A.G. Schneiderman & NYC Corporation Counsel Carter Join Forces With Premier Law School Clinics Aiding Tech Entrepreneurs

Collaborations Aimed At Encouraging Tech Start-Ups In New York; Fostering Communication That Helps New Sector Players Navigate Complex Regulatory Systems And Offering Policy Makers Insight Into Important, Growing Sector

Schneiderman: We Want Our Newest Entrepreneurs To Have A Clear Shot At Success And Follow Our Laws

NEW YORK –Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman and New York City Corporation Counsel Zachery Carter announced today that they have joined forces with two premier technology clinics, the Brooklyn Law Incubator & Policy (BLIP) Clinic, operated out of The Brooklyn Law School, and the Tech Startup Clinic, operated out of The Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law of Yeshiva University as well as Fordham University School of Law’s Center on Law and Information Policy (CLIP). The collaboration aims to provide a regular venue for interaction between government and technology start-ups, which often have trouble navigating the complex legal and regulatory regimes in New York City and State. This collaborative effort is further intended to offer government regulatory and enforcement agencies and academia insights into trends and needs in this rapidly-growing sector of New York’s economy.

“New technology companies bring with them extraordinary economic and social benefits to many New York communities– and we want to encourage that,” Attorney General Schneiderman said. “By collaborating with these three premier programs and providing guidance on how to navigate rules and regulations that protect the public, we can help tech entrepreneurs put down roots in New York more easily. This collaboration will allow tech startups a way to engage government and enable those of us in government to understand how emerging technologies may pose challenges to our regulatory structures.”

“The City of New York is committed to partnering with the small business community to make it easier for small businesses to interact with the City and to navigate regulatory requirements,” said Corporation Counsel Carter. “Working with the Attorney General’s Office and these two or three law clinics will allow the Office of the Corporation Counsel and the City’s Department of Small Business Services to identify and understand emerging issues and the needs of the technology start-up community to improve the climate for small businesses consistent with the City’s Small Business First initiative.”

"Information technology in the 21st century continues to create amazing new opportunities. By opening direct lines of communication between citizens and their governments, it is spurring civic engagement, reinvigorating democracy and connecting communities around the world," said Andrew Rasiej, founder of Civic Hall. "By establishing these collaborations, we will help ensure that New York is a model of innovation – and that all of our citizens and businesses benefit."

The collaboration to help tech start-ups in New York City is in line with New York City’s Small Business First initiative. In February, the Mayor announced the 30 recommendations of Small Business First, a comprehensive plan to streamline the City’s requirements for small business owners, and make resources and materials more accessible in order to reduce the regulatory burden and increase compliance in all five boroughs. Additional business services are also available to help all small businesses in New York City start, operate, and grow through seven NYC Business Solutions located in all five boroughs. Free services include helping connect small businesses with capital, business courses, recruitment, pro-bono legal assistance, help navigating government, and more. For more information on free business services, visit www.nyc.gov/nycbusiness or call 311.

Over the past decade, New York City has been the fastest-growing center for technology in the country. Currently, it is the second largest technology hub in the United States. In 2013, $2.6 billion was invested in New York technology start-ups, and that financing is growing at a rate of 13% a year. Often, these entrepreneurial endeavors do not have legal services available to them to assure they follow applicable laws and regulations. The New York Attorney General’s Office is committing resources to the clinics to help make it easier for tech entrepreneurs to understand our laws and how various city and state agencies work.

"A big part of our work at Engine involves facilitating better communication between policy makers and the startup community - and that's exactly what the Attorney General's new c will do here in New York," said Julie Samuels, Executive Director of Engine, a non-profit that advocates for high-tech startups and entrepreneurs. "It will not only help startups navigate complex regulations, it will also help elected leaders find creative ways to improve the regulatory environment. We thank Attorney General Schneiderman, Corporation Counsel Carter, and the Brooklyn and Cardozo law clinics for launching this great initiative, and we look forward to working with them to make New York State even more supportive of innovation."

The Brooklyn Law Incubator & Policy Clinic:

BLIP functions as a modern, technology-oriented law firm. Since 2008, it has been training law students to be lawyers who are well-versed across the spectrum of skills needed to represent emerging tech, Internet, communications, and new media companies. The clinic has helped more than 500 clients presenting diverse legal, business, and policy challenges. BLIP accepts clients who require creative legal representation and are representative of the Internet or digital economy, and for whom expensive legal services would act as a barrier to entry in their respective industries.

