Founded in 1999, the first-of-its-kind clinical program based at the Berkman Klein Center celebrates two decades of perpetual adaptation reports Harvard Law Today.
It was 1999 and the dot-com bubble was about to burst. Corporations were scrambling to address new legal challenges online. Napster was testing the music industry. And at Harvard Law School, what is currently known as the Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society was creating a clinical teaching program specializing in cyberlaw.
This clinical program, initially formed for a handful of students from Jonathan Zittrain’s Internet Law class, became the foundation of the Cyberlaw Clinic. It was the first of its kind, and the 2019–2020 academic year marks its 20th anniversary.
“As public interest technology became a more and more important theme in our society, it became clear that we needed to be training lawyers to do this important work. Nobody else was doing it, and I think it was really one of the most important things that the Berkman Klein Center did in its early days because it really did help to support a growing area of practice,” says John Palfrey ’01, then-executive director of the Berkman Klein Center and current president of the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation. “People who have been trained in the clinic have now gone on to extremely important roles in private practice, in governments, in non-profit practice. And we’re really super excited to see how it’s grown and evolved over 20 years, which seems impossible, but it’s true.”
The clinic provides high-quality, pro bono legal services to clients on issues relating to the internet, technology, and intellectual property. Students earn course credit by working on real-world litigation, client counseling, advocacy, and contractual projects under the supervision of experienced attorneys.
Over the past two decades, students have supported clients on issues such as copyright, online speech, litigation, intellectual property, privacy, online safety, free speech and media law, digital civil liberties, government innovation, communications infrastructure, regulatory compliance, and more.
Christopher T. Bavitz on the Cyberlaw Clinic’s 20th Anniversary