Southwestern Law Students Launch Entertainment Law Blog Through New Course
A course where surfing the Internet and blogging about Hollywood is not only encouraged but required? For Southwestern students in Entertainment Law and Web 2.0, that is the way to earn academic credit while honing both tech skills and getting a pulse on legal issues in the world of entertainment.
Through this unique, new eight-week mini-term course and follow up semester-long course, Adjunct Professor Craig Matsuda and Professor Michael Scott guide students in creating Biedermanblog.com, a website where participating students research, write and post on matters related to entertainment law and serve as editors.
"Many Southwestern students closely follow the latest legal developments in the entertainment industry," Professor Scott said. "The Biederman Blog lets them share their developing expertise in entertainment law with other law students, entertainment industry professionals, and everyone who is fascinated by Hollywood."
In the course, Professors Matsuda and Scott have concentrated on a few key elements: the vast changes in the dissemination of information due to technological advances and the burgeoning online world; how social media and tech advances have evolved into Web 2.0; and an examination of blogs and best practices for blogging about a topic like entertainment law.
Students researched and wrote possible blog posts based on real legal materials online, including appellate decisions, legal bloggers' posts and other legal actions and developments, such as state regulatory measures affecting the entertainment industry. They also conducted a mini-research project (to be published soon on Biederman Blog), in which they surveyed Los Angeles lawyers about their legal lives online to determine what sites they read every day, how much time they spend on the Internet, and what proves persuasive to them about materials they see online about the law. They received more than four dozen replies, including many from Southwestern alumni.
As a class assignment, students also consulted, pondered and drafted the plan for what became the Biederman Blog, named after the law school's Donald E. Biederman Entertainment and Media Law Institute. This scholarly endeavor also required them to pitch the project to a panel of outside experts and skeptics to test the viability of their planned project.
"The brevity of the course lets students dive into an online experience with only a little class study," according to Professor Matsuda, whose extensive journalism background includes two decades as a senior assignment editor at the Los Angeles Times. He explained the benefits of producing a blog. "It requires students to think critically, research and write more and to gain experience in how their work gets received in the real world. Bloggers, can, for example scour a world full of information, point others to neat things they find and discuss and comment on these - and to do this in an absolutely brief, concise and defined way, adding one more voice to the already many and varied in the online legal community."