Dr Bernd Justin Jütte
Assistant Professor in Intellectual Property Law
In my Innovation Academy Fellowship I set out to explore whether and how an understanding of the policy interests that underlie a legislative project improve the ability to interpret and apply a set of laws. In particular, I wanted to create an undergraduate module that examines law not from the perspective of a lawyer, but through the lens of policy makers.
To understand the substance of a law, understanding its genesis can be crucial. Being aware of the influences that shape a particular piece of legislation, I assumed, would broaden the range of sources my students consult in their work on statutory law and widen their perspective. Especially in a fast-moving field such as law and technology, which is influenced by a multitude of stakeholders, I believe an understanding of law and technology policy is an essential skill for lawyers.
I attempted to eliminate as much ‘law’ as possible from the module and integrate experts from industry and civil society into the curriculum. These include legal counsel from leading technology companies, representatives from civil society, but also academics from other European institutions.
An iterative approach to researching policy positions will ensure that students will get in touch with (as part of the module) the finished product, i.e. the law as it has been adopted, at a relatively late stage of the module, ensuring that they approach policy positions in an unbiased way. The process itself that leads to the adoption of a law, in this context, is of secondary importance; what is more important is the interplay of normative preferences in the political discourse that leads to the adoption of a law.
“I designed a module for a legal curriculum in which the substance of the law is of secondary importance.”
For the purposes of the module, law merely serves to trace the evolution of competing interests in the process that leads to its adoption. Students will be exposed to policy actors from at least three different camps and research their position in relation to a specific piece of legislation, or even a specific norm.
With the different perspectives, students will develop a pathology of law/norm and examine how far the law reflects the position of the different interest groups and what that could mean for its interpretation and application.
The module, titled “Digital Policy”, will launch in 2022 with 30 students.
Dr Bernd Justin Jütte was one of 11 Convene Innovation Fellows to participate in the inaugural Convene Fellowship in 2021 at UCD Innovation Academy. Convene is a collaboration between UCD Innovation Academy and TU Dublin funded under Human Capital Initiative Pillar III. HCI seeks, among other aims, to promote innovative methods of teaching and delivery.