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Penn Law recognized as a leader in law and technology

June 03, 2019

With an expanding array of curricular, research, experiential learning, policy advocacy, and scholarship opportunities over the past decade, Penn Law has become the school to watch for the most innovative offerings in law and technology. Under the umbrella of the Center for Technology, Innovation & Competition (CTIC) and its associated faculty, research, teaching, and events, Penn Law rose from number 16 to a tie for number 8 in the 2020 U.S. News & World Report law school specialty rankings for intellectual property. Relatedly, the Law School was also once again the number one law school in the country for employment outcomes, for which the rankings incorporate employment outcomes both at the time of graduation and 10 months after.

A commitment to cross-disciplinary education is a hallmark of the Penn Law experience, and the school is uniquely positioned among those at top research universities to offer a cutting-edge suite of educational opportunities and research initiatives in law and technology.

“As it turns out, none of the leading engineering schools on the East Coast have law schools,” observed Christopher Yoo, John H. Chestnut Professor of Law, Communication, and Information & Computer Science and CTIC’s Founding Director. “Penn is home to both a great law school and the pioneering engineering school that created the world’s first digital computer, the ENIAC. We also have faculty and leadership in both schools with a strong desire to work together.”

CTIC has also been the driving force behind the foundational research at Penn Law that is reshaping the way policymakers and scholars think about the challenges posed by the Internet, intellectual property, privacy, and related fields.

For example, CTIC is home to 1 World Connected, a project led by Professor Yoo that is designed to produce data-driven research that will help more communities around the globe connect to the Internet.

“There are seven billion people worldwide, but only half of them are online, and adoption rates are slowing,” Yoo noted. “We are trying to identify the best ways to enable everyone to enjoy the economic, educational, medical, and equality-promoting benefits that the Internet can provide.”

In addition, Penn Law professors continue to produce groundbreaking scholarship that pushes the conversation forward on issues of intellectual property, antitrust, and technology. CTIC Co-Director and Professor of Law Shyam Balganesh focuses his scholarship on IP and innovation policy. He has recently published work in the Columbia Law Review and the University of Pennsylvania Law Review, and is working on a book examining the intellectual history of American copyright law.

“One of the truly distinctive features of the CTIC is intellectual and methodological diversity of approaches and perspectives that its faculty members bring to conversations and debates about law and technology,” said Balganesh. “This sets us apart from traditional law and technology centers around the country.”

Additionally, Professor of Law David Hoffman led a team of researchers to conduct the first-ever detailed analysis of “Initial Coin Offerings” (ICOs) of cryptocurrencies. The study was downloaded thousands of times during the first few days it was released and was ultimately published in the Columbia Law Review.

Students at Penn Law are able to gain hands-on experience in IP law through the Detkin IP & Technology Legal Clinic, which provides pro bono transactional patent, copyright, trademark trade secret, and data-security and privacy services to individuals as well as non-profit and for-profit clients in technology and the arts.

“The next generation of IP lawyers need both good client relations skills and the ability to thrive in still-developing areas of the law,” said Cynthia Dahl, Practice Professor of Law and the Director of the Detkin Clinic. “I believe part of preparing them to practice is giving them the chance to work with interesting and varied clients, who push the envelope with cutting edge technologies, present interesting questions of law, or contribute meaningfully to the economy or public discourse. I also ask the law students to work with students from other schools, because I believe an interdisciplinary law practice will soon be the norm.” 

“I am thrilled that the Detkin Clinic is providing a platform for Penn Law students to work with the rest of the Penn community, including the Engineering, Medical and Wharton schools,” said Peter Detkin EE’82, L’85, noted IP entrepreneur and Founder and Vice Chairman of Intellectual Ventures, an invention investment firm, whose gift to Penn Law facilitated the creation of the Clinic. “This allows Penn Law students to gain real-world experience working with intellectual property, while educating students in the other schools on the value of intellectual property.  Cindy’s leadership has been instrumental in taking this vision — developed several years ago in conversations between me, [Penn Law Professor of Law, IP expert, and CTIC faculty member] Polk Wagner and then-Dean Fitts — and turning it into a reality.”

As part of Penn Law’s interdisciplinary curricula, students interested in law and technology can take advantage of the Law School’s many joint degree and certificate programs such as the innovative JD/MSE (Master of Science in Engineering) and the JD/MCIT (Master of Computing and Information Technology).

“Our groundbreaking joint degree programs are driven by the conviction that society now needs a new type of professional with advanced training in both law and technology,” said Yoo.

“The JD/MCIT program has given me the opportunity to work on programming projects with the brilliant computer scientists studying and teaching at the Engineering School, and to take classes with the phenomenal CTIC faculty at the Law School,” said JD/MCIT student Teddi Anne Josephson L’19 GEng’19. “As I move forward in my career, I’ll be empowered to bridge the gap between the technical and the legal in exciting ways that wouldn’t have been possible without pursuing both degrees.”

For non-lawyers whose work or intellectual interests focus on law and technology, Penn Law allows Penn students and staff to earn a one-year ML (Master in Law) specializing in technology.

Penn Law’s law and technology programs have continued to expand thanks to the support of alumni dedicated to cross-disciplinary education. Earlier this year, Osagie Imasogie GL’85 and Losenge Imasogie pledged $3,000,000 to create the “Imasogie Professorship in Law & Technology,” a position open to cross-disciplinary scholars whose work bridges the interconnected fields of law and technology.

“Penn Law is uniquely positioned to continue to provide national and international leadership in the interdisciplinary field of Intellectual Property. Penn’s singular ability to integrate knowledge across and amongst its twelve distinct schools provides an amazing synthesis of ideas and thoughts to address the reality of Intellectual Property becoming the new global currency,” said Osagie Imasogie. “It is the spectacular work being done by Christopher Yoo and his colleagues in the CTIC, coupled with the practical, hands on experiences offered by the Detkin IP & Technology Legal Clinic, along with the insights and creativity reflected in the Penn Law student body and other academics from the various Penn schools, that attracted Losenge and me to support Penn Law by endowing the Imasogie Professorship.” 

Penn Law also recently launched a new set of massive open online courses (MOOCs) on intellectual property law and regulatory compliance through Coursera, which will bring the Law School’s IP expertise to a wider audience.

To learn more about how Penn Law is innovating in law and technology education and research, check out the CTIC Annual Report, subscribe to the CTIC monthly newsletter, and follow @pennlawctic on Twitter.