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Newton: NDLS meets legal market challenges with specialized programs

November 1, 2017

dean-newton-notre-dameFirst-time visitors to Notre Dame Law School are often struck by its setting in the heart of a beautiful university campus. NDLS students fully participate in the wider university life – whether it be football weekends, a Shakespeare play, or a concert. Fortunately, in an era of increasing specialization in the legal marketplace, the law school is poised to benefit from the greater university’s academic resources.

Real Estate Law

The law school’s participation in the newly launched Notre Dame Real Estate Institute offers a good example. The institute will work on real estate issues across disciplinary lines with the School of Architecture, the Mendoza College of Business, the College of Engineering, and other academic units at the university. NDLS professor Dan Kelly, a scholar of property law and law and economics, is leading this effort. The institute has the potential to become a preeminent center for the interdisciplinary study of real estate, coordinating research and scholarship, multidisciplinary conferences and workshops, and undergraduate, professional, and executive education.

The law school brings experience and expertise to this interdisciplinary effort. Our existing programs are solid, even innovative. Law school scholars research and write on law and economics, urban planning, and the environment. Courses cover the traditional 1L property class as well as real estate transactions, commercial real estate finance, and land-use planning. NDLS students who participate in our Economic Justice Clinic represent clients in mortgage foreclosure cases and land-contract cases. Others advise and represent clients on the leasing, purchase, and sale of real property as part of our Community Development Clinic.

Thomas Patrick Dore Jr., the former head of the real estate group at Davis Polk & Wardwell in New York, has joined us to teach advanced real estate courses under the auspices of the institute. The law school has also created a real estate law program for students interested in this field.

We are excited about the institute’s future and look forward to growing with it.

IP and Technology Law

Our Intellectual Property and Techno-logy Law Program is another example of cross-fertilization and collaboration.

On the one hand, the law school has been steadily growing its IP program over the past decade. It has established an intensive three-week Summer IP and Technology Law Program in London and a specialized Intellectual Property and Entrepreneurship Clinic in South Bend. It is adding new courses and reaching far outside South Bend to connect with specialized IP and technology law experts around the country via the latest distance-learning technology. As The Indiana Lawyer previously reported, one result of these efforts is that our course on Legal Technology and Informatics is regularly supplemented by guest speakers from such businesses as LegalZoom and Google.

On the other hand, Notre Dame is enhan-cing its innovation and entrepreneurship programs. Last December it named Bryan K. Ritchie vice president and associate provost for innovation to coordinate these efforts. These include the ESTEEM Program, an 11-month graduate program in technology and entrepreneurship; the IDEA Center, the university’s collaborative innovation hub devoted to bringing faculty, staff, and student ideas to market; and a new initiative based in Palo Alto, California.

The Law School is building on these initiatives. We are now seeking a director for a new innovation clinic serving early-stage startups in the Bay Area, and our existing South Bend IP clinic is matching our students with the inventors and entrepreneurs affiliated with the university’s IDEA Center. Recently, James Farrington, a partner at Wiggin and Dana in Connecticut, relocated to South Bend upon his retirement and is teaching licensing transactions at the law school and IP and business law at the ESTEEM program. 

Although there is more to be done, the university’s commitment to interdisciplin-ary cooperation has made building our real estate and IP programs more efficient, more effective, and frankly, more fun.

• Nell Jessup Newton is the Joseph A. Matson Dean and Professor of Law at Notre Dame Law School. She has served as dean since 2009. The opinions expressed are those of the author.

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