LII Staff

Thomas R. Bruce, Director

Tom BruceTom, along with Peter Martin, founded the LII in 1992. He has been its sole director since 2004. Tom wrote much of the original software used at the LII, and in 1993 wrote Cello, the first Web browser for Microsoft Windows. LII engineers -- no fools, these guys -- know better than to let him write code any more, but occasionally he slips some in when they're not looking. Usually, a server dies about ten minutes later.

Tom has worked on legal information projects on four continents, including projects in Sweden, South Africa, Japan, Spain, Italy, Vietnam, Zambia, Sierra Leone, and Australia, most recently as a consultant for the Open Society Institute. He has been a fellow of the Center for Online Dispute Resolution at the University of Massachusetts, and a Senior International Fellow at the University of Melbourne Law School. In 2009, the ABA Journal named him a “Legal Rebel”, one of 50 innovators doing the most to remake the legal profession in the United States.

Tom has a couple of degrees from Yale in subjects that have absolutely nothing to do with law or computers. He once covered the field at Harvard Stadium with a six-foot layer of smoke, and has worked as a stage- and production manager for opera companies in (among other places) Houston, Chicago, Miami, Columbus, and Omaha, where an elephant wreaked havoc during a production of Aida (he is still remembered in Omaha as a stage-management god). He also worked for the American Repertory Theater, the New World Festival of the Arts, and as the Director of Special Technical Projects for Spoleto Festival USA; for Eastern Airlines and IBM trade shows. He's also earned his living as a rock roadie and jazz-tour lighting designer, a commercial-refrigeration installer, and as a writer of things best forgotten. His work was once hailed as “an act of artistic vandalism” by Opera News.

For fun, he buys and sells antique tools, and builds furniture for friends and, infrequently, in unlikely places

Sara S. Frug, Associate Director for Technology

Sara FrugSara wrangles engineering projects for LII, where she has been working from time immemorial. Although rumors persist of a dot-com stint and a research post at Harvard Business School, she remains skeptical. When she's not looking after the welfare of a few hundred thousand web pages, she focuses on features that elucidate the connections between the law and things in the real world.

Craig Newton, Associate Director for Content Development

CraigCraig spent six years at the law firm Cooley LLP litigating a broad range of commercial disputes for companies such as Adobe, Facebook, and Qualcomm before returning to Ithaca. Having left a career as first a naval flight officer and then an intelligence analyst to attend law school, Craig calls upon all facets of his prior experience as he mentors teams of law students, manages our network of volunteers and legal professionals, monitors the website to discern usage trends and patterns, and pursues new partnership initiatives–all with an eye toward improving a range of products, including the Supreme Court Bulletin and case collection, the WEX legal encyclopedia/dictionary, the constellation of materials surrounding the US Constitution, and our ever-more capable editions of the US Code and the Code of Federal RegulationsWhile a student at Cornell Law School, Craig was the Editor-in-Chief of the LII Supreme Court Bulletin.

Mohammad Mourhaf AL Asswad, Semantic Web Researcher and Developer

Mohammad AL-Asswad

Mohammad Mourhaf AL Asswad is primarily responsible for developing and testing novel ideas for implementing the Linked Data and Text Analytics Technologies on legal text in order to support better search, retrieval and sharing of legal materials on the Web. Mohammad graduated with a PhD from Brunel University, Uxbridge, United Kingdom. He holds an MSc from Brunel University and a bachelor of Computer and Electronic Engineering from Aleppo University, Syria. His research interests focus on the adoption of Linked Data technology for the development of advanced Web applications. Moreover, he is interested in Natural Language Processing and Big Data Technologies and their utility in analyzing online big text corpus. Also, Mohammad has great passion for developing Java-based Web applications. He has published and presented his work in several per-reviewed journals and conferences. He is also a program committee member for a couple of International conferences.

Nic Ceynowa, System Administrator

Nick works as LII’s SysAdmin.  He possesses a BFA in Dance from the University of MN, and a MS in Computer Science from Fordham University.  Prior to working at LII, Mr. Ceynowa danced for multiple companies in NYC, most notably Paul Taylor’s 2nd Company, Taylor 2.  While pursuing his MS, Mr. Ceynowa worked as a technician for Apple Inc. and as a tutor/research assistant at Fordham.  His current interests include security, automation/devops, and yoga.

Brian Laurence Hughes, Web Developer

Brian Hughes got his B.A. in linguistics at Harvard. For 18 years Brian worked in university library systems. He began as evening circulation/reference at Northeastern Law School and ended as evening circulation/reference at International Legal Studies at Harvard Law School. He moved to computer support and then computer programming, both at the Harvard Law School. While at HLS, Brian was the PHP programmer for Terry Martin & Tom Bruce’s Leda project.

Brian became a programmer for the LII in September 2000. He mostly works with PHP, Python, Subversion and MySQL, and has hand a hand in LII’s donation systems, the Supreme Court project (the script that constructs the LII Bulletin was written by him), among others.

Brian lives in Andover, Massachusetts and works from his home. His wife Cathy Conroy works at Harvard Law School. Among Brian’s interests are classical music, languages, science (particularly physics) and nature (particularly trees).

Valarie Kimber, Administrative Coordinator

Valarie KimberValarie’s first real job out of college had nothing to do with her degree in human services. But over 12 years she grew to love working at a commercial printing company, and even earned the nickname “film chick” while working the prepress department. Valarie ended an illustrious career as a printer because she yearned for a more stable and calm environment.

So, she took a job at the Cornell Law School in 2008, working with the law journals and handling the administration of the Continuing Legal Education program. At some point over 3 years, she completely forgot her wish for stability and calm because she joined the LII team in 2011.

She enjoys cooking, wine touring, reading, traveling to Mexico in the winter with her daughter. She does not enjoy housework or shoveling snow.

Favorite LII feature: Nolo's Plain English definitions in the Wex legal dictionary.

Paul Miller, Marketing Communications Director

paulPaul is responsible for marketing, communications, fundraising, and advertising at the LII. He has over 20 years experience in the non-profit sector and has worked at Cornell University, the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers and for several government offices and performing arts organizations. He has a BA in the Humanities, an MFA in Writing and Literature, and continues to perform as a drummer and percussionist in his spare time.

Wayne Weibel, Interface Developer

Wayne WeibelWayne is the junior member of the LII team. He possesses a BS in Computer Science and an MA in HCI (Human Computer Interaction) both from SUNY Oswego. He is the Swiss army knife, complete with corkscrew, of LII; working on and helping out on everything from the databases, to XML, to the website you are seeing and using now. And, honestly, if he has done his job right, you will not ever be aware of what has been done (unless you are meant to), or the insomnia that was inspired. Some examples follow:

  • Wex: the Nolo entries are brought in from an eXist XML database
    CFR: powered by developed Drupal module (read - war of attrition with Drupal)
    Donation page: you may have gone here from a splash over (or heard others curse about said splash over)

25 (not really) Random Facts:
Favorite Constitutional Amendment: IX Non-Enumerated Rights (1791)
Taking latin in high school helps (a little): http://www.law.cornell.edu/wex/law_latin
Least favorite US Code Section: Title 17 § 1001

"To wish to be better than the world is to be already on the threshold of immortality" -F.H. Bradley