With technological advances driving greater social, economic, and political change—including access to information, health care, and entertainment; impacts on the environment, education, and commerce; and increased surveillance by law-enforcement agencies—issues related to privacy, consumer rights, algorithmic accountability, free speech, and intellectual property are becoming increasingly critical and complex. The Technology Law & Policy Clinic focuses on the representation of individuals, nonprofits, and consumer groups who are engaged with these questions from a public interest point-of-view. It involves a mixture of fieldwork and seminar discussion ranging from technology law and policy to the ethical challenges of representing public interest organizations.
The clinic is open to students from all backgrounds and seeks to expand the notions of “technology law” and “technology lawyers.” No technical degrees or past experience with any particular doctrines of law are required; the only prerequisite is a dedication to social justice. The clinic strives to empower its students to master “technical” areas of the law like privacy, intellectual property, bioethics, and data governance, and to fight for the public interest in such areas where corporate or government interests often predominate.
Every semester, the clinic takes on a diverse set of matters, so students in the clinic get broad exposure to the field of technology law even as they immerse themselves deeply in one or two projects.
Approximately one-half of the students in the clinic typically work with the teachers of the clinic and the American Civil Liberties Union’s Speech, Privacy & Technology Project on issues or cases currently on the Project’s dockets. Representative matters include:
- Filing public records requests and lawsuits to inform the public about government surveillance programs. For example, the ACLU has litigated Freedom of Information Act requests to force the disclosure of records regarding the warrantless tracking of the location of people’s cell phones and regarding new methods and technologies for disrupting large-scale protests;
- Unsealing court records related to government surveillance techniques and methods; and
- Contributing to various criminal and civil cases, through direct representation or amicus support, that challenge government surveillance and hacking.
The other half of the students in the Clinic typically work on representing individuals, not-for-profits and other public interest clients on matters primarily focused on intellectual property, privacy and consumer protection. Past representative matters have included:
- Advising the Open Source Hardware Association on its trademark certification program;
- Representing “appropriation” artists who comment on or criticize the work of other creators;
- Researching the legal implications of artificial intelligence for NYU’s AI Now Institute;
- Counseling the New York Public Library on the legal rules and risks associated with open source software production and on contracting with a major distributor of e-books and audiobooks;
- Challenging a major pharmaceutical company’s effort to extend its patent monopoly on life-saving HIV drugs, on behalf of an HIV/AIDS activist group;
- Suing the government to compel it to disclose more data on clinical trials of prescription drugs and medical devices;
- Counseling a documentary filmmaker on fair use; and
- Filing amicus briefs in key copyright, patent, trademark, and other intellectual property cases, such as Google v. Oracle (US Supreme Court), Food Marketing Institute v. Argus Leader (US Supreme Court), Hassell v. Bird (California Supreme Court), and In re Tam (Federal Circuit).
The NYU Technology Law & Policy (TLP) Clinic was founded in 2012 by Director and Clinical Professor Jason Schultz. The Clinic is currently co-taught by Adjunct Clinical Professor Esha Bhandari and Clinical Teaching Fellow and Supervising Attorney Jake Karr. Since its founding, the Clinic has been co-taught by Catherine Crump, Brett Max Kaufman, Amanda Levendowski, Christopher Morten, Lee Rowland, Aaron Williamson and Ben Wizner.
Students interested in applying to the Clinic should visit the NYU Law’s official application/course description page for more information.
The TLP Clinic is a program of Washington Square Legal Services, Inc., a New York not-for-profit 501(c)(3) corporation affiliated with NYU Law. While the TLP Clinic shares some faculty with the Engelberg Center on Innovation Law & Policy at NYU Law, the Clinic and Center are distinct. Views expressed by the TLP Clinic and its clients do not necessarily represent the institutional views of the Engelberg Center or NYU Law, if any.