Legal scholar Kenneth Crews is a man of many hats who toils at 12-hour workdays as the upstart Center for Intellectual Property and Innovation on the campus of IUPUI begins to gain momentum.
The center, whose mission is to produce attorneys fluent in the burgeoning IP practice area, was launched in May under the auspices of the Indiana University School of Law in Indianapolis. The goal is to raise at least $1.5 million to jump-start a program that would grant specific degrees to law students that could be used in the city's life sciences initiative push.
While school administrators are a long way from reaching the target, a $250,000 contribution earlier this month from the Guidant Foundation shows the corporate sector is interested in backing the endeavor, Crews said. The gift is the center's largest to date.
"The growth of this center will really depend on the support of the community," he said. "Honestly, that commitment will make all the difference."
Several law firms have contributed to the cause, and a number of local attorneys are serving as adjunct professors. The Guidant award most likely will be used to hire another full-time faculty member. Crews and fellow law professor Gerard Magliocca are the only full-timers teaching courses now. And Crews already is stretched thin as it is, serving as director of both the IP center and the Copyright Management Center established in 1994.
Ten years ago, there was no other comparable copyright center in the country, said Crews, whom the law school found during a national search teaching business law at California State University. The objectives of the IP and copyright entities overlap somewhat, Crews admitted, but the IP center has a broader scope than just copyright law.
The IU law school already offered one to two classes on intellectual property law. The center, however, devotes additional professors to the specialty to lead five to seven courses in the biotech and patent areas.
Law students or practicing lawyers interested in the intellectual property field can receive a master's degree, known as an LLM, in the subject.
Outgoing law school Dean Anthony Tarr led the effort to establish the intellectual property center. He introduced the idea nearly two years ago and envisioned producing 20 to 30 law school graduates annually who have a concentration in intellectual property.
Tarr is leaving following the spring semester to take a job as president-termed a vice chancellor in the British tradition-of the University of the South Pacific. Tarr arrived at the law school in 2002.
Susanah Mead, a 1976 graduate of the school and faculty member since 1978, will serve as interim dean until a replacement is named. She said she is pleased with the progress the center has made in its first year, despite the limited amount of money.
"We need to identify other funding opportunities," Mead said. "We're going to see if we can't interest someone in a naming opportunity, to really make enormous strides."
Naming rights and a sizable donation helped construct the law school building. The three-story facility at the corner of New York and West streets that houses classrooms and faculty offices is named Lawrence W. Inlow Hall.
The $36 million structure opened in 2001 and was supported by a $5 million contribution from Inlow's widow, Anita C. Inlow. Lawrence Inlow was a Conseco Inc. attorney who died in a May 1997 helicopter accident at Indianapolis International Airport.
Class sizes for the intellectual property offerings range from as low as 10 students up to 60. Jim Coles, co-chairman of Bose McKinney & Evans LLP's intellectual property practice and an adjunct professor at the center, will again be teaching his two-hour intellectual property transaction course in the fall. Last semester, the course attracted 20 students, Coles said.
"The majority of my students were still in their third year of law school, and most of them had a keen interest in doing something in the intellectual property area," Coles said. "The more emphasis we put on intellectual property ... the better we are."
The region's life sciences push began in 2002 with the launch of the former Central Indiana Life Sciences Initiative, now known as BioCrossroads. It was established to concentrate the resources of the city, Eli Lilly and Co., the Indiana Health Industry Forum, the Central Indiana Corporate Partnership, and Indiana and Purdue universities on central Indiana's economic development of life sciences.
For Guidant Corp., which created the foundation in 1995, its $250,000 gift will assist an entity that has the opportunity to attract the best and brightest attorneys interested in patent law, said James Baumgardt, one of Guidant's founders and president of the foundation.
"We're excited to be a part of this," he said. "The intellectual property process leads directly to life-saving sciences. I'm glad the law school is taking the initiative to try to really stay focused on this."
The foundation doles out $5 million to $14 million in charitable contributions annually. The future of the foundation, however, is uncertain, due to Guidant's pending sale to Johnson & Johnson. Baumgardt said he anticipates there will be "forms of [financial] continuations," although that's currently unknown.
About a dozen law schools nationwide host intellectual property centers. Crews' hope is that the local center can engage in research activities once it's more established.