Daniel Steinbrook, 28
HEBREW NAME: Tzvi
CURRENTLY LIVING IN: Cambridge
ALMA MATERS: Marblehead High School ’07, Harvard University ’11
JOB: Director of Intellectual Property Solutions, Aon
FAVORITE FOOD: Any sandwich from Milk Street Café – that’s the little kosher restaurant in downtown Boston.
FAVORITE MUSIC: Jazz
FAVORITE BOOKS: “One Hundred Years of Solitude” by Gabriel Garcia Marquez.
FAVORITE PROGRAMMING LANGUAGE: Python
FAVORITE TV SHOW: “3rd Rock from the Sun”
FAVORITE TRAVEL DESTINATION: Southern California
PLACES YOU WANT TO GO TO NEXT: Anywhere that pushes my cycling limits
FAVORITE JEWISH PERSON NOT IN YOUR FAMILY: I have a lot of respect for Jonathan Sacks, the former chief rabbi of the U.K.
FAVORITE JEWISH HOLIDAY: Tisha B’Av happens to be my Hebrew birthday
WHAT WAS YOUR JEWISH BACKGROUND GROWING UP?
I went to preschool at Temple Beth El [in Swampscott], and went to Hebrew school and did Junior Congregation there, and from there I went to college and I joined the klezmer band on campus – I played the clarinet there and I ultimately ended up leading the group as the president and music director. My first exposure to young people playing klezmer was at Temple Israel [in Swampscott] with Cantor Ken Richmond, who actually led the klezmer band when he was at Yale – I remember learning some of the music he transcribed. I’m still somewhat active in the Jewish community in Cambridge – there’s a lot of young Jews in Cambridge, which is nice. One of the organizations that I think has done a really great job that I’ve gone to for a couple of years is Moishe House, which have been popping up all over the place, but the community in Cambridge is particularly strong. It’s sort of meant as a post-collegiate social organization for young Jews to get together.
NOW YOU WORK AS AN INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY CONSULTANT?
I work as a consultant for intellectual property lawyers about software – I’d describe myself as a forensic computer scientist. Lawyers hire me and my colleagues to do technical investigations of software patent disputes or cybersecurity incidents. Sometimes I even get to show up in court. I got started in the law/technology intersection when I was in college, and my sister was in law school, she suggested I spend a summer at the Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society at Harvard that studied the intersection of law and technology. So I got started there, and I found it interesting enough that the subsequent summer I got started at the company where I still am now eight years later, doing less of the social sciences and more of the actual engineering part. I was fortunate to find a job that really meshed well with my strengths.
WHAT DOES YOUR JOB ENTAIL?
We work on a wide variety of different cases. It all boils down to helping lawyers or judges or juries understand technology. On a day-to-day basis, there’s a lot of analysis of technical material – reading source code, writing code that will analyze other source codes to get some insights into how it works, doing some actual reverse engineering of software and hardware to explain how it works, writing expert reports, working with faculty members and universities. I also get to travel around with lawyers sometimes – help them take depositions to know what kinds of questions they should be asking software developers or witnesses who know something about the lawsuit at hand.
THIS MUST BE CONSTANTLY EVOLVING WITH NEW TECHNOLOGY.
A lot of the technology we investigate from big companies is from old systems, so sometimes we get to deal with cutting-edge technology, but sometimes it’s pretty old stuff. Certainly the rules and regulations change in addition to the technology, so there are certainly things to keep up on – many cases in the last few years that have changed how easy it is for companies to assert patents against one another, so that’s changed the kind of cases we get. There have been new regulations regarding data privacy, particularly in Europe, that put a lot more burden on companies for how they protect their data, and the kind of penalties that are involved when things go wrong.
BOTH YOU AND YOUR SISTER, HILLARY STEINBROOK, WERE MARBLEHEAD HIGH SCHOOL VALEDICTORIANS. WAS IT SOMETHING IN THE WATER?
There was a high level of academic excellence expected in our family. Our parents are also academics.
WHAT DID YOU TALK ABOUT IN YOUR VALEDICTORY SPEECH?
I remember mentioning James Brown – he had passed away that year, so he was certainly in the news, so I played a snippet of “I Feel Good.” Honestly there was one part that I remember – that I added a saxophone solo to the end of it. The band played at graduation – I was in the band for part of it. I guess it was inadvertently inspired by Bill Clinton, who was also known for adding sax solos – not really who I was trying to channel, but still. The whole clarinet-playing, saxophone-playing was not just something I got into in college but was one of the parts of my identity then as well.