Category Archives: Legal

5 Tips on Choosing a Law School Course

Getting accepted into law school and selecting the right program is just the start of the journey toward a law degree. An essential early step along the way? Choosing the right law school classes. Because perusing the course catalog can leave your head spinning, we’ve rounded up five steps aimed at helping you construct the perfect plan toward achieving your unique academic and professional goals.

1. Understand the Progression

Most law schools follow a basic curriculum over the course of the program. In the first year, you will likely be required to take core classes aimed at instilling a solid understanding of foundational legal principles and processes.

As you progress through law school, you will also have the opportunity to choose electives. How you use these electives is largely up to you. Some students designate electives toward gaining a deeper understanding of the law while others opt to explore potential areas of interest. Either way, this freedom is also a responsibility: The more you know about the process, the more empowered you’ll be to design a coherent academic program.

2. Consult Your Graduation Requirements

Familiarizing yourself with what courses you’re expected to take and when is a critical part of ensuring that you will meet all courses required for graduation and bar privileges. You don’t have to do this alone: In addition to your student handbook and online resources, your law school’s registrar and/or office of academic affairs offer invaluable partnership when it comes to making sure you’re on the right track.

Fulfilling your graduation requirements can be more challenging than it seems as many courses require prerequisites, while others may only be offered occasionally and therefore are at risk of maxing out in enrollment. The more proactive you are in planning your program, the more likely you are to secure the courses you need.

Planning on a clerkship or externship, meanwhile? These highly sought-after jobs may require certain coursework, such as Evidence, so make sure to have these on your transcript before applying.

3. Check Out the Professors

Taking the time to identify high-quality, engaging, and accessible professors can also mean the difference between fun and frustration. In fact, most law students agree that a good (or bad) professor can make or break your performance in a particular course, which in turn can either be a boon or a bust on your transcript.

How do you know which professors measure up? Your fellow classmates are a great place to start. Be as specific as possible when inquiring about instructors — from how much reading is assigned to how grades are determined. Getting your hands on a syllabus is also an effective way to get a better sense of the teacher, as is looking into whether he/she has won any teaching awards.

Additionally, today’s students live in the digital, sharing age.  A number of online resources, including Rate My Professors, are available through which students exchange experiences with particular professors and courses.

4. Assess and Reassess

While you may have a general idea of the coursework you plan to take during your three years of law school, this is subject to change along the way depending on everything from your academic records to your interests. If you’ve struggled with bar courses to date, loading up bar classes can help strengthen your weak areas and better prepare for what’s ahead. Or perhaps a newfound area of interest has arisen during your time in law school to date? Reassessing your plan before each new semester can help you chart the best course.

5. Don’t Forget Writing Courses!

Strong writing skills are not only vital to law school survival, but also to a successful legal career. Building in coursework focused on legal writing can help you develop crucial legal analytical skills while also generating a writing sample which might come in handy later. While one or two writing classes may be required, taking more writing courses strengthens your profile.

One caveat? Avoid loading up on too many writing courses at one time. A balanced load between writing and exam courses can prevent you from becoming overloaded when things pick up during the middle and end of the term.

One last thing to keep in mind when choosing your courses? While there’s a lot to learn in law school, there’s also a lot to discover. Stepping outside your comfort zone and trying something new — International Sports Law or Indigenous Peoples Law, anyone? — can lead in unexpected directions…not to mention exciting professional and personal payoffs.

Here are 5 Areas of Unclear Law!

When you sit back and think about it, laws apply to nearly every aspect of modern life. There are laws that regulate the stuffing in your pillows, the additives in your food, the number of windows in your apartment, and the number of cars that drive on your street. When you buy things, operate things, create things, and enter into contracts with things (and people), you engage with various laws. And while many of these laws fall under familiar fields like real estate law, civil law, health and safety laws, and intellectual property law, there are others that are more obscure but just as interesting and necessary. So, whether you want to explore the legal side of a hobby or interest, or are looking to challenge yourself in a very specific area of the law, start by considering these five little-known law fields.

1. Equine Law
You’re probably already familiar with some of the aspects of animal law, but did you know that there is an entire field of law dedicated to horses? Due to the ways in which humans interact with horses, equine law is highly specialized and includes business law, animal law, sports law, and other areas. Equine lawyers should have both a thorough understanding of the law and specific knowledge of horses and their role in society, business, leisure, and industry. A lawyer who specializes in equine law might deal in transfer agreements, sales, tax, and immigration, but may also represent equine associations, farmers, or hobbyists. Equine lawyers might also find themselves dealing with animal rights cases, international regulations, and veterinary medicine.

