University of Pittsburgh

Innovation Practice Institute


The Innovation Practice Institute (IPI) is a first-of-its-kind collaboration among a law school, the practicing bar, and local innovators and entrepreneurs.  Innovation is critical to our global future.  Law and lawyers are critical to innovation.  Innovators and creators need all kinds of resources to bring their insights to productive fruition – from protection from competition, to financing, employees, and operating space.  Lawyers are uniquely positioned to design and implement solutions to all of those challenges, and to do so in creative, efficient, and effective ways.  Innovators need lawyers.  Lawyers need to be innovative.

The IPI advances both goals.  The IPI trains new lawyers to partner with innovators and teaches lawyers to be innovators.  It does that through new classroom models, hands-on mentoring of law students, and community partnerships that give law students real-world experiential opportunities to work with 21st century innovators.  The result?  New lawyers who are uniquely positioned to advance 21st century innovation.

The Vision:

Programs:  The IPI develops curricular and extra-curricular programming, keyed to experiential learning, that trains law students to participate in regional entrepreneurial and innovation communities.

Partnerships:  The IPI builds critical partnerships across the region with cross-institutional academic stakeholders, the practicing bar, innovators and investors, and policymakers.

Student Support:  The IPI recruits new students, supports placement for students and new graduates in internships, externships, and full-time jobs, and cultivates law alumni committed to innovation and economic development, in partnership with the Admissions, Career Services, and Alumni Relations/Development functions at the law school.

Scholarship:  The IPI is committed to serving as a national thought leader in innovation in law and legal education. The IPI supports and enables faculty and student scholarship in the area of law and innovation.

IPI Programs:

Start Smart and the IPI Workshop:  Start Smart is a collaborative program developed by the IPI in partnership with Project Olympus at CMU, launched during 2011-2012, and jointly hosted by the IPI and Project Olympus.  Start Smart consists of educational seminars and workshopsto teach law students, entrepreneurs and start-ups in the Pittsburgh region the basics of business law and business formation, and to encourage interaction between Pitt Law students and entrepreneurs and senior lawyers.  Programs are free and open to the public.

Innovators, Esq.:  This is a lunchtime speaker series for law students featuring lawyers who have used their law degrees to pursue successful non-legal or non-traditional legal careers.

IPI Leadership Forum:  This is a free, five-week leadership development program offered to Pitt Law students, faculty, and staff by Professor Michael Madison, Faculty Director of the IPI.

IPI Curriculum:

Law and jointly-offered courses developed by or in coordination with the IPI include:

  • Commercializing New Technologies (offered with Pitt’s Katz School of Business)
  • Law and Entrepreneurship
  • Understanding the Legal Services Marketplace


  • Copyright Law and
  • Trademark Law

IPI-affiliated law students have been placed in internships and externships at more than a dozen private-sector, not-for-profit, and university-based innovation enterprises since 2011.

Revised 09/28/2011 | Copyright 2011 | Site by UMC