Christopher T. Bavitz
WilmerHale Clinical Professor of Law
Managing Director, Cyberlaw Clinic at the Berkman Center for Internet and Society
Christopher T. Bavitz is Managing Director of Harvard Law School’s Cyberlaw Clinic, based at Harvard’s Berkman Center for Internet & Society. He is also a Clinical Instructor and Lecturer on Law at HLS, where he teaches the seminar, Music & Digital Media, and has co-taught the Practical Lawyering in Cyberspace seminar.
Chris has concentrated his law practice and clinical activities on intellectual property and media law, with an emphasis on music, entertainment, and technology. He oversees many of the Cyberlaw Clinic’s projects relating to copyright, trademark, online speech, and advising of mission-oriented startups and entrepreneurs about their legal, business, and strategic needs. He also works on issues relating to the use of technology to promote access to justice.
Chris joined the Clinic in September 2008 as a Clinical Fellow. He was named Assistant Director of the Clinic in 2009 and was promoted to Clinical Instructor at HLS in 2010.
In his nearly six years at the Clinic, Chris has managed a wide range of work for a wide variety of clients. He has worked closely with Clinic students on matters relating to public media, including collaborations with WBUR’s OpenCourt project (which offered livestreams of court proceedings in Massachusetts) and a long-running association between the Clinic and the Cambridge-based Public Radio Exchange. Chris has also worked with students and clients to draft amicus briefs addressing legal issues before state and federal courts, including the interplay between defamation law and the First Amendment; the attempted use of trademark law to suppress critical speech; the right of citizens to record police officers carrying out their duties in public; the continuing viability and scope of the hot news misappropriation doctrine; and the propriety of a prior restraint against online publication. And, he has teamed up with students and others to prepare public-facing resources regarding the state of the US music industry; privacy law as it pertains to children’s data; and the legal framework that governs newsgatherers in Massachusetts.
Chris serves as Harvard Law School’s Dean’s Designate to the Harvard Innovation Lab, where he works closely with HLS’s Experts in Residence and attorneys who offer legal services to those who work at the i-Lab. He is a member of Harvard Law School’s Public Service Venture Fund Seed Grant Selection Committee and served this year as a Preliminary Judge for Harvard University’s President’s Challenge. He sits on Harvard Law School’s IT Steering Committee.
In addition to his classroom and clinical teaching activities at HLS, Chris has served as a mentor during this, the inaugural year of the Harvard University-wide Digital Problem Solving Initiative. The Initiative is a cross-disciplinary teaching effort being piloted at the Berkman Center, and Chris’s DPSI team has looked at norms and practices at a variety of creation and innovation spaces.
Chris speaks and appears regularly at events and on panels, addressing topics related to intellectual property and technology before audiences that have included college and law school students, librarians and archivists, computer programmers and software developers, and journalists and media lawyers. He served as point person on the Berkman Center’s collaboration with Berklee College of Music on a series of “Rethink Music” events in recent years and co-hosted the 2012 Rethink Music conference in Boston.
Prior to joining the Clinic, Chris served as Senior Director of Legal Affairs for EMI Music North America. From 1998-2002, Chris was a litigation associate at Sonnenschein Nath & Rosenthal and RubinBaum LLP (previously, Rubin Baum Levin Constant & Friedman), where he focused on copyright and trademark matters. Chris received his B.A., cum laude, from Tufts University in 1995 and his J.D. from University of Michigan Law School in 1998.
Areas of Interest
Harvard Law School‘s Cyberlaw Clinic, based at Harvard’s Berkman Center for Internet & Society, provides high-quality, pro-bono legal services to appropriate clients on issues relating to the Internet, new technology, and intellectual property. Students enhance their preparation for high-tech practice and earn course credit by working on real-world litigation, client counseling, advocacy, and transactional / licensing projects and cases. The Clinic strives to help clients achieve success in their activities online, mindful of (and in response to) existing law. The Clinic also works with clients to shape the law’s development through policy and advocacy efforts. The Cyberlaw Clinic was the first of its kind, and it continues its tradition of innovation in its areas of practice. The Clinic works independently, with law students supervised by experienced and licensed attorneys. In some cases, the Clinic collaborates with counsel throughout the country to take advantage of regional or substantive legal expertise.