America's Top 10 Entertainment Law Schools
THR evaluated course offerings, practical training and the esteemed alumni of the nation's more than 200 law schools to create this first-ever list.
This story first appeared in the July 27 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine.
Looking to up your IP IQ? THR evaluated course offerings, practical training and the esteemed alumni of the nation's more than 200 law schools to create this first-ever list of the best spots for a stellar showbiz education
1. UCLA School of Law | Los Angeles
One of the first law schools to consider entertainment a serious discipline more than four decades ago, UCLA tops this list based on its diverse and specialized offerings (try a film distribution course taught by Ken Ziffren), an army of alumni in all fields of showbiz and students' ability to sample classes at the campus' film and business schools. "That's been a consistent interest of the school, to integrate the disciplines," says program director David Ginsburg, one of America's few full-time administrators dedicated to entertainment law. Having Hollywood in its backyard helps UCLA lure A-list students and faculty and contributes to a two-day symposium each spring that draws about 600 top executives and lawyers for speakers on topics from reality TV deals to copyright termination litigation and keynote talks from the likes of CBS Corp.'s Leslie Moonves. Alums: DreamWorks co-chairman Stacey Snider, Warner Bros. TV Group president Bruce Rosenblum, dealmaker Skip Brittenham.
2. USC Gould School of Law | Los Angeles
A close second to UCLA, USC ramped up its emphasis on Hollywood in 2009 by hiring former Warner Bros. general counsel John Schulman to lead its entertainment law program. "My goal is to expose the students to what lawyers in entertainment actually do," he says. An expansive alumni network helps place students at studios and networks. Alums: Universal Studios general counsel Maren Christensen, TV dealmaker Jeanne Newman, Fox Home Entertainment executive vp business affairs Ted Russell.
3. Harvard Law School | Cambridge, Mass.
No shock that alums of America's top-ranked law school have little trouble finding jobs in Hollywood. But more surprising is the emphasis Harvard places on showbiz with extensive intellectual property courses, clinical work via its Recording Artists Project (which helped Grammy winner Esperanza Spalding negotiate her first record deal) and an active student group that matches alums with aspiring entertainment lawyers. Alums: Bert Fields, talent dealmaker Bruce Ramer, music mogul Clive Davis.
4. Southwestern Law School | Los Angeles
For a university ranked low by U.S. News & World Report, Southwestern excels in one high-profile area: entertainment. Students take copyright law during their first year and can choose among more than 50 media courses, including film distribution and video game law. "We give students total flexibility," says Steven Krone, who leads the school's program. Alums: Lionsgate general counsel Wayne Levin, 20th Century Fox TV business affairs guru Howard Kurtzman, litigator Daniel Petrocelli.
5. Columbia Law School | New York
In the heart of New York, Columbia offers theater and art heritage law courses as well as a traditional intellectual property curriculum, with many classes taught by local lawyers. "We see a need for something, we find someone to teach it," says June Besek, executive director of the school's Kernochan Center. Columbia also boasts one of the nation's oldest entertainment law journals (since 1975) and a big internship program. Alums: Viacom CEO Philippe Dauman, Fox co-chairman Tom Rothman, TiVo president and CEO Tom Rogers.
6. U.C. Berkeley School of Law | Berkeley, Calif.
Berkeley offers the oldest law and technology certificate program (since 1995) along with IP and entertainment courses to prepare students for the digital age. "I think a lot of the really interesting entertainment careers are going to be on the tech side," says faculty director Peter Menell. Field trips are offered to Warner Bros. and Lucasfilm, where students often snag internships. Alums: Fox Networks executive vp Rita Tuzon, ABC business affairs head Jana Winograde, indie dealmaker Linda Lichter.
7. Loyola Law School | Los Angeles
Although less prestigious than some of its L.A. rivals, Loyola offers an impressive entertainment and media law concentration: In 2011 more than 40 students nabbed Hollywood internships. "More and more, schools are trying to educate students so they actually know how to do something useful," says director Jay Dougherty, a former studio lawyer. Alums: ABC Studios executive vp Howard Davine, Disney executive vp legal affairs Steve Bardwil, Pilgrim Studios general counsel Gretchen Stockdale.
8. Stanford Law School | Stanford, Calif.
"Pure entertainment, present and future." That's how online media law professor Paul Goldstein describes Stanford's offerings, which include a class on publicity rights and guest professors such as Bert Fields. Students design their own curricula from courses like Law and Culture in American Film. Having studied at a top-five U.S. News-ranked school certainly helps students score their first jobs. Alums: EA general counsel Stephen Bene, SAG-AFTRA executive director David White, 24 creator Robert Cochran.
9. Vanderbilt Law School | Nashville
Far from Hollywood, the school's well-regarded intellectual property program trains students with an eye on the Nashville music scene and digital rights law. "There's really no point learning the details of today if you don't understand that tomorrow is going to be different," says program co-director Daniel Gervais. A vibrant arts clinic and an entertainment law journal add to the experience. Alums: RIAA senior executive vp Mitch Glazier, UFC general counsel Ike Lawrence Epstein, Nielsen top lawyer James Cuminale.
10. Fordham University School of Law | New York
Fordham's media and entertainment program offers diverse courses on music and sports law as well as mass media and digital issues. The school's annual IP conference has drawn a crowd for 20 years running, and its Fashion Law Institute is the first of its kind in the nation. Also strong is its student-run IP and entertainment law journal. Alums: Fox co-chairman Jim Gianopulos, ABC News anchor Chris Cuomo, former Disney Studios chairman Rich Ross.
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