by Will Jarvis
Two hundred new artistic voices are being heard everyday inside a building in the East Village, New York, being dubbed the R&D Lab for an unexpected confluence of creative types.
In addition to artists, architects, designers, musicians, performers, writers, performers, social workers, academics, students, activists, lawyers, authors, and others, the space is also home to lawyers, and two thirds of the space is occupied by lawyers.
On a walk through the R&D Lab, Will Jarvis, the Independent’s science writer, takes us inside and explains the significance of this startling encounter between the law and creative creativity.
US/UK Population: 326,031,000
US exports: $505.8B
Projected for 2030: $1.917B
Percent of Total Population with healthcare insurance: 93.9%
Percent of the population who signed Obamacare: 73.5%
Percentage of US residents who use public transportation: 65.7%
Percentage of Americans who are obese: 41.4%
Percentage of US residents who speak a language other than English at home: 16.9%
Intensity of Health Insurance Coverage
US Information Technology Employment
Communications, Film, and TV
Finance and Insurance
Education and Careers
Technology, Computer, and Communications
Healthcare and Social Services
Information and Communication Technologies
Arts and Entertainment
Management and Production
Administration and Support Services
Cosmetics and Fragrance
Nightlife, Entertainment, and Bowling, Food and Beverage
Development, Construction, Property Management, Carpentry, General Contracting, Metal Fabrication, Retail Fixtures, Rental Equipment, Skilled Labor and Maintenance Services
Law, Law, Law
Legal Research, Law School Directives
Intersectional Legal Studies
Critical Legal Studies
The R&D Lab is the brainchild of New York-based “creative entrepreneur”, Nisha Gomes, and her lawyer husband, Shiva Sethna. They set out to foster a national dialogue between the law and the creative arts.
The couple was inspired by the ideas they had been propagating during Shiva’s time at Columbia Law School (from 2006 to 2014). In 2010, Shiva founded LawFoundry, a program designed to bring similar initiatives to law schools around the country.
In practice, the R&D Lab is a collaborative community of creative professionals and lawyers. It is a space where creative people come together with lawyers to talk about innovative new designs for law firms. It creates spaces for artists to make their creative ideas happen. It also provides legal advisory services for artists and managers.
At the R&D Lab, the contrasts between lawyers and creative people are as many as the similarities are few. The room is rammed full of law students and lawyers. After lawyer Shiva arrived to work, a young activist for the #MeToo movement approached him and asked if she could come in and watch “a few pro bono legal internships”. Afterwards, they made friends over coffee. One day, they went into the R&D Lab together and sat and talked.