Southwestern is well connected to numerous entertainment and media companies, studios, guilds and law firms engaged in every aspect of the industry in Southern California and beyond, and involves representatives of these entities in all elements of the law school's entertainment and media law programs.
"My supervisor's policy of granting early responsibility to externs facilitated a challenging learning experience - I drafted my first international distribution agreement my second day on the job!"-Gretchen Wetig, Lionsgate extern
For more than 20 years, Southwestern has aggressively pursued opportunities for its students to gain experience through externships with companies engaged in the entertainment industries. Students are able to choose from dozens of different settings. These on-site placements give students valuable insight into the world of the entertainment lawyer, provide crucial networking opportunities and add immeasurably to a student’s skills and confidence.
In order to maximize the educational value of these experiences, students report periodically to faculty members, who also meet with personnel from the companies at which the externs serve.
Entertainment Law Firm Practicum
In conjunction with Southwestern's Externship Program, a limited number of students who have excelled in the entertainment and media law courses will be eligible for practicum placements within entertainment law firms. Students are selected by the director of the Institute for these law firm externships which have the same requirements as traditional externships plus an analytical paper based on an issue which arose in a dispute or transaction handled during the semester. The practicum program provides students with an opportunity to demonstrate within a private firm setting their superior training and abilities in the area of entertainment law.
The Biederman Blog
Through a unique eight-week mini-term course and follow-up semester-long course, students research, write and post on matters related to entertainment law and serve as editors for the law school's Biedermanblog.com. Students learn how the Internet in general, and blogs in particular, influence the practice of law. They are taught a wide-range of practical research and writing skills, with special instruction on blogs, blogging and social media, as well as how to structure their blog to make it a "go-to" online resource on entertainment and media law.
Journal of International Media and Entertainment Law
In Spring 2005, the Institute established the Journal of International Media and Entertainment Law, a joint venture with the American Bar Association's Forum on Communications Law. The first of its kind, the Journal will address all aspects of international and comparative media and entertainment law, including topics related to content, regulation, intellectual property, distribution, publishing, internet and technology and transactions. The board of editors is composed of Biederman Institute faculty and selected members of the Forum committee. In addition, Institute faculty select students to assist with various editorial functions. Published twice a year, the first issue is anticipated in late Fall 2005, with the second issue in the Spring 2006.
Interaction with Industry Leaders and the Community
Southwestern takes full advantage of its position in the heart of the entertainment capital by bringing guest speakers and visitors representing many aspects of the entertainment industry to the campus through a variety of programs and activities.
The Biederman Institute sponsors a "Conversation With..." series featuring prominent publishers, television and film producers, and senior counsel for entertainment and media enterprises, as well as public officials involved with the entertainment and media industries. The dialogue format allows the special guest to explore, with students and members of the legal profession, contemporary and sometimes controversial issues confronting the entertainment industry and the media.
Many faculty present in-class guest speakers, and Southwestern's very active Entertainment and Sports Law Society, Intellectual Property Law Society and Media Law Forum host full calendars of special lunch time or late afternoon lectures and panel presentations in which the views of diverse experts in these fields are presented to students.
Southwestern hosts the Southern California Entertainment Law Career Day each year. During this half-day event, hundreds of law students from throughout California come to the campus to hear panel discussions on such topics as an insider's view of an entertainment law firm, multimedia and on-line services, licensing and distribution, and the world of an agent or manager. The program also enables participants to network with executives from major television, movie and recording studios, law firms, and talent agencies.
The Biederman Institute regularly cosponsors symposia with the Intellectual Property and Entertainment Law Section of the Los Angeles County Bar Association. Recent programs have covered "The Big Picture: What Every Entertainment Attorney Needs to Know About Intellectual Property," "Hollywood Confidential: Critical Issues in Entertainment Law" and "The Art of the Deal, Hollywood Style. "Other conferences and seminars are hosted by the Institute in conjunction with the Los Angeles Copyright Society, the Media Law Resource Center, and other associations.
The Biederman Institute maintains contact with Southwestern's large contingent of Entertainment, Media, Intellectual Property and Sports Law Alumni and conducts continuing legal education courses for alumni and other practitioners in California and major cities throughout the world.
Representatives of the Biederman Institute also lecture extensively within the industry and at other educational institutions and meet with students interested in pursuing a legal education and careers in entertainment and media law. Other outreach efforts of the Institute include cooperating in the production of radio programming directed toward the broader entertainment/media audience.