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No. 12 ranked DePaul intellectual property law program continues innovation in legal education

DePaul University College of Law’s intellectual property law program is ranked No. 12 in U.S. News & World Report’s 2015 Best Law Schools guide. The program has ranked among the best in the nation for more than a decade and continues to thrive under the direction of DePaul’s respected IP faculty and the Center for Intellectual Property Law & Information Technology (CIPLIT®). 

Two new initiatives, a first-year lecture series and a mentorship program, introduced by CIPLIT in academic year 2013-2014, build on the strength of DePaul’s IP program and support a tradition of student-focused programming.

The six-week lecture series, “An Introduction to IP Theory and Practice,” is designed to acquaint first-year law students interested in IP law with substantive content and elements of practice. Both full-time faculty members and experienced IP attorneys lecture on various IP subjects, introducing students to the breadth and depth of this area of law.

“It’s really a treat to attend the IP lecture series. The speakers are experts in their respective fields, and each session is informative and engaging,” student Peggy Liu said. “Equipped with this foundational knowledge, I feel well prepared to take on the challenges of higher-level IP courses.”

Through its IP Mentorship Program, CIPLIT pairs students in the first-year IP Legal Writing section with a faculty mentor and an attorney mentor, creating a personalized mentorship experience for the duration of law school. 

First-year student Philipp Ruben entered law school with an engineering background. “Law school was a major transition,” he said. “My faculty mentor provided excellent resources and advice for my course work. My attorney mentor helped define my focus within IP law and opened the door to several networking opportunities.”

The mentorship program aims to enrich DePaul’s unique first-year IP Legal Writing program, through which qualified students learn the required first-year research and writing skills curriculum in the context of intellectual property law. Together, the legal writing and mentorship programs offer students focused practical skills training as well as invaluable connections with IP faculty and the IP legal community at the beginning of law school.

“My attorney mentor has been invaluable during my first year,” said student Brittney Cato. “She has not only introduced me to attorneys working in the IP field, but has also encouraged me to go out and make connections on my own by joining bar associations and attending their lectures.”

The new initiatives fall in line with CIPLIT’s mission “to develop IP professionals of the highest caliber through an all-inclusive learning experience that combines outstanding classroom education, innovative scholarship, first-class training in lawyering skills and an unparalleled range of extracurricular activities.” Keeping this charge in sight, CIPLIT has created curricular and extracurricular programs that not only garner national recognition from legal and academic communities, but also enhance students’ career development.

“Since its inception, CIPLIT has placed dozens of students in IP jobs, in some instances right after the first year of law school,” said Professor Roberta R. Kwall, the founding and current director of CIPLIT. “Many of our early students now occupy prominent positions within their firms and organizations. We find it so gratifying that all of them got their start at DePaul, where they could learn and grow in a supportive yet academically rigorous environment.”

The supportive law school environment that Professor Kwall mentions is a contributing factor to the IP program’s success and expansion. In fact, it has acted as an incubator for many programs over the years.

One such program is the technology and intellectual property clinic that DePaul opened under the guidance of Professor Barbara Bressler in 2000. The TIP ClinicTM, as it is known, was one of the first law school clinical programs to provide transactional services exclusively in the areas of patent, trademark and copyright law to clients who cannot afford to pay private counsel for such services. Following the clinic’s mantra, Protecting the Creative Works of Creative Minds®, students assist a wide range of clients, including entrepreneurs, musicians, artists, authors and inventors.

Today, IP touches nearly every area of the legal curriculum. Students learn first-hand—through traditional classroom theory and practical skills training—from leading scholars and practitioners in areas that include patent law, copyright and trademark law, art and museum law, entertainment law, cyberlaw and more. In addition to the first-year programs and the clinic, DePaul offers four specialized certificate programs, a joint degree and an LLM degree in IP law.

With its broad and innovative coursework, student-centric programs and respected faculty, DePaul is certain to advance IP legal education for years to come.