2. Fashion Law
Anyone who’s seen The Devil Wears Prada knows that a blue sweater is never just a blue sweater but rather a representation of ‘millions of dollars and countless jobs.’ Indeed, the fashion industry is a major player in the world’s economy, and as such requires dedicated legal professionals who can address issues ranging from intellectual property rights to trade agreements and corporate structure. Fashion law, which falls under “Droit de luxe,” or luxury law, is anything but frivolous. Alongside trade, business, and trademark law, lawyers specializing in fashion law could find themselves working on laws regulating model contracts and appearance, or tackling human rights issues related to production and supply-chains.

3. Aviation Law
Aviation law has roots in ancient Roman legal structures and the first law pertaining directly to aircraft was written in 1784 (it regulated the use of hot air balloons in Paris). Modern aviation law is more commonly associated with air travel and aircraft, and while some of the areas of aviation law fall under admiralty law, the field includes aspects of business law, federal and international law, and civil law. Lawyers working in aviation law might represent individuals who have been wronged or injured during commercial air travel, but they could also deal in airline management issues, international disputes, criminal cases, and the growing field of drone regulation. And if normal aviation isn’t exciting enough for you, consider building on your aviation expertise and launching yourself into space law!

4. Cryptography Law
Our society’s reliance on technology depends in large part on our ability to protect and encrypt information. It’s no surprise then that cryptography, or the practice of securing information, has it’s own branch of the law. Lawyers specializing in cryptography will likely concentrate on legislations related to how information is encrypted and the legality surrounding the means and instances in which information can be obtained. The field of cryptology law is gaining attention as high-profile cases, like the recent FBI-Apple encryption dispute, highlight the issues surrounding personal rights versus national (and international) security.

5. Transgender Law
This is another area of the law that has had a lot of recent media attention. Gender and sexuality are, perhaps, the greatest civil rights issues facing our generation and the laws surrounding marriage, gender identity, discrimination, self-expression, public access, and health care are evolving rapidly and make a big impact on society. Lawyers who specialize in gender and transgender issues will find themselves embroiled in a variety of cases ranging from civil disputes to criminal cases and beyond. There are opportunities for careers in both legislation and private practice, and while the field is not an easy one, the fast-paced and ever-changing nature of the field makes it an exciting challenge for lawyers who want to apply their skills to making a real difference in society.

3 Tips for Adaptation to a Brave Legal Studies World

The field of law is not the same today as it was 50, 25 or even 10 years ago. Perhaps of even greater note? It won’t be the same a decade from now as it is today. Let’s take a closer look at some of the changes impacting the law industry, along with highlighting three tips aimed at helping aspiring lawyers navigate these challenges toward successful, sought-after careers.

A Changing Landscape
Many factors are transforming the face of law. Leading the pack? Technology, which is playing out across everything from the automation of standard legal tasks to disruptive technologies aimed at increasing the efficiency of case management and back-office tasks. Just how significant is the potential impact of technology on the legal sphere? The Boston Consulting Group suggests that legal-technology solutions may perform as much as 50 percent of the work currently being done by junior lawyers.

As if this information isn’t ominous enough, consider the latest law school employment data from the American Bar Association revealing that the legal job rate for 2015 grads is just 59.2 percent. That means more than 40 percent of last year’s law school grads have yet to land full-time gigs a full 10 months after receiving their law degrees. So while law careers are often cited among the most lucrative professions, earning that high paycheck relies on one huge factor: getting a job in the first place.

The good news? Not only have legal job rates been rising at a steady albeit slow rate for the past four years, but job-minded law students can also take some steps to position themselves for success.

Three 21st Century Law Studies Tips
Just because the landscape of law is changing doesn’t mean there’s no room for you. In fact, lawyers who are ready, willing and able to think outside-the-(jury)box may end up with their pick of plum positions. The following tactics can help.

1. Know the Value of Niche
When it comes to “future-proofing,” equipping yourself with unique experiences and skills can position you not only to land a legal job, but to take on a leadership role in shaping the industry’s future. Adopting a commercially savvy outlook while keeping your own interests in mind can help.

Lawyers Weekly shares the example of business/law student Shaun Chung, who suggests parlaying passion into expertise which is transferrable to law. His advice? “Go out beyond the legal industry. The most important thing is not to silo your perspective to a legal perspective [alone].”

