New Tech Law Internship Program Launches with Prime Spot at eBay

Part of an emphasis on building careers in law and tech.

For Columbia Law School students who want to be at the intersection of law and technology, let the bidding begin: A new paid summer internship at eBay will provide rising second-year students the opportunity to work on legal issues facing the giant online marketplace.

The eBay internship, part of the Dean’s Technology Law Internship Program launched by Gillian Lester, Dean and the Lucy G. Moses Professor of Law, builds on existing technology law opportunities at the Law School, including the Lawyering in the Digital Age Clinic and internships at the Alibaba Group, Via, Cloudflare, and Microsoft, where alumnus Brad Smith ’84 serves as president and chief legal officer.

Lester, in partnership with the Office of Career Services and Professional Development and its dean, Petal Modeste, developed the eBay internship with the company’s President and Chief Executive Officer Devin Wenig ’91. During the 10-week program, a Law School student will spend five weeks rotating through eBay’s legal department in San Jose, California, and five weeks at one of two eBay partner law firms in San Francisco and Palo Alto, either Sidley Austin or Baker McKenzie.

“We have been working to create additional multidisciplinary opportunities for our students and the eBay partnership is a tremendous kick-off,” said Dean Lester. “We hope the internship will be a model for other tech-sector internships and are thrilled to be exploring innovative ways to give our students firsthand experience in law and technology.”

Marie Oh Huber, senior vice president and general counsel at eBay, said the company “is excited to partner with Columbia Law School on a pilot internship that will offer a student the unique opportunity to work with both eBay’s legal department and one of our outside counsel. By offering students work experience in both environments, our hope is that they will gain a deeper exposure to and understanding of technology law, as well as the issues at stake intersecting technology and the legal profession.”

The new eBay internship is just one way in which the Law School is helping build careers combining law and tech. In 2001, Professors Conrad Johnson and Mary Marsh Zulack created the Lawyering in the Digital Age Clinic, which helps devise technological solutions to legal challenges. Students also learn from powerhouse technology law professors including Tim Wu, a former senior adviser of the Federal Trade Commission who coined the term “net neutrality,” and Eben Moglen, founder of the Software Freedom Law Center.

Tim Chen ’18, who spent this past summer at Alibaba working under General Counsel Tim Steinert ’89, said the opportunity was too good to pass up.

“Alibaba is doing incredible things in the way it is connecting the Chinese market to the rest of the world,” he said. “Technology plays such an immense role in our lives, and the law has a role to play too in balancing various values, including efficiency and security.”

Chen also said it was helpful to work on the client-side of legal matters rather than the law firm provider side. Pria Narsiman ’18, who worked at the ride-share company Via over the summer, agreed.

“It was interesting to see interactions from the client’s perspective, because next summer I will be in the outside counsel role,” said Narsiman, who will work at Goodwin Procter in the summer of 2017.

At Via, Narsiman worked on regulatory and licensing requirements for the company’s expansion into Washington, D.C., which was finalized shortly before she completed her internship.

“The ride-sharing space is interesting; no two states have the same regulatory regimes,” she said.

That’s exactly the kind of once-in-a-lifetime experience Modeste and Dean Lester had in mind when they created the Dean’s Technology Law Internship Program, and why they plan to expand it to other companies in Silicon Valley and beyond.


Posted January 19, 2017