Clinical Legal Education Structural Genomics Consortium Externship (LAW396Y1Y)

Externship Seminar

4 credits; 2.5 hours
2 credits (ungraded) per term

Max Enrol: 4 JD (limited to third year students)

Conditional enrolment - See details on how to register below.

Required: at least one of Patent Law for the Life Sciences; Copyright, Trademark, and Patent; Patent and Trade Secrets Law.

Recommended: Negotiation; Advanced Contracts.

Learning objectives:
Offered through the Centre for Innovation Law and Policy, this externship opportunity enables students to contribute to the operation of the world’s leading open-access drug discovery institution by developing cutting-edge contractual arrangements that foster its core mission of accelerating drug discovery by placing the results of its research into the public domain. In particular, the externship serves:

  • to promote reflection on the means of achieving, and the values served by promoting, open access to new knowledge that would otherwise be protected by intellectual property law;
  • to promote critical thinking about strategies for advancing knowledge through open-access arrangements, and their relation to existing modes of contracting;

  • to promote theoretical consideration of modes of IP protection and their alternatives; and
  • to expose students to the practice of substantive areas of law in the evolving field of open innovation.

Students will:

  • develop their client communication and interviewing skills,

  • develop their contract drafting skills;
  • learn to create and maintain an effective solicitor-client relationship; and
  • learn to effectively communicate and negotiate with opposing counsel on complex life sciences technology transactions.

Placement activities:
The Structural Genomics Consortium is a not-for-profit public-private partnership based at the University of Toronto and Oxford University that engages in pre-competitive basic science research to facilitate and enable the discovery of new medicines. It catalyzes research in new areas of human biology and drug discovery by focusing explicitly on less well-studied areas of the human genome, for example epigenetic signaling pathways.

The SGC accelerates research and drug discovery in these areas by making all of its research output available in the public domain with no restrictions on use and no patent protection, and by creating an open collaborative network of scientists in hundreds of universities around the world and in its nine global pharmaceutical company partners.

To facilitate its various ongoing research projects and to secure its ability to place the results of this research into the public domain to be used freely by others, the SCG is negotiating novel open innovation contracts with various parties within its collaborative ecosystem, including funding agreements with private and public sources of financing; and memorandums of understanding, collaboration agreements, and material transfer agreements with partner research organizations, disease foundations, and scientists.

Students will attend contract negotiations led by experienced intellectual property lawyers; at the direction of the field supervisors and under their supervision, prepare initial and revised drafts of memoranda of understanding, research collaboration agreements, material transfer agreements, and funding agreements that promote the SGS’s open innovation policy; and carry out legal research.

Students will also meet, in a seminar format, with Professors Stern and Niblett, to discuss readings on patent law and the developing alternatives to conventional patent protection, and with Professor Aled Edwards, who will provide instruction about the background to the SGC initiative and to the open-access movement in medical innovation more generally.

Students will meet with the supervising lawyers for about 2.5 hours per week, and with the faculty instructors for an hour every other week. Students can expect a workload of approximately 120 hours.

To Register for this Course:
Please send an email to Simon Stern at . Attach a current CV, and a one page statement of interest including the following information:

  • Why you wish to enroll in the Structural Genomics Consortium clinic program;
  • Previous courses in contract law, intellectual property, negotiations, or health law and policy, or experience that you consider equivalent.

Note: Enrollment in this clinic is conditional. The Records Office will add the clinic to the student's course selection once participation is confirmed by the clinic instructor. In the meantime, students must select sufficient credits for the term/year. Students approved for the clinic will have the opportunity to adjust their credits before the add/drop deadline.

Satisfactory completion of the externship, including the submission of the required assignments, evaluations and logs, earns four ungraded credits (two per term). The faculty supervisor assesses, in consultation with the field supervisor, whether the requirements for earning credit have been met.