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 which 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.

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 joined the staff of Cornell Law School in 2008 after more than 12 years as a Customer Service Coordinator at a commercial printing company.  Her first job at Cornell was working with law students on Cornell's International Law Journal and the Journal of Law and Public Policy, as well as administering the Continuing Legal Education program.  She joined the LII team in 2011.

Valarie oversees the daily administrative responsibilities for the entire LII staff.  She is also responsible for tracking revenues and budget, coordinating our extensive student employment program, and maintaining our donor database. She is the initial point of contact for our millions of users and thousands of donors, as well as commercial partners, the Law School, and Cornell University.  Valarie coordinates visits from post-doctoral students, technologists, and legal informatics academics from around the world.  In 2012, she was responsible for logistics and facilities when we hosted more than 200 attendees from 39 countries for the Law Via the Internet Conference. 

Favorite LII feature: Our Wex legal reference.


Sylvia Kwakye, Text Systems Developer

Sylvia Kwakye

Sylvia uses data mining and natural language processing to transform dry legal texts into attractive, easy-to read, but accurate reflections of themselves. She also mentors Master of Engineering students on projects in these areas. (The LII works with ten+ M.Eng. students every year on various computer-and-law projects.)

With a BS in Engineering from Swarthmore, Sylvia began working with computers on her first job out of college as a research engineer with the Computational Biology Group at the DuPont Experimental Station in Delaware. “That’s where all the computer science courses I had taken for fun at Swarthmore College came to the rescue,” she says.

While working on her PhD in Biological and Environmental Engineering at Cornell University, Sylvia minored in computer science, where she did a project for the LII, converting the plain text of the U.S. Code to XML for the LII site. Intrigued, she continued working on the project until she completed her PhD.

For her PhD, Sylvia developed a system for rapid detection of pathogens for use in low resource communities, particularly in her native Ghana. She then created a start-up company to make the system commercially viable, but the group ran out of resources. Although the pathogen detection system is worth another startup, we’re happy to have Sylvia back with the LII.

Outside of work, Sylvia writes fantastical tales of the mythical and science fiction type, gardens avidly and likes looking up facts about germs and parasites.