But tech is far from alone in its up-and-coming status. Privacy, environmental and health care are all among the hottest areas of practice for lawyers today.

2. Count on Connections
In the digital age, it’s easy to overlook the value of human networking. The ability to call on everyone from peers to innovators in the field can help aspiring lawyers both identify growth areas and position themselves to move into them. Says Chung, “If I had an emerging interest in artificial intelligence, I would talk to a technically gifted computer scientist, but also go out and see what people are actually doing to commoditise legal service.” Attending industry events, meanwhile, can yield further insights into upcoming issues in the space.

Don’t wait to start your networking until after graduation, however. From connecting with people on LinkedIn to attending alumni events, there are near-endless ways to rub digital elbows in our social age.

3. Accept that Flexibility is Marketable
One caveat worth noting about the data shared by the American Bar Association? These figures apply exclusively to full-time work. Willingness to consider other types of positions, such as part-time jobs and temporary gigs, can be a great way to get a foot in the door and/or gain real-world skills until you can land something full-time or permanent.

Geographic flexibility is also key. Law is dynamic; it ebbs and flows across areas of practice as well as areas of the country. Looking for a job in the legal-tech space? You’re more likely to find it in Silicon Valley than in a seaside resort town. Hoping to take over a small, private practice? Casting a wide net and being open to whatever comes your way can lead to the position of your dreams in an unexpected location.

The overall takeaway when it comes to the future of law jobs? While traditional careers may be harder to come by, there are plenty of opportunities for next-generation lawyers who understand the changing market and position themselves to step into critical positions as they arise.

5 Reasons to Learn About The Law Abroad

Foreign language studies may come first to mind when you think of potential international study options. But there’s plenty to gain from traveling abroad to pursue other subjects, as well. One lesser-known but equally promising field when it comes to studying abroad? Law. From undergraduate semesters abroad to graduate-level degree programs, there are plenty of options when it comes to legal studies. Let’s count down six reasons why studying abroad is a smart thing to do for contemporary law students.

1. It will broaden your mindset — about the law and in general.
Legals systems vary from country to country. In studying law abroad you won’t just gain knowledge of the law in a different country, but you’ll also develop a broader perspective of the law at large. Instead of merely understanding law studies within the context of a single country, you’ll acquire a “big picture,” boundary-free viewpoint which will prepare you to take on a variety of global challenges.

Acquiring this skillset won’t just benefit you as a future lawyer, but also as a global citizen with the ability to think creatively — a trait increasingly sought-after by today’s employers, including everyone from law firms to non-profits to corporations.

2. You’ll be a better business person in today’s global economy.
Not everyone goes to law school to become a lawyer. Whether you’re interested in practicing law for a multinational firm or planning to apply your newfound expertise in the region’s law to a career in business, studying law abroad will vastly enrich your profile. Today’s economy is increasingly global. Students looking for an edge in this dynamic marketplace are likely to find it in commercial law studies abroad.

Other areas where international law studies make particular sense? International criminal law, and human rights law — each of these branches of law is uniquely international in nature.

3. Different countries offer different specialities.
Thinking about going into a particular area of the law? If so, different countries have different things for offer. For example, if you’re interested in technology and law, the US has many programs aimed at nurturing the skills you’ll need to navigate a career in this red-hot field. Switzerland, meanwhile, is a terrific destination for students leaning toward careers in banking and financial law.

4. You’ll gain country-specific expertise.
While pursuing law studies abroad gives you a more comprehensive understanding of the law, it also offers the opportunity to hone your knowledge of a specific domestic legal system. If you’re planning to work as a lawyer in a specific country — or to work for an organization with an interest in that region of the world — than studying law there will give you a serious inside edge.

Studying law in the country where you plan to practice is also important from a logistical perspective. Depending on the country, becoming a lawyer requires certain requisites and qualifications. Studying abroad can help you better understand those expectations and get on the path toward achieving them.

5. Plenty of scholarship funding is available.
If you’d love to study law abroad but are concerned about the cost, there’s no need to cross it off your list yet. In fact, a number of scholarships exist for law students looking to internationalize their legal studies.

A great place to start? QS Law Studies’ roundup of “Law School Scholarships Around the World.” This comprehensive list includes funding for students from all over the world pursuing law studies at levels ranging from undergraduate to postgraduate.

Additionally, checking in with your home university can yield other potential funding opportunities — all aimed at helping students just like you benefit from international law studies.

