Monday, April 13, 2020

Experiencing Law School

You may have heard me or someone else in my situation say “Law school goes by way too fast.” For a Loyola day student, it’s done in three years. For an evening student, it’s four years and you’re out those doors. Unless you already absolutely know what you’re going to do in life after law school (i.e. the kind of career you want, what area of the law you want to practice, solo practitioner or mid-size firm), it feels like there are so many different areas of the law, so many different things to try, and so many choices to make in so little time. Luckily, at Loyola, there are opportunities for you to have experiences and learn about different areas of the law while at the same time fulfilling graduation requirements (i.e. pro bono or experiential learning). Loyola offers several clinics and practicum that give you the opportunity to work with real-life clients and cases in an on-campus setting and also promotes application and participation in externships and field placements at various courts, companies, firms, start-ups, etc.

Now that I’m a 3L, here are some of the things I’ve been lucky enough to experience while at Loyola:

Loyola’s Project for the Innocence

I was fortunate enough to be selected and work as a clinical student for Loyola’s Project for the Innocence during my 2L. The clinic focuses on wrongful convictions and works toward building cases for those actually serving time in California’s prisons. Participation in the clinic is two-fold. There is a class-room component, in which we learn about concepts, procedures, and issues in the criminal justice system, and there is a clinic-component, in which we are each given two clients – one who is prospective and one is already an existing client. With regards to the existing client, we basically pick up where the last clinical student left off; we write letters, make visits to the prison, sort through evidence, go through court transcripts, meet with witnesses, etc. With regards to the prospective client, our job is basically to go through and evaluate all the information we have in the file and help our assigned supervisor determine if we are going to move forward with taking on the client and working on their case. By no means is it a piece of cake, but it’s definitely worth it being able to help someone and be their voice. During my time at the clinic, we actually secured the release of a client, and he actually came back to class and gave a talk about his experience, what he’s learned, and what he plans to do moving forward.

In addition to being able to give back and help make a difference for someone, the clinic also helped me fulfill my pro bono and experiential learning requirements that I need to graduate from Loyola.

Entertainment and New Media Concentration, Transactional Tract

Loyola offers different concentrations, including but not limited to immigration, tax, civil litigation, and criminal justice, that help you develop your interests in a particular area of the law and give you the fundamentals needed to be successful post-law school. I declared my concentration in transactional entertainment law at the end of my 2L after taking a couple entertainment related courses, experiencing other areas of the law, and finally coming to the conclusion that a career in entertainment law is what I want to pursue.

The entertainment concentration has two tracts, transactional and litigation, and both require students to take entertainment law, trademark law, copyright law, all three of which are considered the core entertainment courses. Both tracts also require the entertainment practicum, which I’ll discuss next. I chose transactional entertainment so other required courses I have to take include introduction to negotiations, business planning, business associations, and legal research for the transactional attorney, all four of which are important skills for an attorney in that field.

Furthermore, the concentration requires students to take a minimum of two electives in any entertainment and new media related course. I’m taking the “Art and the Law” seminar and the Advanced Torts this semester to meet the elective requirements. I chose to take the former because I don’t know too much about art law and thought it would be interesting to take a break from the traditional law school bar course. Additionally, it helps me satisfy my upper division writing requirement for graduation. I chose to take the former because it is a recommended bar course (always helpful because of our end goal of taking the bar) and because I really enjoy learning about privacy torts (i.e. misappropriation of identity and intrusion upon seclusion).

Entertainment Practicum

The Entertainment Practicum is actually a required course for the Entertainment Concentration, but it is not a traditional law school class. The course is structured in a way where students learn important entertainment law concepts (i.e. negotiating a writing deal or being an ethical professional) by reviewing documents and hear about what it’s like to be an entertainment attorney today from speakers. Speakers are usually alumni or friends of Loyola are working in almost every area of entertainment law, including but not limited to the film and television studios, talent agencies, record labels, and law firms. It is an insightful experience that allows students to ask questions about potential careers they are interested in or pursuing and get candid answers from those who presently have those positions.

Field Placement/Externship

Field placements and externships are opportunities to work in law firm, start-up, or court settings. Typically, students don’t get monetary compensation for these positions; rather, they get experiential credit for graduation and units. Field placements and externships also have a classroom component in which students submit timesheets and task journals from work, write reflections, and give presentations.

I chose to do an externship because it was required both by my concentration and my employer. I have been an extern at NuMedia Studios since the start of my 3L. They are located in Hollywood, CA on the Jim Henson Company Lot (think Muppets) and deal with a variety of different entertainment transactional and litigation issues. I always thought I would go into transactional law (think writing contracts and agreements) but my time at NuMedia has given me glimpse into the litigation side (think writing briefs and motions and actually going to court for them). I think having this kind of experience is especially important because it gives you an insight into a career that you’re potentially going to pursue after law school.