IPIP Creates Cutting-Edge Guide to Clinical Technology During COVID-19
Georgetown’s clinics’ unprecedented shift to virtual teaching presented a crucial opportunity to the Intellectual Property and Information Policy Clinic to reassess how technology is used to support clinical work and reflect on how clinics can do so consistent with their ethical obligations.
At the start of the fall 2020 semester, Intellectual Property and Information Policy Clinic (“iPIP”) director Amanda Levendowski and teaching fellow Nina Srejovic began answering both questions with a short memo. However, now three iPIP Clinic students – Delaney Halvey JD’20, Anna Stacey JD’20, and Noelle Wurst JD’20 – are taking the next step by drafting Georgetown’s first-ever guide to clinical technology. “It is really exciting to be working on this project right now, especially. The pandemic has revolutionized the way that we communicate in potentially permanent ways, making this work all the more important,” the team explained.
Halvey, Stacey, and Wurst began by researching the ethical rules relating to technology in D.C. and other key jurisdictions, as well as relevant guidelines from the American Bar Association. But their work also requires an understanding of the technology being used – or that could be used – in Georgetown’s clinics. Halvey described the project as “an exciting opportunity to synthesize my abilities as an engineer and computer scientist with the knowledge I have gained in the past two years as a law student, and shows how the legal field can benefit from students in STEM.”
To gather information about how technology is used currently by faculty, staff, and students, the students conducted a series of surveys and will be following up with interviews conducted on the Zoom platform. Coupled with conversations with Georgetown Law’s Assistant Dean for Information Technology and Chief Information Officer, George Petasis, these interviews will guide the students’ recommendations for how clinicians and their colleagues can use technology consistent with ethical guidance around competence and confidentiality. As Stacey noted, these different aspects of the project “[have] given us so many opportunities for professional and educational development. It has allowed us the chance to hone our skills in interviewing and collecting and presenting data, and to gain more substantive knowledge about data privacy practices.”
Juggling so many moving pieces has presented some unique challenges. But as Wurst put it, “[w]e have enjoyed [that] challenge of crafting a set of practices that both serve the clinical program’s best interests in the present and have the latitude to evolve with time and technology.” The students look forward to presenting their findings and recommendations to the clinical faculty later this fall.