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Legal clinics have served over 75 students since opening

The Entrepreneurship and Intellectual Property law clinic, one of two legal clinics announced last September, has served “over 75 MIT students,” Chancellor Cynthia Barnhart PhD ’88 said.

The other clinic, which will focus on technology and cyberlaw, was appointed a director Tuesday: Andy Sellars, an attorney at Harvard University’s Berkman Center, will fill that role.

Plans for the clinics were formed after the founders of Tidbit, an MIT undergraduate’s startup, were subpoenaed by New Jersey’s attorney general in 2014. This highlighted a need for legal resources for students.

The Technology and Cyberlaw Clinic will focus on cyberlaw issues like Tidbit’s. The Entrepreneurship and Intellectual Property Clinic has already begun to provide student entrepreneurs with “legal guidance and protections they need for their innovation and entrepreneurial activities,” Barnhart said.

Barnhart said that the clinic will “assist [MIT students] in responding to cease-and-desist letters, notice-and-take-down orders, and other objections from private parties or government entities,” such as the obstacles the founders of Tidbit faced.

MIT students who come to the clinic receive advice from Boston University (BU) law students. Trish Cotter, Entrepreneur-in-Residence at the clinic, said “the students from BU are overseen by the BU faculty and provide students with education required in establishing businesses, founders agreements, etc.”

“The majority of clients come from Sloan or Engineering, but in recent months students from other disciplines, such as humanities and biology, have also sought the clinic’s services,” Barnhart said.

Barnhart said that along with advising students who request services, the clinic provides workshops on topics such as “open source code, choosing a state of incorporation, and how to crowd fund legally.”

BU School of Law’s website says the clinic will provide advice to MIT students regarding “laws related to technology and the internet that may affect their innovation-related activities.”

—Sanjana Srivastava