What We Do

The Innovation Practice Institute (IPI) re-imagines lawyers and the legal profession for the 21st century, focusing on how lawyers trained in new ways and with new ideas can both succeed professionally and also advance regional economic and community development.

We are innovators and entrepreneurs in legal education, in the legal profession, and in the legal services industry. We train new lawyers to be innovators and to work with innovators.

The IPI relies on community engagement, hands-on mentoring, cutting edge research and new classroom models. Innovation of all sorts is key. Lawyers must be able to address the legal and business needs of 21st century innovators.  And lawyers increasingly need to be entrepreneurs and leaders themselves, within the rapidly changing market for legal services.

Executing that vision

We implement the IPI’s vision via programming inside the classroom, outside the classroom, and in the community that emphasizes the following:

  • Innovation and creation as subject matter, focusing on law as it relates to technology and as it relates to the arts and design.  This includes the ever-changing domestic and international legal landscape relevant to knowledge and information production, intellectual property, computer networks (including privacy and security), health sciences, life sciences, expert systems, and artificial intelligence
  • Innovation as practice, focusing on entrepreneurship for founders, technology developers, not-for-profit entities, and lawyers themselves
  • Innovation as system, which means supporting and understanding innovation ecologies, including technology transfer processes
  • Innovation as personal advancement, which means leadership and professional development for the 21st century legal profession
  • Innovation via social enterprise and social entrepreneurship, which means that all of the IPI’s programming includes people, projects, and communities in the not-for-profit world as well as the for-profit world, and blends of the two

The specifics

We are not bound by the century-old traditions of law schools. We are structured flexibly so that we can adapt quickly to emerging needs, opportunities, and resources. We succeed through novel and unique collaborations among the University of Pittsburgh School of Law and:

  • the practicing bar
  • innovators, founders, entrepreneurs, and investors
  • economic development organizations
  • universities and colleges, including technology transfer and translational research enterprises
  • the start-up community, including technology incubators and accelerators
  • regional arts, culture, and entertainment communities
  • the not-for-profit and government sectors.

IPI opportunities, partnerships, and resources for students, practitioners, and innovators

  • Innovators, Esq.: Weekly lunch programs, open to all students and members of the Pitt Law community, with guest speakers from the many worlds of law and innovation. Read more about Innovators, Esq.
  • Start Smart: A partnership between the Innovation Practice Institute and Project Olympus at Carnegie Mellon University, Start Smart offers presentations on legal topics of interest to entrepreneurs.  Law students and graduate students partner to advance new ventures. Read more about Start Smart.
  • The IPI Leadership Forum: Leadership training for all law students. Read more about the IPI Leadership Forum.
  • Experiential learning: Internships and externships at Pitt’s Office of Technology Management, Carnegie Mellon University’s Center for Technology Transfer and Enterprise Creation (CTTEC), and the Coulter Translational Research Partners II Program at Pitt’s Swanson School of Engineering. Partnerships offering student learning opportunities at business incubator and accelerator programs in Pittsburgh, including AlphaLabAlphaLab GearAscender, and Urban Innovation 21.
  • Support for Pitt Law students entering business plan competitions in the Pittsburgh region and at the University of Pittsburgh.
  • Connections and collaboration between the IPI and the University of Pittsburgh’s home for campus-wide innovation programming, the Innovation Institute.
  • Courses in law, innovation, and entrepreneurship.
  • Faculty research and scholarship on cutting-edge law and innovation topics, recognized worldwide. Read more about IPI-affiliated research and scholarship.


The IPI does not offer legal services or confidential legal advice.