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  • Sanchit Varma

Miracle in the Desert: Law and Tech in the Start-Up Nation

There are only a handful of nations in the world that can boast of a start-up ecosystem comparable to that of Israel. In fact, this post is being written on a blog hosted by Wix, a company founded in Tel Aviv in 2006! In just over 70 years since its independence, Israel has seen an exponential growth in the number of tech companies that call it home. A total of 93 companies from Israel are currently listed on the NASDAQ, second highest for any foreign nation with listings on the exchange. With over 6000 active startups, it has rightfully earned the moniker of the "Start-Up Nation". Coupled with the thriving entrepreneurial scene in Israel, the Law and Technology track at Tel Aviv University offers LLM candidates the unique opportunity to experience legal education in the heart of a technological revolution. Here's a brief summary about the Law and Technology track, with a section on how you can finance your LLM studies at Tel Aviv University.

Curriculum and Faculty

As part of the Law and Technology track, LLM candidates are required to take a minimum of 15 out of 32 mandatory credits, from courses offered in the Law and Technology track. Within the Law and Technology track, students can pick from a diverse range of courses on Intellectual Property, Information Law, and Start-Up law, amongst others, offered by faculty from around the world. For instance, in the current academic year you can learn the fundamental principles of international IP law with Harvard Law School's Prof. Ruth L. Okediji. You can also deep dive into US Trademark Law with Prof. Stacey Dogan from Boston University School of Law, or explore the application of artificial intelligence in legal practice with Prof. Mireille Hildebrandt and Dr. Laurence Diver of Vrije Universiteit Brussel. It is evident from courses such as The History and Philosophy of Internet Hacking offered by Yale Law School's Professor Scott J. Shapiro, that the program is not afraid of pushing conventional boundaries in the field of Law and Technology. For Pulkit Mogra, an alumnus of the Law and Technology track, the unique course offering at Tel Aviv University significantly influenced his decision to pick the Parasol Foundation International LLM over other competing alternatives."When I was exploring courses, it was difficult for me to find courses which were given in robotics, AI and law, intellectual property mixed with AI, modern warfare systems", summed up Pulkit. After taking 15 mandatory credits for the Law and Technology specialization, students are free to either take more credits from this specialization, or instead experience a diverse range of courses from other tracks including International Law and Human Rights, and International Business Law, in addition to general elective courses. "If there's an interesting course on Law and Religion you can still do it, and that's what I did!", quips Dana Alpar, a 2017 graduate of the Law and Technology track. The flexibility offered by Tel Aviv University in letting students choose their courses has had positive learning outcomes for its students. Pulkit explains that in his current role as a professor in India he deals with two primary specializations: law and technology, and the Israel-Palestine conflict. "This was a big pro for me, because studying the Israel-Palestine conflict right in the heart of the land made a big difference for me - that was also a driving factor [in choosing the program]. That gave me a lot of different perspectives which are very helpful for me", highlighted Pulkit.

GLOCAL and Practical Experience

In order to ensure that LLM candidates are able to fully realize the advantages of studying in the Start-Up Nation, Tel Aviv University has introduced the Glocal Legal Practice. The idea behind Glocal is simple: global students meet local start-ups and law firms in Israel. As part of the program students are awarded academic credit for working with local offices in and around Tel Aviv, which helps them build a strong and diverse CV. Glocal also gives students valuable legal experience in a foreign jurisdiction, helping them build their international network and foster long-lasting connections. The exposure to Tel Aviv's tech space doesn't end with Glocal - the LLM program is also well known for its field trips and excursions. As an example, students are taken for a High-Tech tour to Google Tel Aviv.

In addition, the track offers students the benefit of learning from sector-leaders who bring a wealth of practical experience to the classroom. Pulkit tells us that during his time at Tel Aviv University, he was taught by Professor Steve Zipperstein, who most recently served as the Chief Legal Officer and General Counsel of BlackBerry Ltd. Similarly, the track features a practical course on Start-Up Law with Dr. Ayal Shenhav & Adv. Gal Hoffman from GKH Law Office, a top Israeli law firm.

Beyond the classroom, learning from such acclaimed faculty helps you build your network amongst leading practitioners. Dana feels that it is "definitely important to have a good relationship with the lecturers, and for a lot of students that's the way they got internships"

The interface with a global faculty worked out well for Pulkit when he was applying for his PhD. "I was able to contact the faculty members who belonged to Canada and the United States and got their recommendation letters later on because I took their courses", stated Pulkit.