2 UC Berkeley professors donate $1M to create first chair for tech clinic

photo of Berkeley Law School
Andrew Huang/Staff
The Robert Glushko Clinical Professor of Practice in Technology Law is the first chair created for a campus clinical professor in support of the "tech law movement."

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About 20 years ago, UC Berkeley School of Law professor Pamela Samuelson and campus adjunct professor Robert Glushko donated $2 million to create the Samuelson Law, Technology & Public Policy Clinic when there was no “public interest in technology law.”

Now, topics such as privacy and data access have become critical issues, and there are currently about 50 clinics tackling similar issues at law schools, according to Glushko, who teaches in campus’s cognitive science department.

Samuelson, a Richard M. Sherman distinguished professor of law, and Glushko recently made another endowment to Berkeley Law: a $1 million gift to create a clinical chair for the Samuelson Clinic. The Robert Glushko Clinical Professor of Practice in Technology Law will be the first chair created for a campus clinical professor, Glushko added.

“The gift will provide some financial support for the Samuelson Clinic’s work but the more important thing it will do is affirm the high regard in which the clinic faculty director is held,” Samuelson said in an email.

Samuelson also noted that the chair was created in honor of Glushko’s support of the “tech law movement,” as well as in honor of the accomplishments of the clinic’s faculty and students.

Some of the clinic’s accomplishments have reached the U.S. Supreme Court. According to Samuelson, the clinic was created because many law students wanted to immerse themselves in technology and intellectual property issues when new bills were being proposed in Congress.

This year, Samuelson added that the clinic filed briefs in two major cases before the Supreme Court, and the cases were decided in line with the clinic’s recommendation.

Erik Stallman, associate director of the Samuelson Clinic, said he was “thrilled beyond words” to hear about the gift. Stallman views the gift as another milestone in Samuelson and Glushko’s devotion to technology law clinics.

“If you look on everything from issues related to intellectual property, to privacy, to government surveillance, to security of voting systems,” Stallman said. “There’s just a lot of essential work that needs to be done that wouldn’t be getting done without the work of the clinics and the work of people like Pam and Bob.”

Stallman also noted that the chair is important because clinical chairs could help law students address “unmet” needs at technology law clinics. The chair will “effectively and ethically” represent public interest in technology, law and policy, he added.

Stallman looks forward to the endowment helping people acknowledge how the Samuelson Clinic and other technology law clinics address public service issues and mentor students to continue this work.

“This is the first chair for a tech law clinic in the US,” Samuelson said in the email. “If our gift Spurs others to create chairs for outstanding clinicians, I would be pleased by that.”

Contact Rina Rossi at [email protected], and follow her on Twitter at @RinaRossi8.