University Legal Counsel As an EdTech Resource

When have you worked with your university lawyer? 

April 9, 2013

When have you worked with your university lawyer? 

How often are the attorneys in the General Counsel office included in strategic discussions that involve technology, teaching and learning?

The other day I had the opportunity to visit my institution's General Counsel at his office to discuss some questions around the digital distribution of course materials.  The discussion helped me understand the issues around how the rights holders and the publishers think about copyright and digital distribution.  

Over the years I've had many discussions with publishers, and certainly have done lots of reading and listened to numerous presentations and workshops on copyright, but 30 minutes with my General Counsel shifted how I understand these issues.

In the future I am going to endeavor to seek out advice from our General Counsel's office at the early stages of any planning that I'm involved on for projects that involve curriculum and online or mobile platforms.   

One key takeaway from my meeting with the General Counsel is that he was happy to make the time to talk with me.  He said "this is what we are here for".   The idea that the General Counsel is available to talk about plans and ideas as they are being developed never really occurred to me.  

I think I had thought about the university lawyer as the person you go to if things go wrong, or if you need sign-off on a policy.  Not someone that you go to talk about options, ideas, and trade-offs.

Perhaps I had also believed that the General Counsel would see such requests as burdensome.  They are incredibly busy folks, doing more important things than what edtech people think about.  Right?  Well, at least at my institution this seems only half-true.  They are incredibly busy, but they are also happy to consult.

Has this been your experience with your university legal folks?   

Have you had opportunities to collaborate with the lawyers that work for your institution around efforts to innovate around learning and technology?

If you work in the General Counsel's office what advice would you give the educational technology people on your campus?

How can we learn more about the role and responsibilities of university lawyers so that we can better collaborate with you on edtech projects where your expertise and experience would be relevant?


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