Monday, April 14, 2014

On Fashion Law...

Fashion Law. There’s a very high chance you laughed at that. It’s okay if you did. I understand. Just allow me to throw some facts at you:
(1) Fashion is a $300 billion industry…that’s just in the U.S.
(2) Fashion industry generates $58.2 billion in revenue…that’s just in L.A.
(3) Fashion industry accounts for about 168,400 jobs…that’s just in L.A. and Orange County.

Think about all the different types of law suits you’ve ever heard about—accidental injuries, assaults, bad service, stolen ideas, breached contracts, sales shams, the list goes on and on. Now think about all those lawsuits within the context of a $300 billion industry with millions of employees, millions of customers, millions of retail stores, and millions of factories.

If you didn’t appreciate fashion law or if you never really thought about it before, I hope this was a bit eye opening.

Loyola just held the very first Fashion Law Symposium in L.A. Lawyers, fashion designers, and students came together to discuss the leading issues in the fashion industry.

I attended with my cousin, who is a fashion designer and knows very little about the law. I was pleasantly surprised at how much my cousin enjoyed the panels. The speakers simplified complex legal issues and discussed matters practically. Best example during the technology and consumer privacy panel: malls now have networks that pick up all cell phone signals within the mall and track which stores each cell phone enters and how long that cell phone remains in a certain store! Stalkers much?! Well, it’s mostly legal. 
Bottom line, fashion law is a quickly and vastly growing segment of the legal industry, and it shouldn’t be underestimated. I’ll be the first to say that shoes, shoes, and shoes are my favorite part of fashion. However, the law that governs the production and sale of those shoes is a very close second. 

Friday, April 11, 2014

The Many Law School Personalities

Law School is filled with a medley of intelligent, ambitious individuals. Students come from a variety of backgrounds, educational focuses, and lifestyles. As I observed my surroundings in my first law school class, we all seemed like a clump of petrified humans. No one wanted to be the first to raise his or her hand, appear overly confident nor under-prepared. For such a diverse group of students, we all looked exactly the same.

However, second semester marked a drastic shift. In fact, the “personalities of law school” emerged. There are many interpretations about the kind of people you will meet in law school, and here is my own rendition.

The famous “Gunner” is a well-known character, almost every law student knows about. According to the very credible Urban Dictionary, the Gunner is “a person who is competitive, overly-ambitious and substantially exceeds minimum requirements.”  While we may have all experienced a Gunner or two in our past educational institutions, nothing is quite like the Gunner in law school. The Gunner is the person who promptly raises his or her hand as soon as a question ends and is often heard discussing the copious amount of notes they took in Torts, all the outlines they finished months in advance, or how prepared he or she already is for finals. I’m pretty sure I have even seen a Gunner or two bring camping supplies to the library during finals. The Gunner may extract a sense of self-consciousness in even the most confident of individuals.
On the opposite end, “The Mumbler” is the very bright kid who has so much to say, however we simply can’t hear The Mumbler’s hidden brilliance.  The Mumbler may be tired, nervous, or maybe he or she just has a quiet voice. However, when we look at the blank section in our notes, we know that The Mumbler was most likely responsible.

One of my favorite law school personalities is “The What-If Guy”. Torts and Criminal Law tend to bring out the What-If Guy in all of us. The What-If Guy is a creative individual who was probably involved in some creative writing in the past. He or she comes up with the most elaborate hypotheticals that are extreme and impracticable, but nevertheless, very entertaining. Everyone in class looks up from their as soon as we hear a sigh from the teacher and a cautious, “yes, What If-Guy, what would you like to add to the discussion?” We all know it’s time to brace ourselves for an epic hypothetical. For instance, the What If- Guys needs to make sure every base is covered by asking what if… “two cars are driving down the road, one driver [“D1”] has contracted with a rental car company, and the other driver [“D2”] stole the car from the neighbor, D1 was planning to murder D2, however D1 was drunk and crashed into a third party truck driver [“D3”], BUT THEN there was a bolt of lightning [“LB”] that hit D1, and then a gorilla [“G”] comes and kills D2, and then the master-mind [“MM”] of the initial murder appears and a tiger [“T”] pops out of the trunk and…wait what was the question?”

“The Debater” is another common personality in law school. Law students are all very outspoken and opinionated individuals and each and every one of us likes a good debate, especially in a favorite class talking about an interesting case. The Debater loves the topic or class and comes prepared to argue. At this point in class, everyone stops taking notes and eagerly watches the heated back-and-forth between the passionate Debater and his or her newest victim. It’s almost like a sporting event, law school edition.

