How to Pick the Right Law School for S&E Law

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Where the sun always shines, the stars are always bright and – more importantly – where the hub of the entertainment industry is located.

If you’re thinking about applying to law school, it’s likely that your dreams of becoming a movie star are on the back burner right now, but you can still be close to the action by becoming a sports and entertainment lawyer. Many law students aspire to break into the field, which combines aspects from intellectual property law, contract law, and employment law.

The appeal of S&E law is obvious. We grow up idolizing athletes and movie stars and spend much of our time following sports, TV shows and movies – who wouldn’t want to work in one of these areas, brushing shoulders with celebrities while they’re at it?

However, S&E law is a very niche area of the law, and the number of law students wanting to work in the field far exceed the number of positions available. So how can you pick the right law school, one that will help you get the coveted position?

Location, location, location. Not surprisingly, at the top of most S&E law programs, you will find several schools from California and New York, the capitals of the entertainment industry. Obviously, while going to those high-ranked, big-name schools is ideal, sticking around the same geographical area is beneficial even if that means going to a smaller school.

First, law firms are generally more receptive to taking in alumni of local schools, even those ranked lower than their out-of-state counterparts. Furthermore, by being located in or close to an entertainment hub, you will have more networking opportunities hosted by your school, law firms or even state and local bar associations. Attending those is important in any setting, but in such a competitive market the connections you make are invaluable.

Journals, clinics and classes. One way a student can signal a prospective employer that she is serious about her S&E law aspirations is taking on as much relevant academic or practical load as possible. A thorough research is important: The availability of S&E opportunities fluctuates wildly between schools, so you want to make sure that your schools has at least a few available.

As one might expect, UCLA School of Law offers three different entertainment law clinics, but many other lower ranked schools – Penn State Law for example – offer opportunities to get some practical experience in the field.

Similarly, joining the staff of an S&E law journal will expose you to the field’s legal theory and look great on your resume. Luckily, while journals in the field were few and far between even as recently as 10 years ago, now many smaller schools – especially in relevant geographical locations – offer these journals.

Thus, Southwestern Law School, a school of fewer than 1000 students, offers a Journal of International Media and Entertainment Law as one of only three journals the school publishes.

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