June 7, 2012
ATLANTA - DNA sequencing and testing, nanotechnology-based medical therapies, autonomous vehicles, renewable energies, and asteroid mining were just some of the areas of technological development covered in the Law & Emerging Technologies seminar, which was offered at Georgia State University College of Law for the first time during the Spring 2012 semester and taught by Professor Yaniv Heled.
Despite providing a fascinating context for the class, it was not the cutting-edge technologies themselves that were the true focus of the seminar. Rather it was the disruption such technologies bring with them and their effect on the law and legal practice.
"This challenging course required students to embrace abstract ideas in emerging technologies, and then draw the legal connections to issues presented by such developments," said Lee Morin, 3L, who took the course.
Yuri Eliezer, 3L, added, "Professor Heled ingeniously combined philosophy, technology, and his impressive network to not only reach the thinking minds of the new generation, but to give those minds new perspectives on topics they will likely be pioneering as lawyers."
"The purpose of the seminar is to provide students with an understanding of ways in which new technology changes and shapes the legal profession and with the skills useful in dealing with these changes in their future practice," said Heled. "Introducing the students to novel technologies is fun, but the real benefit for the students from this course is the development of the ability to hit the ground running when encountering new technologies in their practice."
And hitting the ground running was just what the students were required to do: encountering a new, unknown, and wholly different type of technology almost every week and submitting written comments on legal aspects of these technologies. In addition, students were required to write a final paper analyzing legal questions raised by a novel technology.
Students benefitted from an impressive list of speakers from different settings and specializing in different technologies. The seminar hosted Louis Sorell, a patent counsel at Google, Inc.; Dr. Merrick Furst, the Founder and Director of Georgia Tech’s startup accelerator program, Flashpoint; Scott Marty, JD ’04, an attorney at Ballard Spahr LLP representing the University of Utah in Ass’n for Molecular Pathology v. USPTO (commonly known as the Myriad case); Professor Christopher Holman from the University of Missouri - Kansas City who spoke with the students about gene patenting; Dr. John Bradford of SpaceWorks Enterprises, Inc., a space technology company; and Dr. Mark Allen from the Institute for Electronics and Nanotechnology at Georgia Tech, who spoke with the students about technology transfer and nanotechnology.
"Guest speakers were carefully selected to give us different perspectives on emerging technology, business, and law," said Maki DePalo, another 3L who participated in this course.
"Technologies come and go," observed Heled. "The ability to address them thoughtfully, reflect on their legal implications, and in some cases even incorporate them into legal practice is vital today, and hopefully these skills will stay with the students throughout their years in practice."
"Through this course, Professor Heled helped us open up our eyes to different possibilities, opportunities, and challenges by exploring how emerging technology changes our lives," said DePalo. "This course should be taken by not only law students, but all students who have interest in how technology will impact their lives in this coming century," confirmed Eliezer. "I truly found this course fascinating."
Stacie P. Kershner, JD
Associate Director, Center for Law, Health & Society