And of course, “The New Law School Couple” emerges. During my first orientation, one of our speakers noted that most of us will break up with a current significant other and will most likely date someone in the school, or perhaps even in the same section [although we were also warned of this option]. Immediately we all looked around, sizing up our options. The speaker was more on point than we realized at the time. After spending endless hours in the library and in class together, it is inevitable a pair will spark a love interest. Unexpectedly, the day comes when a pair is holding hands, walks in late to an 8 am class together, and all the pieces come together; two students become law school official!! [It’s like Facebook official, but more serious].

 Lastly, every law school has the beloved “Class Clown.” Everyone loves the Class Clown. The Class Clown is witty, intelligent, and confident. He or she promotes all the outside events and is friends with everyone in the section. The Class Clown lightens the mood on test day, and reassures the rest of the section that we will get through whatever intense assignment is due the next day. The Class Clown brings us all back down to earth when we feel bogged down with endless reading and outlining. Everyone is thankful for the Class Clown for cracking a joke or two and making even the most serious of teachers let out a little chuckle.

Despite all the stories I’ve heard about the personalities of law school, what I realized on my own is that at one point or another each law student fills one of these personalities. Whether a student fills the role of the Debater in criminal law class because criminal defense is their calling, or The Mumbler in civil procedure because the difference between Subject Matter Jurisdiction, Personal Jurisdiction, and Venue is still a mystery. Or perhaps one embodies the Class Clown in contracts because he or she is “besties” with the contracts Professor. Either way, I have noticed an interesting evolution of first semester personalities into the more confident second semester personalities. Second semester displays the new found confidence in law students as we all start to find our niche in law school and adapt accordingly. It has been a fun journey watching myself as well as the individuals around me. After these eight months together, I’ve grown to know the “law school personalities” very well and really love my section. As much as I will be overly-joyed to complete my first year of law school, I am going to miss my goofy section and spending all day, every day with them!

Monday, April 7, 2014

Romanian Puppy Rescue Mission

As promised, I’m completing the story that began with my March 13, 2014, blog post (“Who are Loyolans?”).

On March 11, 2014, I greeted four dogs—all born on the streets of Romania—at LAX, along with Marilyn Vittone and Masumi Hara of Doggies911 Rescue (D911) and Nancy Janes of Romania Animal Rescue, Inc. (RAR).
The story, from my perspective, began after I rescued two homeless Romanian puppies (see last post). Once I moved back to Los Angeles and bought my own condo, I wanted to continue helping homeless dogs. That’s when I met Marilyn, the co-founder and vice president of D911. Over the next year, I fostered several dogs for her group, but I stopped after I adopted my second dog, Teddy, since my building had a 2-dog limit. Still, Marilyn and I had become friends, so we continued to keep in touch. Every now and then, when I stumbled upon a dog in need of a new home, Marilyn offered to help out.

Because I also wanted to stay updated on the plight of street dogs in Romania, I followed Nancy Janes and a couple of Romanian dog rescuers on Facebook. I learned that on September 25, 2013, the Romanian government legalized the mass culling of street dogs, something that was deemed unconstitutional back in January 2012.

The cull was legalized following a nationwide maelstrom, which resulted from reports alleging that a four-year-old boy was killed by street dogs (there’s still controversy regarding the truth behind these allegations). The media immediately painted street dogs as vicious killers. In reality, though, these dogs are far from “wild killers”—most would actually make smart, loving pets if given the chance.

Regardless, the street dogs’ image in Romania was irreparably damaged following the terrible tragedy, and around the country, the hunt for dogs ensued. Romanian animal lovers scrambled to save as many homeless dogs as they could; disturbing photos taken by rescuers popped up regularly on my Facebook feed.

On February 13, 2014, Mihaela Raducanu, a rescuer/vet student in Romania who works closely with RAR, shared some images of dogs in desperate need. One of the dogs, Sasha, was rescued as a pup and lived with a kind-hearted foster, Otilia, in the city of Tecuci, Romania. Sasha was born on the streets; before her rescue, she had survived as a stray with her littermate, who unfortunately did not make it.

Otilia later took on the care of 3 additional homeless female pups, all littermates. She had discovered them because of their cries—they had been discarded in a plastic bag by the road. One of the pups had broken free, but the other two were close to suffocation. They were so young, their eyes had barely begun to open. Otilia had found them in the nick of time. At Otilia’s home, the orphaned Sasha took the 3 littermates under her wing; even though she was only about 3 months older than the smaller puppies, Sasha assumed a very motherly role with them.
Because Otilia had several other homeless dogs and cats in her care, she frequently needed help. When resources were really low, Otilia made the heart-wrenching decision to relinquish some of the dogs in her care to the local public animal shelter. She went back to the shelter to visit her dogs, only to find them starving and aggressively combating each other for food. Heartbroken, Otilia took the dogs back and began the slow process of rehabilitating them.

