindset of trying to solve real world problems.
During law school I realized how low-tech and underserved the judiciary was. Brazil has the largest case backlog in the world; We have over 77 million cases pending, with an average duration of 4-6 years. A lot of people end up suffering because the proceedings take so long, and ultimately, people just lose faith in the justice system. This is also terrible for a democracy. So I said, okay, maybe I don’t just want to change the world one case at a time. Maybe I want to change it 1 million cases at a time, maybe I want to address the systemic issues, maybe even change the system.
I ended up working in litigation and arbitration at a top Latin American law firm for a few years. But I wanted to bring more of the reasons that made me want to become a lawyer into my practice. I met with the firm’s technology team, and the work they were doing resonated with me—thinking about how AI should be regulated and advising companies on privacy and cybersecurity issues. Around that same time, COVID hit, and suddenly the legal field was racing to embrace technology and modernize. Courts were holding proceedings online and urging for reforms. So it felt like the right time to shift my career in a more structured way.
I approached the LL.M. program with a very specific focus in mind: I wanted not just to learn technology law, but also learn how technology can be applied to legal practice. For example, how can software improve legal services and tackle bureaucracy to decrease barriers to entry so more people can materialize their fundamental rights? These were some of the questions I wanted to answer.
I chose Berkeley, first because of the top technology law faculty. But also because of the other top-ranked schools here, like Engineering, Haas, and the School of Information. I love the students in my cohort and Berkeley Law’s faculty are brilliant and incredibly kind. But even so, I felt that I needed to find other resources to bridge the growing chasm between what’s being discussed in law school and what’s happening in real life.
I was accepted to a guided resource and education program in machine learning at the School of Engineering and took a Cybersecurity course with Professor Chris Hoofnagle, where I had the opportunity to meet and learn with students from some of the other schools. They all were discussing applications of groundbreaking technology developed at Berkeley and presenting businesses with a very clear and logical path to make structural changes in the world I knew right away that’s what I had been looking for. So I talked to the ADP advisors and was able to load my spring coursework with classes from the Engineering and School of Information curriculum. I also shared my desire to bring more of this to the law school with my classmates Josh Lee, Suriti Chowdhary, Akhil Akhil Bhardwaj, and Anuja Shah (all LL.M ’22) and, together, we decided to found B-LIT – Legal Innovation and Technology @ Berkeley, an association that has become affiliated with the Berkeley Center of Law & Technology.
Around that time, I saw a poster for the fall Collider Cup and I knew I wanted to get involved. I approached all of the faculty that were participating after the event and said, ‘I’m a lawyer, I have no background, but I wanna learn. How do I join?’ They let me apply and I got into all the courses I was interested in. My Product Management class at the Sutardja Center of Entrepreneurship & Technology is the one that led to the venture my team is pitching at Collider Cup. We are working on an NFT ticketing platform to provide a safe, legitimate secondary market for concert and sports tickets to prevent scalping and scams with fake tickets. Besides myself, our team is made up of one master of software engineering, one master of industrial engineering, a master in design, plus two undergrads, one electrical engineering major and one from computer science.
It’s been a fun project to work on and I’m excited to be part of the Collider Cup competition, especially as the only law student. But I’m even more excited about a startup idea of my own that I had the opportunity to start in another class (Berkeley Method of Entrepreneurship). In Latin America, when someone dies it’s typically very difficult for families to navigate the overwhelming bureaucracy surrounding post-death logistics and to transfer wealth; so few people have access to estate planning ahead of time. Families are still dealing with loss the same way they did 80-100 years ago. In talking to some of my classmates, it seemed like a problem we could maybe solve through technology and law. So we pitched the idea to our class and ended up winning the best project award from among 23 other startup concepts. That’s when it clicked that maybe this idea could be the way I leverage technology and law to try to achieve my goal of solving millions of cases and helping tackle a real world problem that affects people in my home country of Brazil and across Latin America. After graduation I will officially become an entrepreneur and will be trying to make this startup a reality. Wish me luck!
It has been a crazy year. In terms of networking and learning how lawyers can be an integral part of a business venture, I think I’ve learned 10 years in one. I’m surprised more law students don’t take classes through these other amazing schools at UC Berkeley or get dual degrees. It’s a once in a lifetime opportunity to take advantage of the best this institution has to offer. And for me, it has been transformative.