Professors Beth Noveck, David Johnson
This course seeks to train a new generation of lawyer, one that commands software code and legal code. The lawyer in the digital age must be able to conceive of the solutions to complex problems, not only in traditional legal terms, but also with an understanding of how information and communication work. Put another way, the new jurist has to translate the values of law and social justice into the world of media, technology and communication. Set against the backdrop of large-scale investment in new information and communications technology in the public sector and in the legal system, this course offers a hands-on approach to the emerging law and practice of e-government and e-democracy. It is premised on the belief that -government and e-democracy is not the domain of technologists alone. Rather, because these technologies imply profound choices of law and policy and shape the nature of social order, lawyers must be involved in their design. The design of ICTs requires conscious choices about how we want our political and legal institutions of the future to work. The new generation of lawyers must be able to talk to the engineers if we are to solve today’s complex legal problems.
This is a full-year course taught two days per week. On Day 1, we will study the law of e-government and e-democracy, focusing on: information access and privacy law, public and private sector databases, national ID cards, citizen participation laws, laws and rules relating to electronic filing and a wide variety of legal rules and new technologies relating to the introduction of technology into government, legislatures, courts, campaigns, social action and law practice. On Day 2, we will work in teams on the design of civic technology projects for real world clients. Projects include the design of a new tool and the legal framework in which to implement it as well as a business strategy. We will work on the intellectual property protection and licensing of our projects and any necessary business agreements, including software development contracts, joint venture agreements and financing documents.
Teams will compete with each other under the supervision of an attorney and technology mentor.