The Hollywood Foreign Press Association generously supports Southwestern Law School’s Entertainment and Arts Legal Clinic for the 2018/19, 2019/20, 2020/21, 2021/22, and 2022/23 academic years.
680PR | 3.0 credits
Southwestern Law School was founded 110 years ago on two fundamental principles: First, law schools must embrace innovation. Second, quality legal education should be available to qualified individuals regardless of socioeconomic background or life circumstances. Today, Southwestern is a top ten school for Entertainment & Media Law, Music Law, and Diversity.
The Clinic provides pro bono legal services to independent filmmakers, series creators, writers, actors, legit stage producers, artists, and musicians. Students work on documentation of underlying rights (clearance reports and fair use analysis) and chain-of-title review, drafting shopping and commenting on and option purchase agreements, music agreements, personal services agreements for producers, directors, actors, other principal crew, location agreements, releases and other development and production related contracts. The Clinic also reviews sales, licensing, and distribution agreements. The students, trained by taking copyright and other entertainment law courses, do the legal work (including client correspondence) which is supervised and reviewed by a panel of 4 or 5 experienced practicing attorney professors.
Potential clients are solicited from entertainment film societies, arts organizations, film institutes and film schools. Students in the Clinic often refer friends or colleagues with projects in development. Several clients that have been referred by other filmmakers who have released films on which the Clinic rendered production services. All prospective clients are screened by the professors and some may be interviewed by the class prior to engagement. Students interact directly with the clients, though all legal services provided by the students are under the guidance and supervision of the professors.
Enrollment is by invitation only and applicants are notified by email about the application process approximately one month prior to the end of each semester. Those students selected will be enrolled for the following semester. Interested students should contact the Biederman Institute for more information.
Does your independent film need free legal services?
The Entertainment and the Arts Legal Clinic (“Clinic”) provides pro bono legal services to independent filmmakers, series creators, writers, actors, legit stage producers, artists, musicians, and other creatives.
The Work We Do
The Clinic works closely with its clients on the following types of legal matters, among others:
- Clearance work including title searches, trademark analysis, privacy torts considerations, and fair use analyses of unauthorized uses of third-party materials.
- Development Agreements such as Shopping / Attachment and Option Purchase Agreements
- Above and below-the-line Services Agreements for cast and crew, (e.g., producer, director, writer, composer, editor, cinematographer)
- Executive Producer Agreements
- Master Use and Sync Licenses
- Appearance, Location, and Materials Releases
- Certificates of Authorship / Engagement / Employment and Assignments
- Non-Disclosure Agreements
- Distribution Agreements
- Memorandums of Understanding
- Assignment Agreements
Our Focus on Diversity + Inclusivity
The Clinic focuses heavily on diversity and inclusivity by working with filmmakers and artists whose projects shed light on minorities, marginalized communities, and cultural or socio-political issues.
Some of the social justice issues that our clients’ projects address include the following:
- LGBTQ+ Awareness and Visibility
- Black Lives Matter
- Animal rights
- Environmental issues
- Veterans and the U.S. Military
- Gun Violence
- Fine Arts Education
- Other social justice issues
"I believe that my work in the Clinic prepared me for legal intern and law clerk positions while in law school, as well as made me a competitive candidate for postgraduate counsel positions in the field of entertainment law. Through my experience and connections at the Clinic, I received two postgraduate offers in the entertainment law field from an Entertainment Boutique Law Firm and a Network."
— Brynn Bodair, Former Clinician + Current Fellow (Spring 2021, Fall 2021)
"Working in the clinic has been a wonderful learning opportunity. It has given me hands-on experience working with clients. Additionally, it has allowed me to work with a team of clinicians to figure out the best way to serve the client. I’ve learned a lot during my time in the Clinic, and I’m grateful for the guidance I’ve received from professors and veteran clinicians."
— Krystina Cavazos, Current Clinician (Fall 2022)
"The Clinic provides an incredibly professional, collaborative, and supportive environment for students to experience what working at an entertainment law firm is like by allowing us to communicate openly with our clients and provide extensive advice and documentation for their many projects. The Clinic professors give us the freedom to draft complicated contract provisions and negotiate extensive deal terms while simultaneously preparing us for future employment opportunities."
— Jacob Halajian, Former Clinician + Current Fellow (Spring 2021 - Present)
"There are many legal facets to consider when you are working on a feature-length documentary that we didn’t know about. With the Clinic’s support and guidance, they provided the following customized items: producer agreements, a director agreement, appearance releases, crew deal memo agreements, cast agreements, and location release agreements. They also provided amazing professional-client engagement by answering all our questions through Zoom meetings, emails, and even a few after-hours phone calls. I can’t express how grateful we are for being able to work with the Clinic while learning about the process overall!”
— Shantel Hansen, Director, "Behind the Stripes"
"Thank you all so much for your tremendous labor in developing this updated contract for [our songwriter]. Thank you for receiving all our feedback and for massaging it into this new draft."
— Set Hernandez Rongkilyo, Director/Producer, "Unseen"
"My documentary team and I couldn’t be happier and more grateful for the partnership we have with the Entertainment and the Arts Legal Clinic at Southwestern Law School. This collective of courteous, super-smart law students, taught and overseen by experienced entertainment lawyer, Orly Ravid, has made the legal costs and requirements of preparing our documentary "Stranger at Home" for successful distribution a truly manageable experience. Their thorough Fair Use Analysis to help qualify our film for E&O insurance, their review of our music and visual licenses, and their willingness to review and advise on contracts — all gratis — have been such a godsend and a gift. They also happen to be really lovely people!"
— Beth Dolan/Producer/Co-Director, "Stranger at Home"