Who are you gonna be in the future? This is a question which everyone hears at least once in their life. Sooner or later, everyone finds their particular niche in life. The only difference might be that someone has known it since childhood, while others may have to figure it out later. But the result is always the same – we will find our calling in life.

For six years I have been studying law. Like everybody else, I spent long nights (before deadlines, though, they seemed to be really short) studying different areas of legal studies, but sometimes the main question for me was if I could find myself in a particular field of legal practice. At my 4th year at the University, I started working. As it usually happens, it was so exciting that I even declined previously existed ideas of studying abroad. One more reason why at first I rejected to study IT law was a terrible prejudice that lawyers can’t work with technologies, and, even if someone can, they should first have some knowledge of software engineering. It seemed to me that, if I am not more aware of information technology than the average person, I have nothing to do in this area.

Even after I abandoned this idea, every now and then I continued thinking about information technologies and its relationship with the legal sphere. At Ukrainian University I decided to register for optional courses that were related to intellectual property and information law. I deliberately began to choose topics for paper works that are directly or indirectly connected to modern technologies, in order to understand if I like and could possibly work with information technology law. The more deeply I looked into this area, the more I realized that a connection between the legal world and the world of algorithms exists. So, IT Law studies at the University of Tartu became an inevitable phase of my professional life.

The Tech Startup Legal Clinic

The Tech Startup Legal Clinic at the University of Tartu is meant for IT Law Master Programme students to gain experience by applying their theoretical knowledge to practice in real-life cases of tech start-ups. In the period from February till April, students have practice in the Clinic as a part of their curriculum. The participation in this obligatory course contributes not only to the development of practical skills but also to clients hunting abilities. Providing legal aid is absolutely free of charge because the experience gained is our reward.

Why is it cool?

First of all, practice in the Tech Startup Legal Clinic exists in an unusual form. The format of this practice is very different from conventional practices, wherein you are assigned to an established enterprise or public agency and try to balance between not being bored to death and not being annoying. Here you are not limited by routine procedures, and you only stick to a small set of practice rules and criteria. In turn, you have to rely on yourself and your team only. The educational institution doesn’t provide students with clients, and future lawyers and legal advisers have to look for clients on their own. During this practice, students are solving concrete legal matters of real companies, entrepreneurs, or NGOs. I believe that such a practice format is very contemporary, as, nowadays, the labor market demands more independent and creative employees. In addition, practicing at the Tech Startup Legal Clinic teaches us that responsibility goes hand in hand with freedom.

A second distinctive characteristic of the Tech Startup Legal Clinic is that it provides students with the opportunity to perform an important social function and help talented startup entrepreneurs to develop their revolutionary projects. Also, they could contribute with their legal advice to an important social platform that creates public goods. Finally, such a practice is a worthwhile networking opportunity. It helps students to find future employers, partners, and good friends. In our fast-changing and global world, it is strongly important to have a wide circle of friends and colleagues.

Such a practice format can be applied in many areas and I am glad that the University of Tartu uses it in such a conservative sphere like legal studies to expand our knowledge and practical skills.