Boston University School of Law and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology announced in a press release Wednesday that they will jointly launch the Entrepreneurship and Intellectual Property Clinic this month and the Technology and Cyber Law Clinic in 2016, allowing MIT students to work closely with BU Law students to address the legal hurdles associated with their business ideas.
“BU [School of Law] students will advise the student entrepreneurs on how to set up and finance their new business, and address legal issues associated with smaller enterprises,” the press release stated. “They will also draft, review and negotiate contracts and other legal documents associated with the formation and protection of new companies.”
Dean of BU Law Maureen O’Rourke said the clinic places students in an interdisciplinary setting, giving students the opportunity to gain real-world practice and hone their law skills in a unique environment.
“My hope for the program is that the law students get a better understanding of how the clients think about the law and how the law thinks about the law,” she said.
MIT Chancellor Cynthia Barnhart said the joint program assists with an integral part of the entrepreneurial system.
“[The clinic] is another service we are providing to help them realize their potential,” she said. “We believe that this program is important to the ecosystem of innovations, knowledge and guidance related to legal issues.”
Barnhart said MIT’s partnership with BU will help MIT in its objective to help their students achieve success.
“The partnership will benefit students at both institutions while advancing MIT’s culture of innovation and entrepreneurship,” she said. “This is an important step forward in our efforts to support all MIT students as they imagine, innovate and create.”
The program currently consists of eight students and will be headed under the leadership of BU Law professor Eve Brown.
Those students will advise and represent other BU and MIT students who are interested in starting a business. They will give students legal advice such as how to set up and finance a new business, as well as address legal issues associated with smaller enterprises.
O’Rourke said BU Law student and J.D. candidate Kelvin Chan was instrumental in getting the clinic up and running. Chan assisted in the early stages of planning and attended the early talks with members of the MIT and BU communities. Additionally, Chan said he will be a part of the clinic this fall.
“At this point I’m just a student attorney with the clinic,” Chan said. “I was really lucky to get a chance to help out early on in terms of surveying other entrepreneurship clinics around the city and around the country to see what might work for us at BU.”
Chan said he thinks this is a great opportunity for both schools to bolster their programs and said he has high hopes.
“The partnership itself is such a natural fit for our two schools … I think we’re hoping to be a reliable, reputable source of legal services for our clients this year,” he said. “I think we’re also hoping that this is a challenging, exciting, meaningful experience for the students who are participating in the clinic.”
BU is in a position to offer the legal support that MIT’s rising entrepreneurs need to be competitive and successful, Chan said.
“For us at BU Law, this is a really unique learning opportunity,” he said. “I think law schools everywhere have sought to expand their practical skills programs and that this program has the potential to really put BU on the map as far as clinical teaching for law school students.”