The Top 10 Entertainment Law Schools 2018, Ranked

7:00 AM 4/5/2018

by Brian Porreca

UCLA takes the No. 1 spot for producing the most Power Lawyers on this year's list.

Illustration by Tim Peacock

  • 1. UCLA School of Law (18 alums)

    Los Angeles

    Courtesy of UCLA

    Proximity makes the Westwood campus one of the top providers of Hollywood legal talent, and the school is a draw for moguls such as Leslie Moonves and Stacey Snider thanks to the annual symposium put on by the Ziffren Center for Media, Entertainment, Technology and Sports Law (named for power lawyer Ken Ziffren, who gave $5 million to the school).

  • 2. Harvard Law School (15 alums)

    Cambridge, Massachusetts

    Getty Images

    While graduates of the Ivy League stalwart often have their choice of career options, the school has numerous programs that steer grads to Hollywood, from its Entertainment Law Clinic and Recording Artists Project to the school’s Harassment Assault Law-Student Team, founded about three years ago to advocate on behalf of sexual abuse victims. 

  • 3. USC Gould School of Law (13 alums)

    Los Angeles

    Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

    Students are drawn from all over the country to the downtown L.A. campus, which in turn does its part to connect them with the local entertainment industry through student organizations focusing on sports, music and entertainment law. “Growing up in Cleveland, Ohio,” says alum Jeanne Newman, “it never occurred to me that becoming an entertainment lawyer was a professional option. By the time I graduated from USC law, I knew the names and practice areas of every important entertainment law firm in L.A.” 

  • 4. Columbia Law School (9 alums)

    New York

    Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

    Students here might get some face time with Clooney. No, not George, but prominent lawyer and alum Amal Clooney (his wife), who is co-teaching a course this spring centered on human rights. Other recent guests to the school include alum and Sony Pictures chairman Tom Rothman. Its Kernochan Center for Law, Media and the Arts hosts discussions on digital entertainment. Alum Matt Galsor suggests law students should “spend some time with lawyers practicing in the area you’re interested in to see what it’s really like.” 

  • 5. UC Berkeley School of Law (6 alums)

    Berkeley, California

    Courtesy of UC Berkeley

    With the increasing convergence of the entertainment and digital fields, the Bay Area school has continued to expand its offerings for law and technology, including cybercrime and cybersecurity. One of its newer programs, in partnership with the university’s Haas School of Business, highlights business law and startups.

  • 6. Georgetown Law (5 alums)

    Washington, D.C.

    Alex Wong/Getty Images

    Not all Hoyas end up working on Capitol Hill (see alums Savannah Guthrie and Greta Van Susteren). Each year, recent grads in entertainment and media return to campus as part of a symposium (now in its 11th year) to discuss trends in entertainment, tech, sports law, copyright and other related issues. “The world is changing and lawyers will continue to be the glue that holds it together,” says alum Darrell Miller as encouragement for those thinking about entering the world of entertainment law. 

  • 6. Southwestern Law School (5 alums)

    Los Angeles

    Courtesy of Southwestern Law School

    Through its well-known Entertainment and the Arts Legal Clinic, the school offers students real-world entertainment law experience by offering business affairs and production legal services to industry clients such as emerging and indie filmmakers, musicians and digital content producers. In addition to a London summer program focusing on international media law, the school offers all of its students a peer mentor and dean fellows programs.

  • 6. Stanford Law School (5 alums)

    Stanford, California

    Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

    Given its location in Silicon Valley, the school has long maintained a curriculum that delves into areas like technology and intellectual property as well as entertainment law. The faculty also features active voices in the national discussion about workplace sexual harassment and the legal profession’s response. Deborah L. Rhode, a professor of law and director of the Center on the Legal Profession, criticized one of the biggest names in the profession with a New York Times op-ed titled “David Boies’s Egregious Involvement With Harvey Weinstein.” 

  • 9. George Washington Law (4 alums)

    Washington, D.C.

    Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

    The school offers a wide range of courses on its home campus on administrative law, government regulation, and commercial, business and labor law. But it also has a range of programs in other cities, including New York and Munich, to give students connections in a variety of fields. Says alum Nancy Rose, “Find an area of law that you are passionate about and,” per the phrase Malcolm Gladwell made famous, “do the 10,000 hours.”

  • 10. Honorary Mentions (3 alums)

    Eustress/Wikimedia Commons

    Sharing the same number of alumni on THR’s Power Lawyers list this year is a clutch of top-rated schools: Cornell University, New York University, UC Hastings, University of Michigan and University of Pennsylvania.

    Cornell alum Joe Calabrese has a warning for Ithaca, New York-bound students: “Make sure you really like to work hard. Make sure you don’t mind late hours.”

    NYU recently hosted a forum titled “Avoiding the Next Harvey Weinstein: Sexual Harassment and Non-Disclosure Agreements.” Hastings boasts Hollywood alums including former CBS Entertainment president Nancy Tellem and high-profile criminal attorney Thomas Mesereau. Michigan turns to its alumni network to mentor students and Penn (new to this list) serves up a special program on documentaries and the law. 

    This story first appeared in the April 4 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.

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