In Hollywood, it’s often said that success is based on “who you know.” When it comes to ranking the top schools for entertainment law, the industry applies the same standard.
A recent Hollywood Reporter article ranked “Hollywood’s Top Law Schools,” based on the number of alums on their industry’s Power Lawyers List. While it may be of no surprise that UCLA and USC make it on the list, Michigan and George Washington appear as well.
So, besides rankings, what can an aspiring entertainment lawyer look to when trying to find the right law school? Here are some suggestions.
Location, Location, Location:
As expected, many of the best law schools for entertainment are located in Los Angeles and New York. Close to Hollywood, UCLA and USC have easy access to opportunities in the entertainment industry. Moreover, their alums often go on to be esteemed members of the entertainment community creating an impressive networking system for current students to find the right firm or the next big celebrity client.
Top law schools for entertainment offer industry specific courses. One of UCLA’s highlighted “Areas of Focus” is Entertainment Law and touts such classes as Cultural Property Law, Music Industry Law and Motion Picture Distribution. Southwestern Law School offers over 25 entertainment and media related courses ranging from copyright law to a class in financing and distribution of independent films.
For those more interested in the tech side of entertainment, U.C. Berkeley has a renowned Law and Technology program. Chuck Hurewitz, an entertainment attorney with IPK in Los Angeles, confirms that “One of the important things in making a decision about law school is to find one where you can learn about the practical business side of entertainment law.”
Aside from entertainment specific curriculum, consider schools where you will be able to get a strong education in core areas such as contracts and torts, in addition to more specific disciplines including intellectual property, negotiations, privacy, international law, cyber security – all relevant to modern entertainment law practices.
Clinics give students the opportunity to gain hands-on experience. USC’s Gould School of Law offers an Intellectual Property and Technology clinic where students represent filmmakers and artists in areas such as contract negotiations or drafting of licensing agreements. One of Harvard’s Transactional Law Clinics is specifically devoted to entertainment. UCLA offers three clinics in the area of entertainment law including Negotiation Theory and Practice.
Look for schools that offer opportunities in the entertainment field outside of the classroom. Brooklyn Law School and UPenn Law School’s blog about Entertainment and Sports Law Societies provide support and networking opportunities – e.g. through alumni outreach and guest speaker series – for students interested in pursuing a career in entertainment law. Michigan’s Entertainment, Media, and Arts Law Student Association holds movie nights and social outings for its members. UCLA organizes an annual Entertainment Symposium featuring over 500 speakers, including entertainment lawyers and executives, covering current industry trends.
Finally, like any other area of law, your chances of succeeding in entertainment greatly improve if you attend a high ranking T14 school that can provide you with a great general legal education. Going to a top law school maximizes your potential of finding job placement in ANY practice area – including entertainment – down the road.