Scalia Spotlights

Scalia Law’s New Innovation Clinic Leads in Entrepreneurship

Innovation Clinic team at work
Third-year law students (left to right) Kaylen Hansen, Aris Hart, Samantha Levin, and Innovation Law Clinic professor Sean O’Connor discuss intellectual property law and strategic business plans for their client in the fashion industry. Photo by: Ron Aira/Creative Services

Scalia Law recently launched the Innovation Law Clinic to support the emerging tech sector in the DMV (DC, MD, NOVA). The Washington Post has predicted that the Dulles corridor, where Scalia Law School is located, will compete with Silicon Valley in the not-so-distant future. Sean O’Connor, a distinguished innovation scholar and Executive Director of Scalia Law’s Center for the Protection of Intellectual Property (CPIP), leads the clinic. “Amazon’s move to Northern Virginia, just minutes from our law school, confirms this region’s attractiveness to the tech sector,” said Professor O'Connor.

The Innovation Clinic provides teams of students the opportunity to counsel entrepreneurs, creators, and inventors from the university’s internal and external communities. The clinic teaches entrepreneurship and commercializing innovation and creativity, as well as how to craft an overall legal strategy to match a client’s vision.

The Clinic also fits into the University’s innovation agenda. “We are delighted that the Innovation Law Clinic will ultimately be co-located with researchers and entrepreneurs in the proposed Institute for Digital InnovAtion (IDIA) and computer science building on the Arlington Campus,” said Professor O’Connor. “Together, we will provide a hub for the fast-growing Arlington Innovation District.”

Students in the Innovation Law Clinic learn from local practitioners, venture capitalists, entrepreneurs, and faculty from Scalia Law. In the near future, students and faculty from other academic units across George Mason University will be able to join the Clinic as well. Under Professor O’Connor’s supervision, as well as the supervision of other local attorneys, students analyze their clients’ technology, creative innovation, business plan, and legal documents to produce a confidential "Innovator's Roadmap" tailored to the client's vision and needs.

“The Innovation Clinic, and related initiatives, will make Scalia Law the premier law school in the DMV for students interested in innovation and entrepreneurship,” said Scalia Law Dean Henry N. Butler. “We are preparing a generation of lawyers, entrepreneurs, and innovation experts for the country’s next great tech sector.”

About Sean O’Connor

Before joining Scalia Law School, Sean O’Connor was Boeing International Professor of Law at the University of Washington School of Law in Seattle. His research focuses on intellectual property and business law with regard to start-ups and commercializing technology and arts innovation. Professor O’Connor received his law degree from Stanford Law School and a master’s degree in philosophy from Arizona State University. He is currently completing a book, The Means of Innovation: Creation, Control, Method+ology, and serving as Editor for a new Handbook of Music Law & Policy, both to be published by Oxford University Press. He brings years of experience practicing at multinational firms and serving as general counsel to several startups and nonprofits.

How to Apply to the Innovation Law Clinic

Interested students should apply for one of three tracks (business law; IP; or tax) after completing the prerequisite to the introductory course for that specialty. Preference will be given to students who have taken more than one course in their selected specialty area.