Because Otilia desperately needed help, Mihaela stepped in to raise money for food and posted the animals’ photos online for adoption. That’s how I learned about Sasha and the 3 littermates—their photos were online for weeks with no fruitful responses from potential adopters. At first, I thought we might only be able to take on 2 small dogs for transport to L.A., but when Marilyn heard the story and realized that nobody had offered to adopt these 4 pups, she insisted on rescuing all 3 littermates and their gentle guardian, Sasha. The four had been fortunate enough to live continuously under Otilia’s care, since the time they were plucked from the streets, so they had become well-socialized not only with dogs but with cats as well. RAR had spayed and vaccinated them, so they were great candidates for travel.

Once the decision to take the dogs was finalized, we had to raise the funds needed to cover the dogs’ transport and vetting. We spent a few weeks networking and trying to garner online donations for the project. By the end of February, it seemed our fundraiser had hit a standstill, but on March 1, fate shifted. A generous donation rolled in from a prominent dog rescuer in Los Angeles.

We immediately went to work booking flights through a pet travel agency and figuring out transport from the town of Tecuci to the international airport in Bucharest. The rescuers in Romania contacted Otilia with the news—she was thrilled to hear that Sasha and the 3 sisters would live out their lives Angeleno-style!

Otilia’s farewell was bittersweet, and the dogs got a little carsick on the way to Bucharest, but once in the capital city, they received the first baths of their lives from happy volunteers. Dr. Corbu, a vet in Romania who works closely with Nancy Janes, prepped the pups for departure.

The overseas trip was long, but fortunately the pups had a potty break layover at the airport Pet Hotel in Amsterdam. On my end, the night before their arrival, I rushed home after my evening class to make welcome banners. Marilyn gave me the honor of naming the 3 sisters, so I decided to go with Disney princess names—Cinderella, Belle, and Jasmine. They were all living the fairy tale princess dream, so I found the names fitting.

At LAX, we—a party of Doggies911 Rescue volunteers, Nancy Janes and her husband, Rory (both of whom flew down from San Francisco just for the occasion)—enthusiastically greeted the four pups, complete with banners and dog treats. After a day-long process of clearing customs, we rushed them to the vet, so that they could get the necessary health clearances.
Since their arrival almost a month ago, I’ve had the pleasure of visiting the four girls on a handful of occasions and they are the liveliest, happiest, most adorable bunch of dogs. You would never guess they had such rough beginnings. It comes as no surprise that they’ve already received multiple adoption proposals.

Belle, the smallest, and Sasha have already gone to their new forever homes. The others have applications on file as well, but Marilyn is doing her due diligence and taking time to review each application carefully to ensure that these girls go to suitable, loving homes. We’ve all fallen in love with these goofy pups—it’ll be sad to see them go, but we’ll be comforted in knowing that they’ll be safe and spoiled. 
When all’s said and done, much of the response to our rescue story has been positive, yet some wonder why we would expend the money and energy to bring Romanian dogs to Los Angeles when there are plenty of dogs dying in shelters around L.A. Others raise an eyebrow and wonder why we care so much about street dogs in Romania when humans are suffering around the world.

I’d make the following points in response:

Public shelters over here have protocol to follow—the animals must be fed, their kennels must be cleaned routinely, they must be provided with shelter from the elements, the adoptable animals must be available for the public to view, and in the end, the unadopted animals are put down quickly and as humanely as possible. Don’t get me wrong—I don’t want to downplay the plight of dogs in shelters around Los Angeles and the country in general—it’s a serious issue in need of improvement and I wish with all my heart that everyone would consider adoption first. But with that said, public shelters in Romania provide little, if any, of the aforementioned resources and services—dogs starve, live in squalor, and the list goes on.

This is why we brought the 4 pups to Los Angeles. We saw the need; we realized what the consequences might be if we didn’t step in. And, we wanted to help not only the dogs, but also their foster, a commendable animal-lover, Otilia. Sasha, Belle, Jasmine, and Cinderella are now ambassadors of Romanian street dogs here in L.A., and I hope their stories will be told by their families for years to come.

