Intellectual Property Law Gets Experienced

19 Pages Posted: 28 Dec 2018

See all articles by Victoria F. Phillips

Victoria F. Phillips

American University - Washington College of Law

Date Written: December 12, 2018


A decade ago, in Clinical Legal Education and the Public Interest in Intellectual Property Law, I described with my faculty colleagues our motivations for launching a public interest intellectual property law clinic at the American University Washington College of Law. That article introduced our goals and framework for a pioneering clinic framed around a variety of live-client student representations performed under close faculty supervision, weekly case rounds focusing on issues experienced directly by the students in their representations, and a seminar built around a year-long lawyering simulation addressing the public interest dimensions of intellectual property. In that article, we chronicled one live-client student representation in the copyright policy area, the Copyright Office's 1998 Digital Millennium Copyright Act's exemption proceedings, to illustrate our effort to help students better understand the interaction of theory, doctrine, and practice in the dynamic field of intellectual property law.

In this essay, I reflect on developments in the decade since publication of that piece and explore the growth and maturing of the new community of law school intellectual property law clinics. I find that in most respects these new clinics stand comfortably on shoulders of the pioneers of the clinical legal education movement. The founders of the early clinical programs were responding to the social ferment and legal rights explosion of the 1960s. They envisioned the clinical method as much more than merely a way to enrich legal education with professional and skills training. They also saw it as a means of encouraging law schools to attend to the legal needs of the disenfranchised and to engage students in the pursuit and understanding of social justice. In the last decade, the IP clinical community has matured to serve the very same access to justice goals. The new clinics are strong voices in the IP realm for the public interest, consumer and civil liberties communities. The IP clinic community has also expanded and inspired much needed access to pro-bono IP and related legal services for underserved communities of creators, non-profits, small businesses, and start-up entities.

Keywords: intellectual property, clinical legal education

Suggested Citation

Phillips, Victoria F., Intellectual Property Law Gets Experienced (December 12, 2018). 59 IDEA: The IP Law Review, 249 (2018)., Available at SSRN:

Victoria F. Phillips (Contact Author)

American University - Washington College of Law ( email )

4300 Nebraska Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20016
United States

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