Decoding Stephen Reynolds
Stephen Reynolds was a coder before becoming a prominent IP litigator and data security maven
Published in 2018 Indiana Super Lawyers magazine on February 20, 2018
At 10, Stephen Reynolds was one of several classmates selected to participate in a weekly computer skills pull-out program conducted at Florida State University’s Supercomputer Computational Research Institute.
“[The] lab had a supercomputer and little terminals and the students would learn how to use the internet, including telnet, HTTP, FTP and the first internet search engine I can remember, WebCrawler,” says Reynolds. By the time middle school approached, Reynolds was tinkering with computers at home and figuring out HTML by studying websites’ source code. By the late 1990s, his hobby paid off when his high school marketing teacher introduced him to a local lawyer in need of a functional website.
“Most businesses either didn’t have a website or they were usually pretty bad,” says Reynolds. Once the lawyer’s site was up and running, the resulting word-of-mouth led to a steady stream of projects from other business owners. “I didn’t realize that people would pay me to do this!” he adds.
While studying computer engineering in college, he worked as a software tester for an accounting and aviation textbook and software manufacturer. “This was around the Y2K period, so they were changing their customer sales software and building an online store,” says Reynolds. “At the time, most of the orders came through call centers.” His role involved creating a seamless customer experience from online payment through the shipping phase.
With the internet still in its infancy, Reynolds spent a lot of time trying to explain the new technology in layman’s terms.
“At one company,” he remembers, “people would ask me, ‘Is the website still up?’ It was created. It was there. I would update it from time to time, but they [seemed to think] there was some ongoing process I was doing to keep that running.”
So how did this whiz kid, on the ground floor of a tech revolution, wind up in a profession dominated by precedent?
During his senior year of college, fascinated by some introductory law courses he had taken, Reynolds decided to pursue law school instead of a career as a programmer. “I was working for a company and realized I was doing more management of programmers than actually creating,” he says, “so I decided I wanted to get into something else.”
Now a partner in the litigation and intellectual property group—as well as co-chair of the data security and privacy practice—at Ice Miller in Indianapolis, Reynolds still draws from his IT background on a daily basis. “I like to work on cases that involve technology, such as software licensing disputes and litigation,” he says. “The bulk of my practice is data security and privacy law—helping companies respond to security incidents and deal with [any resulting] litigation.”
He’s still serving as something of a technological interpreter, drilling down to the core issues and relaying them to clients in a language they understand. With virtually every company vulnerable to hackers interested in monetizing stolen data, Reynolds—who is also involved in Ice Miller’s Internet of Things industry initiative—has worked with clients running the gamut from health care and financial services to utility and electric companies.
One thing he misses? Accomplishments that don’t have to be confidential. “Part of the fun of being a programmer [is showing] people the websites that I have created,” says Reynolds. “As a data security and privacy attorney, you don’t have that experience. The creative solutions to complex problems—my best work and the most rewarding experiences for me—are not something that everyone sees.”
Stephen Reynolds’ Online Safety Tips
As technology assumes an even greater role in personal and professional lives, Reynolds offers some general tips to improve online safety:
> A risk-based approach. “There is no one-size-fits-all solution. Think about the particular risks at hand and what you are protecting [and implement] a risk-based, cost-effective approach to cybersecurity.”
> Password protection. “Be careful with passwords and use good password habits and
two-factor or multifactor authentication where possible, so you are not just dependent on a password. There [are recently released] password guidelines by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) that are good to use.”
> Heightened awareness. “Be cyber-aware, pay attention and think before you click on
emails and email attachments.”