Why All Legal Students Should Do Pro Bono Work

While earning a decent salary may not be your sole reason for pursuing a law career, it probably factors into the equation. And you most certainly didn’t plan on working for free — which makes the pro bono concept a challenging one to understand at first glance. Drill down further, however, and doing pro bono work starts to make sense — both from a professional and personal point of view. Let’s take a closer look at the topic, along with highlighting five reasons why pro bono work is a worthwhile investment.

What is Pro Bono?

Derived from the Latin phrase pro bono publico, or “for the good of the people,” pro bono refers to “legal services performed free of charge or at reduced fees for the public good,” according to The Balance.

Pro bono services typically assist people from underserved and marginalized backgrounds — including children and the elderly — who can’t afford legal representation. In addition to providing free legal advice, pro bono also comprises volunteer work for organizations relating to the law.

Why Pro Bono Matters

These services are desperately needed: more than 40 percent of poor households in the U.S. experience at least one legal problem annually, according to the American Bar Association. And yet civil legal aid falls woefully short when it comes to meeting these needs.

This work is so important, in fact, that the American Bar Association dictates that every lawyer has a “professional responsibility to provide legal services to those unable to pay.” Its recommendation? All lawyers should aspire to provide at least 50 hours of pro bono work per year.

What’s In It For You?

While it’s easy to think of pro bono work in terms of the help it provides to others, law students also have plenty to gain from taking on pro bono work, including the following five benefits:

1. It Strengthens Your Skills

Sure, you’re amassing plenty of theoretical knowledge in the classroom, but wouldn’t you like to start putting that knowledge to work in the real world? Law students who take on pro bono work participate in a broad range of legal functions — from conducting client interviews to honing their legal writing and drafting skills. Meanwhile, “soft skills,” like communication, organization and time management, also get a valuable boost.

2. It Looks Good on a CV

Given the abundance of skills learned in the field, the impact of pro bono work on your resume is hardly a surprise. In fact, as reported by LawCareers.Net, one study reveals that approximately 80 percent of HR executives at top law firms are particularly impressed by candidates who have done pro bono work. Just how impressed are they? Pro bono work trumps paralegal experience as well as additional qualifications when your CV is under review. The takeaway? Job-minded law students can gain a critical leading edge by prioritizing pro bono work.

3. Networking Opportunities Abound

Pro bono work is a great way to make connections, including with everyone from other law students to legal professionals currently working in the field. These relationships will stay with you throughout your career.

If you’re aiming to ultimately work in the public sector, meanwhile, the people you meet during your pro bono work can later serve as references — both regarding your practical skills and your commitment. Not to mention that when it comes to enhancing your reputation, there’s no better way to make yourself look good than by volunteering your time to people in need.

4. You’ll Discover Potential Paths

Criminal law may be the most widely known area of law, but there are many fields to explore. And while reading about them in textbooks gives you some idea of what to expect, there’s no substitute for first-hand experience. Find something you love? Pro bono work lays the groundwork for future opportunities in this field.

5. Doing Good Feels Good

We’ve already established that doing pro bono work will be your responsibility as a lawyer, but isn’t it also your responsibility as a human being? Factor in that student life can become very insular and all-encompassing, and many students end up completely forgetting about the world outside the classroom. Not to mention — when was the last time you regretted doing something just because it was the right thing to do?

As it turns out, doing for others doesn’t just feel good, it’s also good for you. From weight control to memory enhancement, volunteering has been scientifically linked with many health advantages. One study even ties volunteering to a 24 percent reduced mortality risk!

While pro bono work may on the surface seem counterintuitive to fast-tracking your career and paying back those student loans, the reality is that it’s an important part of becoming a better lawyer. Why wait until graduate when you can start making a difference — and reaping the benefits of doing so — now? For more information on pro bono opportunities, check out Pro Bono Net, a national nonprofit organization dedicated to increasing volunteer lawyer participation.

Four Top Tips for Landing a Law Internship

If you’re planning on a law career, there’s no better way to get a real-world feel for the practice while simultaneously increasing your marketability as a job candidate than by interning at a law firm. Read on for four tips aimed at helping you land an internship while taking a giant step in the direction of your professional goals.

1. Assess Your Options

All law internships are not created equal. In fact, there are many different kinds of legal internships and clerkships available within the state, federal, corporate and nonprofit sectors, each offering different advantages depending on your career plans.

