Whoever said you can’t go home again may want to chat with Jason Schultz. Recently appointed associate director of Boalt Hall’s Samuelson Law, Technology and Public Policy Clinic, Schultz ’00 has come full circle back to the institution he helped create.
“We’re really thrilled to have him,” says clinic director Deirdre Mulligan. “He has a completely unique perspective on what it means to develop a public interest agenda in this area of law. If you want someone who knows all the public interest players, all the organizations, corporations, and government agencies that impact these issues, you couldn’t ask for someone better.”
As a Boalt student during the dot-com boom, Schultz was captivated by the rapid expansion of technology law—and concerned about its bias in favor of corporations. A number of students galvanized to serve the public interest on these issues, deciding to form a clinic that could help make changes in the law. Schultz made the formal presentation to Boalt’s faculty during his final year, and soon thereafter the Samuelson Clinic was approved.
“But then I graduated and had to leave,” he says with a laugh, “so it’s wonderful to come back and be a part of it.”
After a year of clerking for a federal district judge in Oakland, Schultz practiced intellectual property law for Fish & Richardson. He spent the past 4½ years as a staff attorney for the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), a non-profit organization in San Francisco that protects the public interest in digital areas of free speech, privacy, innovation, and consumer rights.
Despite leaving Boalt, Schultz continued to help the clinic grow. He advocated for Mulligan’s hiring during her interview process and did pro bono work in connection with some of the clinic’s amicus briefs. Schultz has been a lecturer at Boalt for six semesters—teaching cyberlaw—while also leading an IP class at UC Berkeley’s School of Information.
He will focus on student instruction at the clinic, teaching its clinical seminar with Samuelson fellow Jennifer Lynch (clinic students must take an introductory seminar before choosing from various elective projects). Schultz will also work with students from UC Berkeley’s top-rated engineering and computer science departments, who bring a nuanced understanding of the technical issues involved.
“I’d always been fascinated with technology’s impact on society and I always wanted to work for social justice,” he says. “At Boalt, I saw a way to merge those interests, and now the chance to come back full time and help impart that to current students is kind of a perfect storm. The more I delve into teaching, the more I enjoy it. To be able to do that here, especially in connection with the clinic, is a special opportunity.”
Mulligan says the clinic will benefit from Schultz’s intensive background in patent and intellectual property issues, and from his varied litigation experience. With her own background more steeped in legislative and regulative work, she expects Schultz’s arrival to help students participate more aggressively in a wide range of legal battles.
“He’s one of the people who first thought this type of clinic was important,” Mulligan says. “Jason was there at the very beginning to help create this opportunity, and he showed the power that students can have while they’re still students.”
As a student, Schultz wrote for the Berkeley Technology Law Journal. He was also a research assistant for Professor Pamela Samuelson—a pioneer in digital copyright law, intellectual property, cyberlaw and information policy and for whom the Samuelson Clinic was named. As director of the Berkeley Center for Law & Technology, Samuelson also planned conferences with Schultz that further sparked his interest in the field.
“I was hoping that Jason’s trajectory would bring him back to Berkeley,” she says. “With his experience in a big firm and his terrific work at EFF, Jason is about as perfect a complement and as perfect a hire that we could possibly find. He’s a great example of what Boalt students can do, and I think he’ll bring out the best in them.”
– By Andrew Cohen