The bottom line is: dogs don’t belong on the streets, but the long-term solution lies not within a massive, inhumane cull—as the population will eventually regenerate through continued pet abandonment and rampant breeding—but within education and spay/neuter programs. RAR, led by Nancy Janes, is spearheading this movement in hopes of combating the root of the Romanian street dog problem, with good Samaritans like Mihaela and Dr. Corbu championing the cause on the homefront. Marilyn and the rest of the D911 team continue to work tirelessly placing homeless dogs, including those with dire medical needs, with loving families all over Los Angeles. I’ve never been so proud to be part of a compassionate team—without the combined efforts of many, this unique rescue would not have been possible.

And with respect to why we help animals while humans continue to suffer, all I can say is: the suffering of humans around the world torments the conscience of animal rescuers as well. But we follow our passions and our areas of expertise. I believe that animals are our legacies; they are helpless in our wake. It’s our responsibility to address their suffering as humanely as possible. In the end, those who stand for good causes should commend each other’s efforts rather than judge each other’s missions. Every act of kindness—on every level, teaches compassion, and at risk of sounding totally sappy—makes the world a better place.

Friday, April 4, 2014

When law school and hobbies collide. [Fashion Law Symposium]

On Saturday, March 22nd, I spent a few hours on campus to attend a symposium put on by the Fashion Law clinic at Loyola.  The name of the symposium was “One Channel Does Not Fit All:  The Fashion Law Implications of Omnichannel Marketing.”

Let’s be real — I will be the first to tell you I am NOT interested in high-fashion (or even low-fashion, if that’s a thing).  My best friend is always on me about buying clothes that actually fit and spending time in stores that aren’t Lululemon.  So I didn’t go to this symposium because I want a career in fashion law.

I glanced at the different panel discussions and one of them — about the legality of influence and the laws governing disclosures for bloggers — really interested me.

I had to miss the panels before lunch (I teach a spin class Saturday mornings) but I showered quickly, threw on a business-y dress that passes for fashionable in my eyes (even though I’m pretty sure the peplum craze is  is pretty 2012), and headed over just in time for the lunch program.

Lunch was awesome for two reasons – first, it was catered by Joan’s on Third.  Second, it featured an interesting discussion between Bernard Campbell, co-founder of Fi3, and Crosby Noricks, Founder and Fashion Marketing Strategist at PR Couture.

One component of the discussion was whether or not there is a place for stores in this era of digital marketing.  Crosby emphasized that she thinks stores will gain importance again, but it will be about the experience as opposed to the products themselves.  Again, I had to think about this as it applies to my life — but there’s definitely something about the Lululemon experience that makes me willing to spend a little more as opposed to trudging through clearance bins at the Nike Outlet.

Crosby also commented on the prominence of social tools — like bulletin boards — on brand websites, and how brands like Free People are reacting to consumer behavior by encouraging the use of things like selfies and hashtags and integrating them into the in-store and online shopping experience.

After lunch was the panel I was most excited about  — the “Legality of Influence (Advertising & Disclosures).”

Moderator:  Oren Bitan, Attorney,  Buchalter Nemer
o Candice Hyon, Corporate Counsel of Marketing, Privacy, and Property at Forever 21
o Lauren Indvik, Editor in Chief,
o Stacy Procter, Staff Attorney, Federal Trade Commission
o Rey Kim, General Counsel and Senior VP, Legal and Business Development, HALSTON

I really enjoyed this panel because it was pretty much a direct convergence of my professional (ish) life with one of my passions – blogging/social media.

First, I found it interesting that the FTC governs bloggers. 

The FTC  is a civil enforcement agency.  It serves to protect consumers and to protect competition, and specifically focuses on policing unfair or deceptive acts.  Unfair or deceptive acts consist of:
o a representation/omission
o that is material
o and is likely to mislead the consumer [a reasonable consumer, not someone who is ingrained in the industry and should know that posts are sponsored, etc.]

Under Section 5 of the FTC Act, ALL material connections between bloggers and the advertisers/sponsor must be disclosed.  This applies to all types of blogs, and fashion bloggers are not exempt even though it could change the reader’s perception of them. Stacy suggested bloggers err on the side of caution and DISCLOSE material connections. Disclosures don’t have to take any specific form — they just need to be clear and conspicuous to the reader.

After the presentation, I chatted with some of my friends who are in the Fashion Law clinic and got to meet Professor Riordan and some other people who attended the symposium. 

I’m glad I checked it out – and I wish I could have made it for the entire symposium!  The Fashion Law Symposium was a great way for me to remember that earning a law degree will not pigeon-hole me to any one particular career path for my entire life.

Learn more about LLS’s Fashion Law Project here