Danny Kohler, who has always had a deep
appreciation for the arts, refuses to paint himself into a corner. He
studied at the Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, and though he liked working
with acrylic, he was too much of a realist to believe that he could make
a steady living as an abstract expressionist. "After finishing school, I
never made much effort to paint professionally," he said. "My focus
changed quickly into being able to actually make a living. I paint now
more for therapeutic value. I do it for fun."
With several attorneys in the family, Kohler's legal roots have always run deep, but he kept putting off law school. "Part of me wanted to blaze my own trail. Ultimately, I got led back to same path, but I had to arrive at it on my own terms." After earning a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree, he returned to Atlanta (where he had spent his teenage years) and worked a number of diverse jobs, from art teacher to cheesemonger. He spent four years as a production manager for a residential remodeling company, a position he really enjoyed.
But then the economy flopped and his father became ill. All signs pointed him toward Los Angeles and Southwestern, so he could spend time with his dad, David Kohler, who helmed Southwestern's Donald E. Biederman Entertainment and Media Law Institute until his death in October 2009. Kohler has no regrets about the path he has chosen. "I love the fact that I got five or six years to do my own thing, so that when I decided that I wanted to go to law school, I knew I could dedicate myself to it 100 percent," he said. "I also got to spend time with my dad. That was really important."
In fact, law school has surpassed his expectations. "There's a feeling of accomplishment in law that you don't get in another fields," Kohler explained. "Learning that I'm capable of a lot more than I thought I was has been the best part. That and the people at Southwestern; the faculty has been amazing, incredibly supportive, and the student body is fantastic as well."
Kohler found Professor Robert Lind's Copyright class particularly beneficial. As a staff member of Law Review, he wrote a note about copyright infringement, specifically inducement liability and the safe harbor provision of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. "Researching and writing that was an incredibly valuable and gratifying experience, another milestone in my legal education." He will serve on the executive board of Law Review next year.
Additionally, Kohler was one of three students selected as a Biederman Scholar, an opportunity that helped him land a position as a summer associate at Mitchell Silberberg & Knupp LLP. At this point, his fine arts background and natural enthusiasm for contracts and intellectual property seem to be steering him towards a career in entertainment law. The thought of staying in Los Angeles makes him happy as well.
Kohler spent the summer between his first and second year at Southwestern as a legal intern at Warner Bros. Entertainment. "It was great to get to work with so many talented and accomplished attorneys as well as all the other employees at the studio," he said. "Warner Bros is notoriously one of the most positive legal workplaces that you can hope to experience. Entertainment is what I've always thought I wanted to do and it was incredibly rewarding to get to see what that career looks like."