Our Client Work
Casework builds students’ lawyering competence, confidence, and collaboration skills. Client matters are opportunities to develop transferrable lawyering skills, as well as effective teaching vehicles for justice readiness. Students collaborate in teams of two or three to develop lawyering skills–like setting agendas, client and expert interviewing, fact investigation, legal research and writing, giving and receiving constructive feedback, professional judgement, and creative problem solving–to create legal and sociotechnical work for justice-minded clients. To develop deeper relationships between supervisors, teams, and clients, students generally work with a single client throughout the semester. Students receive 3 credits for their casework performance and work product, as well as 3 credits for their lawyering development.
The Clinic’s casework is diverse–no two matters are the same. Our work has spanned copyright, trademark, patent, privacy, cybersecurity, freedom of information, professional ethics matters, and often several at once. Our practices included counseling, legislative, regulatory, policy, transactional, and amicus work. (The Clinic does not litigate or handle rights acquisition.) While the Clinic prepares some traditional legal work, such as pre-litigation memoranda, regulatory comments, white papers, one-pagers, and legislation, we are known for our creative guides, checklists, flowcharts, FAQs, and zines. But the breadth of our work best illustrated by our past matters:
- Advising a coalition of library stakeholders on creating a federal commemorative day to celebrate the public domain;
- Counseling an individual artist on copyright, trademark, and trade dress issues related to her “appropriation” art;
- Collaborating with a digital civil liberties nonprofit to draft an Initial Comment defending the right to repair and modify devices in the triennial Section 1201 rulemaking proceedings;
- Developing best practices for using new technologies within the Georgetown clinics;
- Counseling an educational arts collective on developing copyright policies;
- Developing FAQs on faculty copyrights in online course materials for author advocacy nonprofit;
- Drafting a policy paper supporting controlled digital lending for a library nonprofit;
- Drafting a letter to President Biden on behalf of a coalition of thirty-eight civil rights, medical, scientific, technology, patient advocacy, and environmental organizations to address patent subject matter eligibility reform efforts;
- Drafting model legislation to secure fair ebook sales terms to libraries on behalf of a library nonprofit;
- Developing a guide to taking down nonconsensual pornography from the Internet for a coalition of domestic violence service providers;
- Producing a policy paper predicting the future of controlled digital lending for a library nonprofit;
- Counseling a nonprofit newsroom on developing an equitable freelancer contract and copyright guide;
- Advocating for the creation of digital reading rooms in private libraries for a library nonprofit;
- Advising an open knowledge nonprofit on addressing the appropriation of copyrighted works for face surveillance;
- Filing an amicus brief arguing for open access to standards incorporated into law;
- Drafting model legislation to ensure that objections to the content in library databases are reviewed fairly and transparently;
- Producing an FAQ and Explainer for proposed legislation to expand patentable subject matter;
- Providing policy guidance regarding digital lending of library collections.
Our Classroom Work:
Coursework compliments casework by exposing students to doctrines and skills that will equip them to be justice-ready lawyers. The biweekly seminar is 4 credits. Seminar centers a series of iPIP x Social Justice sessions developed just for the Clinic, which explore how five IP doctrines (copyright, Digital Millennium Copyright Act, trademark, patent, trade secrets) and five central information policy doctrines (privacy, right of publicity, Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, Communications Decency Act Section 230, Freedom of Information Act) affect people marginalized by gender, indigeneity, race, sexuality, class, and disability. Small teams of students, different from casework teams, also design and lead their own iPIP x Social Justice sessions called Deep Dives. Past examples of Deep Dive topics include patent waivers and COVID-19 vaccines in the Global South, copyright and racist musical appropriation, decolonizing the modern museum with 3D printing (or not), combatting dis/misinformation with legal and sociotechnical interventions, genetic privacy and criminal investigations, IP and indigenous knowledge, and whether sharenting is a deceptive trade practice, and criminalizing or underprotecting Latinx art forms, among many others. Professor Levendowski has written about her approach to iPIP x Social Justice and Deep Dives here.
iPIP x Social Justice and Deep Dives are supplemented by skills sessions. During Orientation, students are (re)introduced to critical theory, which encourages students to think critically (in both senses of the word) when approaching casework, coursework, and conversations with colleagues. To help students practice their critical thinking skills, students lead and participate in collaborative workshops about their casework and case rounds, both of which also engage active listening skills and the abilities to give and share compassionate critique. Students also learn how to edit Wikipedia, an exercise that has received national acclaim. As part of that exercise, students improve an iPIP-related article in collaboration with colleagues and supervisors as a means of fulfilling their professional ethics duties as lawyers and freely, publicly providing legal research with fewer ethical concerns than traditional databases. Professor Levendowski has written about the Clinic’s Wikipedia editing here. The Clinic also emphasizes the skill of cura personalis, or the Jesuit value of “care for the whole person.” Students reflect on small and systemic changes that would improve their well-being throughout the semester, and a focused session saves space for supervisors and students to share strategies for self-care, both personally and professionally.