Before you even begin looking for an internship, take time to consider which areas of law are most of interest to you. Even if you end up shifting your focus later, choosing an internship in an appropriate area can help lay a solid foundation as you’re building your law career.

If you’re looking to strengthen your knowledge of a particular aspect of law or to develop a particular skill or skillset, meanwhile, the right internship can help you fill in gaps and/or gain expertise.

2. Show Your Stuff

Law firms don’t just let anyone through the door. They’re looking for the very best candidates with the potential not just to contribute in the short term, but who also might become full-time associates with the firm some day.

The best way to make an excellent first impression? Spend ample time on your application. This begins with an honest assessment of who you are, what you’ve done, and what you’re interested in doing. All of this information should make itself into your application in a concise yet compelling way.

A well-executed CV can be an invaluable marketing tool so make sure yours showcases everything you have to offer. (Just make sure it does in in two pages or less!) Crafting your CV doesn’t just mean cramming a bunch of information about yourself into a single document. Rather, it’s a strategic process which will allow you to feature your unique selling points. Yes, honesty is important, but so is being smart. Make sure to highlight your greatest achievements, such as leading university credentials, an excellent GPA, relevant experience — all of which are distinguishing factors with the power to separate you from the crowded field of applicants.

Not sure whether your application and CV will make an irresistible impact with their hiring committee? Stop by your school’s career center to learn about resources designed to help job-seekers polish and perfect their application materials.

3. Network, Network, Network

By now you may be tired of hearing about the importance of networking. But there’s a reason why it comes up so much: It works.

In a world in which who you know matters almost as much as who you are, getting a foot in the door often comes down to having the right connections. This doesn’t mean your grandfather has to golf with the president of the firm. But it does mean thinking of every person with whom you interact as a potential letter of reference or introductory phone call. Even if networking doesn’t directly result in your landing the internship of your dreams, talking to people in the legal profession can help you derive a better understanding of the profession at large and where you’ll best fit into it.

Your university’s career center is a great starting point when it comes to building your network. Attending alumni gatherings, mixers and other school events can help you get your name and face out there. Reaching out to law professionals in your desired field can also be successful; while they’re busy with their own careers, they can also remember being exactly where you are now.

Still coming up short? Consider using an internship service. While this will cost you, it may make up for it in connections.

4. Follow Up

One of the most common mistakes made by prospective job applicants? Failing to follow up after the interview. Sending a thank you note isn’t just about being polite — although that matters, too — it’s also about demonstrating your continued interest in the position. In addition to conveying a warm thank you, your thank you note or email should reiterate your interest in the position while incorporating specific details related to your interview experience.

Think of it this way: Given the choice between two otherwise equal candidates, is a hiring committee more or less likely to hire the one who shows initiative by sending as thank you note or the one who fails to follow up?

One last thing to keep in mind? While landing a law internship is cause for celebration, what you make of that internship ultimately depends on you. Will the experience end up merely as a new line on your CV, or will you make a real contribution while you’re there? A proactive attitude can help you hit the ground running in order to start amassing the practical skills and professional relationships you’ll need not only to ace your internship but to position yourself for a successful law career.

5 Bona Fide Legal Truth

“At his best, man is the noblest of all animals; separated from law and justice he is the worst.”  Aristotle makes a compelling case for why we need good lawyers.  So do we.  Although not as erudite as Aristotle, we have a few thoughts to share with you on the subject.  Some truths you might want to consider.  Some truths that you otherwise might not find entirely undeniable.

1.       We practice, practice, practice.

Practice: the sine qua non of law. It’s too bad we can’t wave our magic legal wands and poof—we memorize all the laws and know how to apply them with finesse.  No, the only magic involved in achieving rock-star status at something is practice. With the exception of an elite few, the most intelligent among us can’t play a piano concerto just by listening to it once.  Talented athletes on professional teams still attend “practice.”  A medical doctor works in a “practice.” To understand and apply the law, we need to practice.  We practice reading legal texts, writing briefs and exams, and memorizing details.  We practice over and over and over again.  We practice so that we not only know the laws, but we understand them, can apply them, and be the best lawyers we can be.

2.      We feel overwhelmed.

Our first year of law school feels like we’ve been dropped off on a beautiful, but entirely foreign island with no food or water, and only a paperclip, a pipe cleaner, and a few useless phrases of the local language—and then been told to find a way back home.  Alive.  We don’t understand the landscape, we don’t know the local culture, and we have no idea what to do with the resources we’ve been given.  Sometimes we panic, but eventually, we figure it out. We even make friends along the way who feel the same way we do, and the landscape of law starts to feel a bit friendlier… and less life threatening.  We gain the confidence we need to be great lawyers—and remember that we can still have personal lives and families.

