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Our Berkeley Center for Law & Technology expands access and builds community

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Illustration by Teo Georgiev
For more than a quarter-century, tech law scholars and practitioners have turned to the Berkeley Center for Law & Technology to learn what’s happening in a constantly evolving and expanding field. Now, the center’s trajectory is heading even higher.

Just since the start of the year, BCLT held its 10th Privacy Law Forum, its first Advanced Life Sciences Institute, a packed symposium on the push to force companies to make their products serviceable by consumers rather than only technicians or engineers, and its annual Berkeley-Tsinghua Conference on Transnational Intellectual Property Litigation.

Also, the David E. Nelson ’59 Memorial Lecture featured center co-founder and renowned Berkeley Law Professor Robert Merges. He discussed IP’s impact on research and development and the economics of licensing transactions, after which a job fair helped students connect with practitioners.

Crowning this sizzling spring was a new major event, Berkeley IP & Tech Month — which offered 30 virtual sessions led by experts from Berkeley Law and Silicon Valley’s top firms — with each course eligible for Continuing Legal Education credit. Free to anyone for the first month and free to any UC graduate after that, the sessions are among the many offerings bundled onto a new online platform so practitioners can access them and snag their credits anytime.

“As part of our mission as a public university, we’re focusing on making this available at no charge to companies and attorneys that normally don’t have access to high-end education materials,” BCLT Executive Director Wayne Stacy says.

The sessions reached nearly 4,000 participants live and ran the spectrum from traditional IP law to myriad specialties, including artificial intelligence, music copyright issues, and even plant patents.

Berkeley Law Professor and BCLT co-founder Peter Menell says the sessions and their on-demand availability break new ground in the center’s longstanding commitment to educate judges, policymakers, practitioners, and students.

“This model harnesses the unparalleled excellence, breadth, and depth of the BCLT community and helps to level the educational playing field — key parts of BCLT’s and Berkeley Law’s mission,” he says.

U.S. News & World Report’s No. 1-ranked law school in IP for 19 years, Berkeley Law recently added life science to the center’s longtime pillars of patents, copyrights, and trade regulation; privacy and cyber; technology and societal impact; and information technology.

Striving to build a community among sector practitioners, Life Sciences Project leader Allison Schmitt ’15 says the inaugural Advanced Life Sciences Institute focused on IP and licensing, offered free virtual prep sessions, and provided ample time for networking.

For Stacy, these collective offerings help the center further cement its position as the industry’s go-to resource.

“BCLT has always created incredible, cutting-edge material … that impacts the development of law and policy in the tech and life science world,” he says. “We want to be the hub that helps expand that network of knowledge.” — Gwyneth K. Shaw