Executive in Charge of Production, Judge Judy (CBS Television Distribution)
The Lawyer Behind America's Favorite Judge
by Lindsay Nelson '11
The Biederman Institute did not exist when Amy Freisleben '84 attended Southwestern. In fact, the only entertainment related offering was one very exclusive class taught by Donald Biederman himself. However, the lack of entertainment electives didn't hold her back. She has been a production attorney at CBS for the past fifteen years and is currently the Executive in Charge of Production for Judge Judy, the number one show in first-run syndication, averaging over 9 million viewers a day.
Freisleben was first hired as a production attorney for the show in 1998. She has continued working there in different capacities, most recently as the Senior Vice President of Business and Legal Affairs for CBS Television Distribution. In that role, she was in charge of all production related legal work for Judge Judy and Judge Joe Brown. This involves everyday production legal issues such as reviewing promotional material, website issues, clearances, litigation, and the traditional legal work that comes with handling actual small claims cases on the show.
At the end of 2012, Freisleben was promoted to Executive in Charge of Production for Judge Judy. She now oversees both the business and legal issues involved with the production of the show, which involves managing the budget, setting the production schedule, overseeing production management and post production, and handling research and travel issues. "It is essentially the day to day operation of the show," she explained. She admits that it is a lot of work, but she enjoys it.
Before starting her career in entertainment, Freisleben practiced general business litigation. She heard about an interesting job opening through a coworker at her last firm and so she went for it. "I just welcomed the new challenge," she said. "It sounded different and fun." Although her litigation experience is certainly beneficial in her entertainment career, she doesn't miss it too much (especially not the time sheets). "I was a litigator for many years before I started working as a production attorney and I have never looked back," she said.
However, she does look back fondly at Southwestern. She hadn't anticipated a career in entertainment when she was in law school, but now she is glad to see the development of the campus and Southwestern's entertainment law program. "When I went there, Southwestern didn't yet own the Bullocks Wilshire Building or have the Biederman Institute, so it's wonderful to see what has happened to the school," she said. "The best is yet to come for Southwestern."