3.      We take too many notes…

Because we like notes.  We love them. We take lots of notes in our first year, especially.  They make us feel safe–but they don’t help us that much.  Here’s why taking too many notes is a bad idea: they don’t teach us how to think. And that’s what law school is all about—how to think about the law, how to apply it, and understand its essential principles.  In class, we learn how to apply the law—which we need to learn how to do as lawyers.  Taking notes on applying the law won’t help us though.  What we need to do first is this: learn the law.  Memorize it.  Notes won’t help us do this.

4.      We’re nosy. 

Mostly because we’re competitive.  We notice things.  Try walking into class wearing a new suit. What we say: “Oh, that’s a nice suit.  Is it new?”  What we mean: “Where’d you come from?  An interview?  With whom?  Who set it up for you?  When?  Are there any more positions?”  Remember the cafeteria in high school?  We know where you sit, who’s at your table, what you’re wearing, and who you talk to.  We also know what you like to eat.  Because we’re nosy and we’re ok with that.

5.      Sometimes, we go on Wikipedia, and then pretend we didn’t. 

Life is too short to read a long case we don’t understand.  Sometimes, we just need a summary.  Sometimes, Wikipedia has exactly what we need, but we won’t admit it in public.  We’d plead the 5th in court.  Because we know all about the 5th.  We’re law students.  Sometimes, we use Wikipedia’s links, so we don’t feel as guilty for using Wikipedia at all.  Because it’s possible that we would have found Wikipedia’s links without Wikipedia anyway.

Have You Considered the Laws in the Performing Arts?

The world of the performing arts is entertaining, creative, enriching and beautiful. But this world doesn’t exist on its own. There are many forces at work which help artists, performers and other creative types do what they do. One significant factor in sustaining the performing arts industry? The law. Let’s take a closer look at the intersection of law and the performing arts, along with highlighting a few reasons to pursue law studies in this fascinating and fulfilling area.

What are the Performing Arts?

According to UNESCO, “The performing arts range from vocal and instrumental music, dance and theatre to pantomime, sung verse and beyond. They include numerous cultural expressions that reflect human creativity and that are also found, to some extent, in many other intangible cultural heritage domains.”

While the performing arts are, indeed, diverse, they share one overarching thing in common: Unlike movies, television and the recording industry, they’re typically performed in front of a live audience. And much like the entertainment industry at large, legal issues do arise along the way. Enter performing arts law.

The Performing Arts and Copyright Law

One of the most important aspects of performing arts law pertains to copyright laws. Simply put, copyrights protect original works of authorship from prohibited or unauthorized use. While musicians are most likely to be victims of copyright infringement, it can occur across the full spectrum of the performing arts.

Consider Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Broadway smash Hamilton. You’ve been living under a rock if you’ve somehow managed to miss the mega-buzz over this hip-hop rock opera based on America’s founding fathers. The show was sold-out for months; took home 11 Tonys and a Grammy in 2016; and at its heyday commanded an average resale ticket price of $1,300.

But Hamilton would never have come to be — at least not in its current incarnation — without copyright laws. In creating Hamilton, Miranda pulled heavily from both the musical theater and hip-hop cannons, paying homage to everything from The Pirates of Penzance to the Notorious B.I.G. with his innovative lyrics. But why was Miranda spared from being prosecuted for these “references” while Pharrell was penalized for doing a similar thing when he “borrowed” from Marvin Gaye’s “Got to Give It Up” for “Blurred Lines?”

As pointed out by intellectual property litigator Lawrence Iser in a piece he penned for Forbes, the difference largely comes down to copyright law. Says Iser of Miranda’s artistic process, “When drawing on inspiration, [Miranda] gave credit where credit is due. When copying a lyric, he asked for and received permission. And when necessary, he obtained a license (a license called a “Grand Rights” license is required to use another’s musical composition in a stage play). Not only are none of Miranda’s sources of inspiration or lyrics suing Miranda, they are lining up to praise him (and presumably for tickets).” In other words, Miranda was protected because he honored the laws protecting the people and works he drew upon when writing Hamilton.

But Hamilton is just one of many examples of the intersection of copyright law and the performing arts — beginning from the millisecond an idea is conceived and continuing throughout all of its performances until a work enters the public domain.

