When I left for Stanford, I really did not know what to expect. All I knew was that I would be a visiting student researcher at CodeX: The Stanford Center for Legal Informatics; I knew that I had to write a paper; and I knew that I wanted to create an app to help university students navigate IP law. However, beyond this understanding of my role, I was “flying blind”. In fact, my “vision” was not even improved after meeting with my supervisor, Dr. Roland Vogl, who said that I should not expect to be given any direction while at CodeX.
At the time, this was all very daunting. However, I would now tell anyone that if given the opportunity to go to a place like Stanford to explore, learn, meet leading experts, befriend computer scientists, and, for the lack of a better term, “live the Silicon Valley dream” all without an agenda, this is something you cannot pass up. The reason being is that the opportunity to be dropped into the center of an emerging field, surrounded by experts, and to not have to be an expert yourself is a once in a life time experience.
At this point it may be appropriate to explain what I did while at CodeX, but rather, I will describe the last day of my placement: the highlight of my trip. To put in context how highly I regard this last day, it should be noted that it was in direct competition with tours of Apple and Facebook, trips to San Francisco and Yosemite, cooking with a Michelin Star Chef, and watching baseball, hockey, and football games for the title of being the highlight of my placement.
So why was Friday, November 17 so special? The day started with presentations from CodeX Fellows and other legal tech researchers in front of a team of venture capitalists (“VCs”). The purpose of this meeting was to give the VCs a sense of the future legal tech market. These presentations discussed the creation of smart contracts, the automation of legal citation, and artificial intelligence policy proposals.
After these presentations, we transitioned into a planning meeting for the CodeX FutureLaw Conference. During this portion of the day, I had the opportunity to listen to the leaders of legal tech suggest panel discussion topics based off of the questions they had pertaining to the future of legal tech. In other words, I learned what the experts themselves didn’t know.
Following the planning session, we reconvened with the VCs and heard pitches from current legal tech startups. For example, these startups were working on negotiation tools, blockchain decentralization, and smart contract prosecution. After each presentation, the VCs peppered the presenters with questions about their technology and value proposition.
At this point, you might be starting to see why this was an extraordinary day, but there is more. What made this day exceptional was that it perfectly summarized my entire experience at CodeX.
When listening to the experts of legal tech give recommendations for discussion points at FutureLaw, I was brought back to when I decided what I wanted to write my paper on and how I had to pitch it to the class. When sitting in on the discussions of legal tech research I was reminded of all the research I had performed in the areas of tech transfer and the patentability of inventions created by artificial intelligence. I was also reminded of the discussions I had with my classmates and Stanford Professors regarding these topics as well. Lastly, during the pitch sessions, I saw what I was working towards and gained insights into how to sell a product. Furthermore, and possibly most importantly, I witnessed the passion and dedication required to become a successful entrepreneur. The way each presenter talked about their business made it obvious that they absolutely loved and breathed their technology. Furthermore, the way they handled questions was inspiring and an amazing example of what advocacy should look like.
I hope this brief discussion of my time at CodeX has exemplified the amazing time I had there. I was very fortunate to be given this opportunity and I therefore want to conclude by thanking IP Osgoode for making this opportunity a dream come true. I have no doubt that my role as a legal tech entrepreneur has only begun to bud, and I am therefore ecstatic to see where these connections, knowledge, and newly formed passions will take me next.
Denver Bandstra is a JD Candidate at Osgoode Hall Law School and was enrolled in Osgoode’s Intellectual Property Law and Technology Intensive Program. As part of the program requirements, students were asked to write a reflective blog on their internship experience.