In support of this collaboration, the Attorney General and the Corporation Counsel offices are working with BLIP to serve the start-up tech community and establish a forum for regular communication on the issues and trends affecting the sector, particularly focusing on law and public policy. The effort includes:

  • Developing a collaborative forum where lawyers, technologists, and entrepreneurs will meet with government, policymakers, and enforcement bodies to anticipate and embrace innovative startups, while still ensuring the public good, economic viability, and a sustainable regulatory and legal environment. This will include workshops to discuss innovative ways technology can improve and inform the practice of law and public policy. The goal is to seek to balance the values of innovation, stability, and economic and social justice.
  • Developing a set of initiatives that revolve around emerging technologies and how they intersect with regulatory and social expectations. For example, BLIP is presently working with the University of Amsterdam, 3DHubs, and Legal Hackers, a global forum for policy makers and entrepreneurs, on a code of conduct for the 3D printing world, as well as several other civic tech and justice projects with MIT that are in formative stages. 

Cardozo Tech Startup Clinic:

The clinic is an innovative program that provides free legal counsel and advice to tech startups in New York City. Its mission is to train a new generation of lawyers to better serve startups and brings together entrepreneurs, lawyers, and scholars to discuss groundbreaking technologies and their impact on society. The clinic provides advice on a number of topics relevant to a start-up including entity formation, early seed funding, intellectual property, commercialization strategies, privacy policies, operational and employment issues.

In support of this collaboration, the Attorney General’s Internet Bureau and the Corporation Counsel’s Office are undertaking a collaborative effort with the clinic that serves the start-up community and establishes a forum for regular communication on the issues and trends affecting this growing sector, particularly focusing on law and public policy. The effort includes:

  • An ongoing dialogue with the Cardozo clinic on trends and issues identified by government lawyers and the clinic that relate to experiences of technology entrepreneurs and start-ups in New York’s legal and regulatory environment. While the Attorney General and the Corporation Counsel offices cannot provide legal advice to private entities, they can provide a general legal overview to assist the clinic on issues raised and provide references to other agencies and entities where appropriate. The Attorney General’s Internet Bureau is collecting data on issues and trends presented in this sector with an eye toward better oversight of regulatory issues.
  • Participation in Cardozo-led workshops comprised of the Attorney General and Corporation Counsel offices, law professors and members of the tech community (potentially including venture capital firms, tech startup companies, and private attorneys). Workshops will focus on a particular topic of interest to the New York tech community that intersects with state and local regulatory issues. Some examples may include the Internet of Things (IoT) (the network of physical objects or “things” embedded with electronics, software, sensors and connectivity that allow these “things” to exchange data with the manufacturer, operator and/or other connected devices), cryptocurrency (virtual currency like Bitcoin), and data security. Workshop participants will have an opportunity to discuss these issues in a neutral format intended for engagement between government and industry. 

Fordham University School of Law’s Center on Law and Information Policy (CLIP)

CLIP, founded in 2005, addresses issues surrounding information technology, law and policy, and is at the cutting edge of scholarship and legal education in the emerging field of information law. CLIP supports and conducts research, organizes workshops and conferences, and hosts and facilitates high-level public discourse on topics such as data privacy and security, peer-to-peer technologies and intellectual property protection.

In support of this collaboration, the Attorney General’s Internet Bureau and the Corporation Counsel’s Office will engage in active participation with CLIP events, including:

  • Participation in CLIP’s monthly Roundtable Events, which bring together New York area academics, lawyers and industry experts to discuss current events in the Intellectual Property and Information Technology field.
  • Engagement with CLIP and Fordham Law faculty in pursuit of solutions to identified trends and issues in the technology sector.

Program Participants:

The NYAG will commit resources from the Internet Bureau to this collaboration; with four attorneys whose experiences range from patent law to privacy and enforcement issues, as well as a technologist with a strong background in data protection, the bureau is well-positioned to collaborate with all three schools. Joshua Meltzer, the deputy chief of staff, at the NYAG will also assist on the project.
The BLIP Clinic founder and director is Jonathan Askin. The Cardozo Clinic director is Aaron Wright. The CLIP Founding Academic Director is Joel R. Reidenberg and the Executive Director is N. Cameron Russell.

AG’s office participants include Joshua Meltzer, Kathleen McGee, Clark Russell, Jordan Adler, Aaron Chase and Marc Kowtko.

The Corporation Counsel’s office participants include Steve Stein Cushman and Howard Friedman and the Department of Small Business Services’ participants include Adira Siman, Gregg Bishop, and Antonia Pereira.

A full copy of Attorney General Schneiderman’s remarks can be read here.