A Rapidly Growing Field

While performing arts lawyers have always been in demand for their services pertaining to everything from royalty issues to libel and slander, the evolution of technology is presenting new challenges and opportunities — especially in the area of copyright law.

As intellectual property specialist Dr. Eleonora Rosati told The Guardian, “IP law, particularly copyright, has boomed over the past few years. The most innovative companies are all heavily IP-focused, and in the creative and technological sectors in particular, the understanding and enforcement of copyright have become key to the growth of certain businesses….A student who wishes to acquire commercial awareness would find the study of copyright law extremely useful for his or her professional development.”

In fact, more than 50 top London law firms now specialize in intellectual property, with plenty of other in-house opportunities available, as well, according to The Guardian. And while many of these are tech-based, others focus on the performing arts.

Real-World Applications in the Creative World

When many people think of careers in law, the word “stuffy” comes to mind. And while there’s no arguing that in order to be a good lawyer you need foundational knowledge of the law (some of which will, inevitably, be “stuffy”), many of those who choose to study performing arts law do so because the practice of performing arts law is very much rooted in the real world. As one recent graduate told The Guardian, “My studies gave me an awareness of why the law should be appreciated by all, not just lawyers.”

For people who are creatively inclined, meanwhile, working in this field means unique immersion in the performing arts world in the form of opportunities to work with everyone from choreographers and composers to ballet dancers and Broadway producers.

And of course, many top law schools are located in or in close proximity to performing arts meccas, with schools like theUniversity of Southern California Gould School of Law, Brooklyn Law School and Fordham University School of Lawoffering programs for students interested in pursuing law careers specializing in entertainment and/or performing arts law.

Will you be working alongside the next Lin-Manuel Miranda as he brings his genius to life on stage?  As a lawyer in this field, you won’t just be practicing law, but you’ll be playing an important role in supporting the visionary work of the world’s next generation of performing artists and creative innovators.

4 Reasons to Recognize Law as a “Mature” Student

Thinking of going back for your law degree after some time off from your undergraduate studies? The idea can be a daunting one, but you’re hardly alone. In fact, you may be surprised to learn that even at that ripe young age of 21, students are categorized as “mature” by many law schools. (Others categorize applicants as “mature” if they’ve been out of the classroom for a certain number of years.) It follows that there are many different types of mature students — from those who are just a few years out of school to those who have been out for decades. Regardless of your particular circumstances, attending law school as a “mature” students has some oft-overlooked upsides. Here’s a closer look at four of them.         

1. Law schools are looking for diversity.

Law schools welcome people of all ages and backgrounds to their programs as long as they have the skills deemed necessary for success — both academically and in the legal profession. And while some mature law grads do experience age discrimination, it is not usually part of the admissions process. In fact, many law schools view mature learners as particularly well-equipped for success in law school, thanks to the breadth and depth of real-world skills they’ve likely acquired from their time outside of the classroom.

The takeaway? What you fear might be a handicap in the application process may actually be viewed as an advantage by law schools.  In other words, it’s all a matter of perspective. Reframing your mindset may be an important part of presenting yourself as exactly the kind of applicant admissions officers are looking for.

2. You’ll be surer of your career goals.

You might be late to the law school party, but you’ll almost certainly be showing up more prepared than the other guests. According to The Independent, mature students should spend less time worrying about whether they’re up to the task and instead give themselves more credit for what they do bring to the table. Not only can mature students’ “zeal and dedication” give them the inside edge, but they also “tend to be more focused, with better problem-solving skills, more independent and better able to articulate original ideas” than their younger counterparts.

According to one administrator as reported by The Independent, “Because mature students tend to be so highly motivated, they are an extremely successful group. If they start with fire in their belly, knowing what they want out of a course, they are better able to deal with the ups and downs that are inevitably part of studying at this high level.”

3. Today’s programs are more flexible.

Whether you were in school five years ago or 25 years ago, you’re likely to find that your options have grown exponentially since then. Part-time, flexible day and evening, and a relatively new breed of half online/half on-campus options increase the likelihood that you’ll find a program suited for your unique scheduling needs.

4. You won’t have to do it alone.

It can be easy to fall into the trap of thinking of familial commitments as a liability while juggling school and your personal life. But the truth is that the relationships you’ve built as a mature student are actually assets. After all, who better to support you in your return to school than your biggest fans?

