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IP Pedagogy

Over at Conglomerate, Shubha Ghosh is posting on what he calls IP 3.0, or the turn toward transactional analysis and teaching in intellectual property law. Shubha is right that teaching and studying IP in a transactional context is one of the great unexplored frontiers of IP.  Back in 2002, I taught a course that closely mirrors Shubha’s template: finding the money, people, and other resources to develop IP assets; exploiting IP assets; and figuring out what to do with IP assets at the end of the firm’s life cycle.  I assembled my own materials, since I could find no relevant casebooks.  I couldn’t even find any similar courses.

Reading his post, I was struck by a conceptual connection to a seemingly different question that passed through the blogosphere recently: Who should teach writing to law students? Is the subject matter so iimportant that it should be in the hands of full-time professional legal writing faculty, or can it be handled by fellow law students, at least without damage to the school’s overall reputation and quality? Jim Chen captured the debate here. Rick Garnett at Prawfsblawg challenged some wisdom, which might or might not be conventional.

The connection: It is very difficult to participate thoughtfully in a conversation about non-traditional law school pedagogy (teaching transactional IP, teaching legal writing) until you have engaged in non-traditional law school pedagogy. I do not know the right or best answers in either case, but having taught transactional IP, and having for many years taught legal writing as part and parcel of my “substantive” law teaching, I think very differently about both domains than I would have thought about either one in the abstract.  “Transactional IP” is much more about the transactions, and much less about IP, than I anticipated.  If a law professor is accustomed to teaching to a single, semester-end exam, then perhaps the hardest thing about teaching legal writing is that you have to go back to an anxious classroom after returning papers that include some low grades.

That’s not an argument that anyone should keep their opinions to themselves. But before committing too strongly to a critique or an endorsement of who should teach, or what they should teach, take a walk on that wild side. You’ll learn some things that are quite unexpected.