A few weeks ago, Tipping the Scales included the story of Boston University’s law school partnering with MIT for a startup legal clinic in our news review. For a recap, the partnership was created for this semester in response to Tidbit. Not familiar with Tidbit? It was a computer program that would essentially allow websites to make money without online ads.
Pretty genius, right? Yes, until New Jersey’s attorney general alleged the same technology was used to hack computers. The resulting suit tied up the four MIT students who created the technology in court for a year. The court battles lasted long enough to allow someone else the time to figure out and adopt the technology, leaving the MIT students with nothing. The whole debacle sent waves of caution across the Boston campus that prides itself on innovation and invention.
“For students who are working on really innovative things, they need to be able to show people what they’re working on,” Jeremy Rubin, the lead student on Tidbit, told the Huffington Post. “Making those resources available will be immensely helpful.”
In an effort to give BU’s law students real-life practical experience — and protect innovative MIT students — the schools have created the free legal clinic for entrepreneurs. “There is this increasing interest among our students to engage in innovation and entrepreneurial activities,” Cynthia Barnhart, the chancellor of MIT and an engineering professor, told the Huffington Post. “MIT students needed exactly these kinds of services.”
And the two schools are not alone, according to the Huffington Post. The law schools at the University of Virginia and Northeastern University have opened similar clinics for student entrepreneurs. The University of Missouri’s law school started one this semester and Penn State’s law school has plans in the works for next year.
“These clinics are growing because there’s an unmet need,” James Greif, spokesman for the Association of American Law Schools, told Huffington Post. “Patent applications have tripled over the last 20 years, and small businesses make up about half of the private sector in the U.S.”
To be sure, all signs point to these clinics being a true win-win. Law students get some relevant and intriguing real-life experiences and student entrepreneurs receive free legal assistance. This is a growing trend that will most likely continue as startups continue to thrive.
Source: Huffington Post
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