By Bryan Demchinsky
Thanks to the generosity and vision of two American academics, uOttawa’s Faculty of Law is getting a boost that will enhance its reputation as a leader in the field of digital technology and the law.
Professors Robert Glushko and Pamela Samuelson, a husband and wife team who teach at the University of California, Berkeley, are creating the Samuelson-Glushko Professorship at the uOttawa faculty with a gift of $1 Million over five years.
It will, in the words of Dean Adam Dodek, “re-invigorate” the Samuelson-Glushko Canadian Internet Policy & Public Interest Clinic (CIPPIC), launched at uOttawa over 15 years ago and built with seed funding from Samuelson and Glushko.
“CIPPIC has established itself as Canada’s leading technology public policy clinic and as a global leader in the field,” Dean Dodek said.
Samuelson and Glushko’s gift has allowed the law faculty to recruit a lawyer and educator from Harvard Law School to lead the clinic as the inaugural Samuelson-Glushko Professor. Calgary-born Vivek Krishnamurthy is also counsel at the Boston office of Foley Hoag LLP, a leading firm specializing in technology issues among other areas of practice.
“We are pleased to support CIPPIC because it provides students with the opportunity to address important legal and policy issues arising from advances in new technologies. We have high confidence that under Vivek's leadership, the public interest on information policy issues in Canada will be well represented through CIPPIC projects.”
— Pamela Samuelson & Robert Glushko
Krishnamurthy’s leadership will allow the faculty to take the next step in CIPPIC’s development. He will bring international experience through his work at the Berkman Klein Center for Internet and Society at Harvard University. The gift will expand the opportunities for uOttawa students to work on cutting edge issues of today and tomorrow.”
— Adam Dodek, Dean, Faculty of Law - Common Law section
“Pam Samuelson and Bob Glushko have been exceptional public interest technology policy leaders for decades, providing both the scholarly foundation and financial support to public interest clinics around the world. CIPPIC is proud to be part of their remarkable network and grateful for this generous gift that will enable the University to help shape Canadian digital policy and train the next generation tech policy experts and advocates.”
— Michael Geist, Professor of Law and Canada Research Chair in Internet and E-commerce Law
A focus on public policy
uOttawa’s Faculty of Law has carved out a space in legal education that puts public policy concerns in the forefront. Indigenous legal traditions, human rights, immigration, digital technology, environmental law and social justice issues are given special attention.
“We have always been a very publicly engaged law faculty.” Dean Dodek said. “We are a law school that encourages students, staff and faculty members to get involved in public affairs, in law reform, in giving people access to justice, and to explaining the law to the media and to the public.”
The Samuelson-Glushko Canadian Internet Policy and Public Interest Clinic fits this mandate. It has often provided research in briefs that have gone before the Supreme Court of Canada, Dodek said. It is something uOttawa students deal with in their studies. “They are involved with real-life cases in the digital world that are now going on.” Indeed, that is the definition of a clinic – a place that works on live issues as opposed to a lab, which does research.
“It is experiential learning, which is priority for us – learning by doing, not just didactically in the classroom. For the students who have the opportunity to work as part of a course or in an internship during the summer, it’s the experience of a lifetime.”
Advocating for the public interest in technology issues
Pamela Samuelson is the Richard M. Sherman Distinguished Professor of Law and Information at UC Berkeley School of Law, and Co-Director of the Berkeley Center for Law & Technology.
Robert Glushko is a cognitive scientist and entrepreneur, co-founder of three companies, and currently on the faculty of the University of California Berkeley Cognitive Science Program..
The couple have funded four Glushko-Samuelson clinics in the U.S. and are starting another in the Netherlands, all specializing in advocating for the public interest in technology issues. CIPPIC is the only clinic of its kind in Canada.
The global nature of the clinic is illustrated in its funding. It might seem unusual that American lawyers are endowing a law faculty in Canada. But it is part of a larger initiative by Samuelson and Glushko.
It is Professors Samuelson and Glushko’s mission to make policy makers and the public aware of the impact of digital technology on our lives. It is their vision to make that mission one that transcends borders at a time when borders seem harder to cross.