Earlier this year the Searle Center on Law, Regulation, and Economic Growth received a large grant from Qualcomm Incorporated to support a major new research initiative. “Innovation Economics” is an interdisciplinary undertaking that will study patents, technology standards, and standard setting organizations with an eye toward developing a better understanding of how inventive activity occurs, how it is commercialized, and what might be done to facilitate future innovation.
The project, directed by Daniel F. Spulber of the Kellogg School of Management and Searle’s Research Director, will create a set of databases that focus on standards development organizations, standards setting organizations, technology standards, and standard-essential patents; patent licensing, assignment, and litigation; complementary inventions and so-called “patent thickets”; “royalty stacking” and “hold-up”; and markets for patents and the valuation of patents. These databases are being made available to researchers on the Searle Center website.
As part of this initiative, the Searle Center will also host the United States Patent and Trademark Office’s (USPTO) Trademark Case Files Dataset. This dataset contains information about approximately 6.7 million filed trademark applications and registrations issued between January 1870 and January 2012. The information in this dataset includes: data on mark characteristics, prosecution events, ownership classification, third-party oppositions, and renewal history. It, too, is available on the Searle Center website.
Taken together, the constituent elements of the project on Innovation Economics should generate new insights and pave the way for an understanding of the important roles that patents and other types of intellectual property play in innovation.
Congratulations to my colleagues at the Searle Center. I look forward to watching this project develop.
Last night at Salvage One in downtown Chicago, the CWC hosted its second annual benefit and awards ceremony. They honored the filmmakers of the Central Park Five and West Memphis documentaries and Rep. Scott Drury ’97 whose legislative work on behalf of justice reform has assisted greatly the innocence movement in Illinois.
The highlights of the evening were the remarkable comments by four recent exonerees. Collectively, they spent over sixty years in prison for crimes they did not commit. To an attentive crowd of 200+, they briefly told their stories and expressed their heartfelt gratitude to all the folks who helped their causes.
God bless each of these brave individuals. And, again, kudos to the remarkable work of this remarkable organization. I am very proud that it is a cornerstone of our Bluhm Legal Clinic at Northwestern Law School.
The ever growing strategic focus on legal education for non-lawyers builds on an emerging insight about the nature of legal education. I would describe this as follows: Legal education consists of three large sticks in a general bundle; one is the development of lawyerly skills, what has long been described as educating students to “think like a lawyer.” Circular on its own terms, to be sure, but the idea captures the admixture of reasoning, communication, and advocacy that is characteristic of professionals who work in the legal domain on behalf of clients (using “clients” here broadly to include, as well, public service and law reform activities). Training lawyers requires a coherent sense on the part of educational providers of what mix of skills is encompassed in this category of lawyerly skills. What, in short, does a young lawyer need to know to be able to “think like a lawyer?”
Next is the development of skills essential to engaging in the practice of law. Experiential learning is at the heart of this; yet, much of what we aim to do throughout the curriculum, including the so-called doctrinal classes, is (or at least ought to be) channeled in the direction and service of enhancing the ability of students to practice law. (These include, although I won’t say anything more about this here, the development of a professional identity and an ethical compass tied to the lawyer’s profession, all of which are properly encompassed in “skills training”).
Finally, we aim to provide substantive content, starting with the foundation laid in the first year and extended, cumulatively, through the coursework provided, sometimes required, sometimes elective, in the upper division. In short, we expect our graduating students to know some law, and be able to draw upon their best analytical skills to reason in the law as they tackle, first, the bar exam, and, next, the demands of the fields in which they engage and practice.
What our efforts to train non-lawyers do, in essence, is to unbundle legal education. We look at ways of developing some relevant skills in individuals who will not practice law, but who will deploy law and work with lawyers on accomplishing their professional objectives. This is skills training to be sure, but it is the training in skills that map not only legal practice, but onto the professional domain in which these non-lawyers operate and function. Moreover, we aim to give these individuals substantive legal knowledge, knowledge which can and ought to be applied in settings in which law and the legal environment matters to their field, to their performance, and to their enterprise. None of them are truly taking the place of lawyers; rather, they are accumulating knowledge which enables them to engage and work with lawyers, on behalf of their objectives and with the newly acquired benefit of a common vocabulary and a more fruitful pathway to important objectives.
“Thinking like a lawyer” is not a part of this enterprise except in the very broad sense that non-lawyers can learn in the unique environment of a law school how lawyers reason and analyze. Unbundling legal education in the sense I describe it here means providing not “law school lite” for these students but, rather, a coherent structure of training that is suited to the goals and tied squarely to the objectives of the professionals who operate in a space in which law is relevant and, indeed, omnipresent.
Post containing some data.
NU’s new MSL program is referenced in the post, along with mentions of some innovative new programs from peer law schools.
In all, this is a superb post by Prof. Mueller at Pepperdine. It really captures the nub of what law schools like ours are doing, that is, expanding the scope of legal education by looking at the products that we produce. Training new lawyers to be sure, but also providing legal training to the myriad professionals who use, if not practice in the strict sense, law.
As always, a highlight for me was the opportunity to have a dialogue with the group about the Law School and its ambitions and activities. I noted that the reactions of the many law school leaders I had been working with in the past several months in connection with my work on behalf of the Association of American Law Schools could be broken into four categories: (1) Nothing has significantly changed. We are just fine and we will ride out this current, temporary set of difficulties by doing exactly what we have been doing all along; (2) The sky is falling and we need to scramble for cover; (3) Change is profound and, in order to adjust rapidly to the standard ways of doing business, we need a panacea, a new program, economic model, etc., which, as soon as we adopt it (whatever the “it” is), we will be able to right this sinking ship; and (4) While change is significant and important, we must, in adapting, stay true to who were are. We need to be innovative to be sure, but also have a clear, firm commitment to the fundamentals of educational excellence.
Naturally, I described the ways in which Northwestern is working within the structure of this fourth category.
DC alums were excited about this new alumni club and were excited and supportive about the state and direction of the Law School. We are proud of all our alums who, in our nation’s capital, are doing extraordinary things in law, business, and government. This area is an extraordinary, vibrant place to live and work and we will continue actively to reach out to DC alums with both social events and substantive programming.