The BU/MIT Student Innovations Law Clinic (SILC) is a free and confidential legal service for students at MIT and BU who seek legal assistance related to their research, advocacy, and creative projects. The clinic is staffed by BU Law students under law faculty supervision in three different practice groups:

  • Intellectual Property & Media;
  • Privacy, Security & Health;
  • Venture & Finance.

Over the course of the year, SILC provides counseling and representation to clients on a wide variety of legal issues, including intellectual property, information privacy, corporate law, cybersecurity, finance and business regulation, and media law.

SILC is the newest chapter in BU Law’s partnership with MIT, which began in 2015 with the creation of the BU/MIT Entrepreneurship, Intellectual Property & Cyberlaw Program, home to the Technology Law Clinic and the Startup Law Clinic. The two clinics merged in 2023 to become a unified, full-service legal program.

Who is eligible for representation by the clinic?

The clinic represents currently-enrolled undergraduate or graduate students at MIT or BU, or entities who have a currently-enrolled MIT or BU student as a key part of their leadership. We are the only legal service in the country that exclusively represents students.

What sorts of legal work do you do?

We can help with many of the legal questions that you encounter while doing innovative work as a student. This can include:

Research – legal issues that come up while conducting independent research projects. This can include issues around intellectual property, information privacy, conflicts between research and your employment, and starting your own projects and ventures that expand from your research activity. We also defend research that faces legal threats, and work with those who seek to use the law to further their research through laws like the Freedom of Information Act or data subject access requests.

Advocacy – any legal questions you have while engaged in technology and innovation law and policy advocacy. We help students interested in interrogating technologies or doing investigative work that might present legal questions, as well as those who seek to participate in the law and policy process by filing regulatory comments, friend-of-the-court briefs, or other activity. We also help students navigate employment and confidentiality issues if they seek to speak out about an issue.

Creation – if you are launching your own project, venture, or organization, we can help you navigate that process. We advise students on when and whether to form an entity, what type of entity to form, how to deal with organizational governance and management, and how to handle early-stage financing and support. We also deal with business and nonprofit regulations that you might encounter as you get your venture off the ground.

Our Specific Legal Practice Areas

Intellectual Property & Media, which addresses:

  • Counseling on IP protection strategies
  • Use of third-party IP in various tech and innovation contexts
  • Registration in trademark and copyright law
  • Content liability laws and online content liability
  • Freedom of speech issues in academic and advocacy work

Privacy, Security, & Health, which addresses:

  • Information privacy laws and regulations in research and industry
  • Data transfer and cross-border data issues
  • Cybersecurity and computer access laws
  • Health regulations, including FDA compliance

Venture & Finance, which addresses:

  • Entity formation counseling and entity choice
  • Nonprofit and for-profit entity and governance questions
  • Business, finance, and securities law regulatory compliance
  • Early-stage financing

We also work with a network of attorneys in the Boston area that help us with a broader set of legal questions related to your innovative activity.

How much does this cost?

We do not charge for our time doing legal work in this program; this is service that is made available to students thanks to the support of both MIT and BU. If there are out of pocket expenses related to our work—for example, a governmental filing fee or a cost to use a specific service—you will be expected to cover those expenses. We will do our best to let you know if we think that will happen, but for many projects it does not.