A Law School Founded on Innovation and Entrepreneurship
The history of the University of New Hampshire School of Law is marked by a continuous effort to provide hands-on legal education in a small, intimate environment. It was founded in 1973, as Franklin Pierce Law Center, partly in reaction to two shortcomings in US legal education: its failure to effectively teach professional skills and its neglect of intellectual property law–then an obscure specialty and now recognized as an essential engine to economic development.
The school's primary founder was Robert Rines, a patent attorney and professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, who envisioned a school where the focus would be on the interface of law and science as well as on training patent lawyers with a practice-based approach. In addition to being a second-generation patent lawyer, Rines was a successful inventor, holding nearly 100 patents.
His spirit of entrepreneurship has for over three decades driven UNH Law to be an innovator in practice-driven education, for students interested in intellectual property, social justice, or other fields of the law.
From the beginning, it was Rines' vision that Franklin Pierce Law Center would be focused on promoting IP as an engine of global innovation, growth and public interest. Professionals from both developed and developing nations were welcomed at Franklin Pierce Law Center for training and the opportunity to learn from others on the cutting edge of international IP practice and policy.
A decade after Franklin Pierce Law Center was founded, these early activities were organized into the first interdisciplinary IP degree in the nation, the Master of Intellectual Property Program (M.I.P.). This one-year program was designed to train IP professionals from around the globe, many of whom went on to start some of the first national government IP offices, law practices and NGOs. To date, UNH Law has trained thousands of legal professionals working in more than 80 countries. Many visitors to the Concord, NH campus of UNH Law are struck by the number of international students and the global environment it creates.
In 2010, Franklin Pierce Law Center signed an affiliation agreement with the University of New Hampshire and officially became the University of New Hampshire School of Law. The affiliation, in the works for several years, united the previously independent law school with New Hampshire’s world-class public research university, providing fertile ground for joint efforts in research and intellectual property, social justice, business studies, and agriculture and animal law. The law school remained in Concord – the state capital and the center of legal activity – which is 35 miles from the main university campus in Durham.