Section Description Provided by Instructor
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. For some weeks, guest speakers (experts in their field of law and, often, Columbia Law grads) come in to cover topics such as copyright, trademark, not-for-profit law, music rights, and intellectual property licensing. Other seminars cover some of the practical skills students need to work effectively at VLA, such as client interviewing, client counseling and contract negotiation. There are assigned readings for some but not all weeks, and weekly journals or short papers are 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 out-of class role-playing exercises, one simulating a client counseling session, and the other, the negotiation of a book-publishing contract.
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+).
R 9:10a - 11:00a
Method of Evaluation
J.D. Writing Credit
Minor (upon consultation)
In lieu of Copyright Law, students may be given permission to enroll in one of the following: Seminar in Law and the Theatre: Seminar in Law and the Visual Arts; Authors, Artists and Performers.
Eight students will be accepted. An application, resume and short interview are required for admission.