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IP and Technology Forum Steps Up Its Game

The student group and journal known as the IPTF hums with new energy.

Photograph by Vicki Sanders

Armen Grigorian ’22 jumped at the chance for what is a rare opportunity for law students: to become a published writer in his first year. Newly appointed as a staff writer for the Boston College Law School Intellectual Property and Technology Forum, he decided to write about the intersection of medical privacy and universities’ collection of student athletes’ performance data.

Grigorian’s launch as a journal writer was due, in large part, to several changes over the past year in the forum’s operations. With the help of the E-Board and new faculty advisor David Olson, Editor-in-Chief Sarah Murphy ’20 spent much of her last year at BC Law expanding the reach of the publication. An early, notable result was the increase in applications for staff writer last fall; fifty students sought a spot.

Also under her watch, the Intellectual Property and Technology Forum returned to publishing outside authors, after a hiatus of several years. By introducing works by law professors and other scholars, Murphy hoped to reinforce the journal’s foundation “as a medium for cutting-edge scholarship concerning technology and intellectual property law.”

In the meantime, the E-Board worked with Professor Olson to reintroduce itself to Boston’s intellectual property community by organizing the first ever IPTF Symposium, an event designed to bring student writers and IP lawyers together to discuss legal scholarship. (Unfortunately, it was a victim of the Covid-19 shutdown this spring.) The group nevertheless co-sponsored other relevant events before the pandemic, such as February’s talk, “Are the Orphan Drug Act, FDA Regulations, and Patent Law Being Being Abused to Keep Drug Prices High?”

As for what the new opportunities at the journal have meant to students, Grigorian’s experience writing his article is telling. “I was not familiar at all with privacy rules, and the NCAA, or any sort of medical data privacy regulations” he said, “but the intersection between the two seemed fascinating, and I knew I wanted to learn more.”

He soon discovered that legal research and writing is quite different from conventional research and writing, and was grateful for his editors’ help in mastering new skills. “The experience of taking news, current events, sports, and the law, and blending them together into an article was such a positive experience and has taught me skills I feel I can definitely apply throughout my law school career,” he said.

The experience has paid off in other ways, too: Grigorian’s article was a popular topic of discussion in summer internship interviews. In large part because of the skills that he displayed in writing his article, Grigorian will be interning at semester’s end with a federal judge in the US District Court for the District of Massachusetts in Boston.

Editor-in-Chief Murphy feels similarly about the value of working on the Intellectual Property and Technology Forum. “Being a member of the IPTF journal has been one of the most rewarding experiences of my law school career,” she says. “Having the opportunity to work closely with members of the staff and my fellow E-Board members has helped me grow personally, as a writer, and as a future lawyer.”

Despite the disruptions to the group’s activities caused by the pandemic, the IPTF E-Board kept its schedule to publish twelve new writers this spring, and recently announced the new crop of editors and E-Board members for the 2020-2021 school year.

The journal was, from its founding in 1996 until 1999, a subsidiary of the former Intellectual Property Group (IPG). In April, 1999, the IPG was formally dissolved and merged into the IPTF, which became an official BCLS student organization. Boston College Law School is ranked among US News and World Report Intellectual Property Law Specialties.

Photo: IPTF co-sponsored a February discussion on drug pricing that featured Amitabh Chandra of Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government (foreground, left) and was moderated by BC Law Professor David Olson (right).  Students Connor Romm ’21,  next year’s Editor-in Chief (background, left), and Mark Grayson ’21, who’s involved in the IPTF club, helped set up the event.