This course provides students with practical experience in intellectual property, entertainment and nonprofit law as they assist staff attorneys at Volunteer Lawyers for the Arts (VLA) in their representation of artists and nonprofit arts organizations. Through class discussions and journals, students reflect on the wide variety of clients and issues they encounter in their fieldwork, and engage in critical thinking about the role that law and lawyers can play in the arts and entertainment world.
The Arts Law Externship consists of three components: a weekly seminar; a fieldwork placement at Volunteer Lawyers for the Arts; and two out-of-class simulated exercises, in client counseling and contract negotiation.
Students attend weekly two hour seminars designed to reinforce and expand on their work at VLA through discussion of cases, agreements, reflections from student journals and analysis of the concepts from various readings. In the seminars, the professors cover topics such as copyright, trademark, not-for-profit law, music rights, and intellectual property licensing, as well as some of the practical skills students need to work effectively at VLA, such as client interviewing, client counseling and contract negotiation. In a few of the seminars, guest speakers will discuss their pertinent work experience and relevant cases during a portion of a class. There are assigned readings for almost all weeks, and weekly journals or short papers are expected to be handed in. Students are encouraged to use journals and classroom discussion as a time to integrate their field and seminar work and to reflect on their development as lawyers in training.
Students spend 10 hours each week working for Volunteer Lawyers for the Arts (1 East 53rd Street): one 5 hour shift at VLA's offices and another 5 hours devoted to substantive research. VLA's clients are low-income artists and nonprofit arts organizations. Their legal concerns fall primarily into the areas of copyright, not-for-profit incorporation and tax exemption, trademarks, the music industry, and other entertainment-related areas. These clients typically seek assistance reviewing, negotiating and/or drafting contracts; resolving disputes; protecting copyrights and/or trademarks; and becoming a nonprofit tax-exempt arts organization. During their 5 hours at VLA, students will handle calls on VLA's Art Law Line and participate in regularly scheduled client consultations. The remaining 5 hours of student work will be devoted to substantive research projects, assigned by VLA staff attorneys, on questions and issues arising from client representation and VLA educational and advocacy programs.
Students participate in two role-playing exercises, one simulating a client counseling session, and the other, a negotiation.
Students will receive four credits – two academic credits for the seminar and two clinical credits for the fieldwork. The seminar will be graded with letter grades. The fieldwork will be graded Credit/No Credit. Grades will be based on class participation, written work and performance in the simulated exercises. Performance in the fieldwork portion of the course can influence the grade for the seminar by half a grade in either direction (e.g. poor performance at VLA will lower an A- to a B+).
Requirements and Application Process
The course will be limited to eight students to facilitate active engagement and contribution by all. The course will be taught in Fall and Spring and will be open to J.D. and LL.M candidates. Students in the course are required to have taken, or be concurrently enrolled in, either Copyright Law, or, with permission of the instructors, the Seminar in Law and the Theatre, Seminar in Law and the Visual Arts, or Authors, Artists and Performers.
- a short statement discussing your interest and any relevant background in the course;
- whether you have applied for the course in the past;
- whether you have already completed Copyright Law and which semester, or whether you plan to take it concurrently; or whether you will be seeking permission to substitute one of the courses listed above. We would also like you to list all intellectual property classes you have taken or plan to take concurrently;
- all clinics and/or externships that you have (1) previously taken, and (2) are currently applying for, in ranking order. Please include the Negotiations Workshop on that list.
Prospective applicants may be contacted for an interview once all applications have been submitted.