With law often playing catch up to ever-changing technology, the study of how law interacts with science and technology is more critical now than ever before. The school’s offerings related to science and technology are grouped into four, often-overlapping clusters: Intellectual Property Law, Health Law, Internet Law, and Technology & Civil Liberties. A student might wish to explore the field broadly by taking courses from a number of these fields. Alternatively, a student might concentrate deeply on a particular area through classes, seminars, clinic, and experiences beyond the classroom.
The Law, Science, and Technology Program of Study seeks to guide students on how to best take advantage of Harvard’s unparalleled resources in this field, and to build a community of students and professors interested in the intersections between law and technology. The Program sponsors substantive talks and study groups, organizes events for faculty and student fellows to answer questions about career options, provides guidance regarding the wealth of opportunities in this space at Harvard, and hosts social events for students and faculty affiliated with the Program.
For the latest academic year offerings in Law, Science, and Technology, please visit the HLS Course Catalog.
Intellectual Property Law
Intellectual Property is the body of law that governs rights to ideas and information. Basic courses in the field include Copyright, and Patents. Students interested in litigation in this field should consider taking Copyright and Trademark Litigation, and the Patent Litigation Workshop. Other courses in the field include Trademark and Unfair Competition, Entertainment and Media Law, and Music and Digital Media. Legal practice in these fields increasingly requires knowledge of the laws of other countries and of the network of multilateral treaties that limit each country’s discretion is framing its own laws. To obtain that knowledge, students are strongly encouraged to take International Intellectual Property, as well as courses in International and Comparative Law including Public International Law and International Trade.
Health Law, Biotechnology, and Bioethics
The second cluster consists of courses pertaining to Health Law, Biotechnology, and Bioethics. An introduction to the field is offered in Health Care Law.
Students interested in more advanced work can choose from a variety of upper-level classes including Drug Product Liability Litigation, the Food Law and Policy Seminar, Food and Drug Law, Global Effects of EU Law, the Food Law seminar, the Innovation in Medical Technologies: Law and Policy seminar, and the Public Health Law and Policy seminar. In addition, the year-long Health Law, Policy, Bioethics and Biotechnology Workshop represents an ideal capstone experience for students interested in the field, as it features presentations of major scholars’ works-in-progress in health law and policy, bioethics, and biotechnology. Students are also encouraged to consider the Health Law and Policy Clinic of the Center for Health Law and Policy Innovation and the Food Law Policy Clinic of the Center for Health Law and Policy Innovation (focusing on policy rather than offering direct legal services), each of which allows students to transfer the skills and ideas they learn in the classroom to the real world. Patents is also recommended for students seeking to specialize in biotechnology and pharmaceutical innovation.
Beyond the classroom, students interested in Health Law are also encouraged to attend the various lectures organized by the Petrie-Flom Center for Health Law Policy, Biotechnology, and Bioethics. Students with an academic interest in health law should also consider applying to be student fellows at the Petrie-Flom Center, which provides law students and graduate students elsewhere in the university intensive mentoring and funding to produce works of scholarship. Finally, students interested in health law should consider the JD/MPH joint degree program with the Harvard School of Public Health.
The third cluster consists of courses examining different aspects of Internet Law. The course offerings in this area include: City Use of Technology, Counseling and Legal Strategy in the Digital Age, Communications and Internet Law and Policy, and Technology and Inequality. Students interested in digital media may also wish to consider offerings such as Digital Storytelling and the Law, Music and Digital Media, and The Two-Way Mirror: Media Imaging in the 21st Century. In addition, clinical placements in the field are available at the Berkman Center for Internet and Society through the Cyberlaw Clinic.
The Berkman Center also affords a wide variety of opportunities to participate in research projects pertaining to internet and society as a research assistant. In addition, Berkman offers weekly events which students are encouraged to attend to get to know the community and learn about cutting-edge research in the field.
Technology and Civil Liberties
Changing technologies raise novel questions about how to safeguard civil liberties, particularly privacy and freedom of expression. Courses in this field include Digital Privacy, Comparative Online Privacy, and Frontiers of Cyberlaw: Artificial Intelligence, Automation and Information Security. To gain expertise on technology and civil liberties, student are encouraged to take courses on constitutional law, including First Amendment, Criminal Procedure, and Civil Rights Litigation. Courses in national security law, such as the seminar Privacy, Technology, and National Security, may also be of interest.
Regardless of whether a student concentrates in one of these areas of the law or develops a program by combining course work in the four fields, she should strongly consider wrapping up her sequence of courses with an extended research project of her own, typically culminating with original scholarship. All of the faculty listed above are available to supervise such projects. Students should also consider contacting the Law, Science, and Technology Program of Study student fellows to discuss research topics.
Students who wish to pursue academic careers in this area should think about combining the course work discussed above with opportunities for significant research and writing.