We train the next generation of lawyers to advance the public interest in a digital age marked by rapid technological change. We focus our work on three main areas: protecting civil liberties, promoting balanced intellectual property laws and access to information, and ensuring a fair criminal legal system. We look for strategic opportunities in litigation, regulatory and legislative processes, and policy analysis.
The clinic seeks to train the next generation of lawyers to recognize and advance the public interest where law meets technology. Our cross-cutting focus on civil liberties, intellectual property, and criminal justice inspires students to take a broad view of the technology law field. Our emphasis on the public interest aims to help students recognize their professional duty to advance the public interest and feel empowered to do so—regardless of whether they aspire to work in the private sector, government, nonprofit organizations, or academia. And the experiential training we offer students—in filing briefs, drafting legislation, participating in regulatory matters, and counseling clients—allows them to develop skills in practicing law in a closely supervised and reflective environment.
The clinic has three current priorities:
Protecting civil liberties. The clinic works to protect individuals’ civil liberties in an era of rapid technological transformation, with a special emphasis on privacy and free speech. Digital technologies have vastly expanded the government’s capacity to collect, store, and analyze information about individuals. The rise of digital platforms has transformed the way individuals communicate with one another and reshaped our public debates, leading to calls for government intervention. The clinic represents individuals and nonprofit organizations in direct representation and amicus litigation at the trial and appellate levels in cases that provide opportunities to strengthen First and Fourth Amendment protections; supports state and federal legislative efforts in these areas; and produces policy advocacy reports both documenting and considering the civil liberties implications of emerging technologies.
Promoting balanced intellectual property laws, access to information, and public-minded information policy. The clinic works to ensure that intellectual property laws and policies further individuals’ right to access information, participate in the development and critique of their culture, and innovate freely. The clinic regularly represents libraries, archives, memory institutions, and other organizations whose efforts to preserve and provide access to information depend on clear copyright limitations and exceptions. The clinic also conducts in-depth research to inform and shape the debate over legislative and policy changes to intellectual property laws, such as its study of the U.S. copyright notice-and-takedown system. Finally, the clinic advocates at the federal, state, and local level for the rights of individuals to use communications networks without interference, manipulation, or surveillance by private or state actors.
Ensuring a fair criminal legal system. The clinic’s work to ensure a fair criminal legal system falls into two main categories. First, we focus on the criminal trial process, working with public defender organizations to advise on technology issues they see in their cases. To that end, we provide strategic advice for systematic litigation, advise on case-specific issues, and conduct trainings for attorneys who do indigent defense work to help them become more fluent in digital surveillance topics and investigatory methods. Second, the clinic focuses on the civil rights and liberties implications of how law enforcement agencies adopt novel surveillance technologies. We have worked with local governments and nonprofit organizations to explore the consequences of deploying surveillance technologies. We have also worked to establish overarching principles to protect liberties and ensure democratic control of technology-related policing decisions.