Additionally, many law schools are now going out of their way to support mature students in connecting with each other and with their law school communities. From peer mentorship programs which pair incoming mature students with similar second- or third-year students who understand what they’re going through to counseling services and other resources aimed specifically at students returning to school or pursuing second careers, most mature students have an unexpectedly strong safety net to help them on their journey.

No one’s going to tell you that attending law school as a mature student is easy, and certainly there are some obstacles involved — from acclimating to new technology in the classroom to dealing with age discrimination after you graduate. But not only are all of these challenges surmountable, but mature students are uniquely qualified to overcome them.

One last thing to keep in mind if you’re on the fence about going back to law school? As with many things in life, you get out of law school what you put into it. Most insiders agree that mature students are the most likely group to put the most into it. The takeaway? They’re also positioned to get the most out of it.

Internship Offers a New Route to the Legal World

Did you know that the route to a career in law doesn’t necessarily have to involve attending law school? In the UK as well as in certain US states, legal apprenticeship offer a lesser-known approach aimed at supporting social mobility and improving diversity within the profession. Whether you’re looking to qualify as an actual lawyer or to train for a career as a legal administrator or paralegal, a law apprenticeship may be the key to a bright future.

What is a Legal Apprenticeship?

A recent Financial Times article highlights an issue which has long plagued the legal industry: that the majority of trainees at the UK’s most prestigious law firms are culled from the country’s top universities. Furthermore, graduates of private schools are vastly overrepresented in the field of law. These figures aren’t exactly surprising given the fact that law school is expensive and time-consuming — two significant barriers to entry for students from less privileged backgrounds.

Legal apprenticeships attempt to level the playing field by providing an alternative entryway for aspiring lawyers. Rather than enrolling in — and paying for — three years of law school, apprentices can directly enter the workforce on a part- or full-time basis while at the same time preparing to qualify as a paralegal, administrator or even solicitor.

The hope? That introducing more legal apprenticeships will support increased diversity within the legal profession. Because of its profound potential, the UK government plans to create millions of apprenticeships — a proposal which won’t just benefits students, but also “brings a big opportunity for some of our large legal services firms” in the form of access to a much broader talent pool, according to Lord Chancellor Liz Truss.

According to FT, Robert Houchill earned the distinction of being the first paralegal to become a solicitor without a degree, thanks to the innovative Solicitors Regulation Authority’s (SRA) “equivalent means” requirement, which factors quantity and quality of work experience into the equation. The SRA is also moving toward completely overhauling the system through the introduction of a two-part Solicitors Qualifying Exam, designed to ensure that non-traditional students have the skills they need to work in the field while simultaneously helping students who did not attend top universities prove their worth, as well.

In the US, four states — Vermont, California, Virginia andWashington — allow people to become lawyers by “reading the law,” meaning they’ve worked and studied under a lawyer or judge for a certain amount of time. In these states, says The New York Times, “Aspiring lawyers can study for the bar without ever setting foot into or paying a law school.” New York, Wyoming and Maine, meanwhile, aspiring lawyers can qualify through a combination of law school and a legal apprenticeship.

Five Benefits of Legal Apprenticeships

Legal apprenticeships come with a number of incentives, including the following five benefits:

1.    You can bypass law school (and the entire law school application process) and instead enter the legal profession straight out of secondary school.

2.    You’ll bypass the cost of law school while immediately starting to earn a salary. Additionally, your employer may cover any related academic or training fees.

3.    You’ll learn at your own pace while gaining practical experience and an understanding of the inner workings of a law practice.

4.    You’ll have an inside edge with employers looking for workers with real-world, hands-on experience. Not only that, but more and more UK firms are taking the government’s lead and launching legal apprenticeships.

5.    You’ll immediately start building connections with everyone from colleagues and clients to mentors and other professionals.

Concludes The New York Times, “At a time when many in legal education — including the president, a former law professor — are questioning the value of three years of law study and the staggering debt that saddles many graduates, proponents see apprenticeships as an alternative that makes legal education available and affordable to a more diverse population and could be a boon to underserved communities.”

However, it’s also important to keep some additional things in mind when considering whether a legal apprenticeship is right for you. For starters, if you’re becoming a lawyer just for the prestige and/or looking to acquire a position at an elite law firm or teach in law school, the lack of degree might be a downside. (On the flip side, if your goal is to be truly “in the trenches” helping community members in need, a legal apprenticeship may offer a more direct route to doing so.) Additionally, you may have limited mobility in the US due to the fact that many states do not allow legal apprentices to become practicing lawyers based on “reading the law.”