I am in law school so of course I am asked all the time, “What type of law do you want to practice?” When I first moved to NY, I said entertainment law. But I often explained it as a multidisciplinary practice or a variety of different types of law that encompass it. I now say I want to work in fashion and with fashion law. I get the same puzzled looks and further line of questioning — “What is Fashion Law?”
I still explain the multidisciplinary concept. Fashion law encompasses contracts, corporations and intellectual property (copyright, trademark, design patents, etc.). I also quickly mention the field is still evolving. The east coast, right here in NYC, already started to help develop this field and the study of it. But the west coast has also found its niche as well. I think with this trend of fashion law programs at law schools, the field will develop a clearer vision and maybe, just maybe, the confusion will start to clear up.
Fordham University School of Law launched the Fashion Law Institute, several years back and is the world’s first center dedicated to law and the business of fashion. The Institute offers training for the fashion lawyers and designers of the future, provides legal services for design students and professionals, and makes available information and assistance on issues facing the fashion industry. This program was founded by fashion law pioneer Susan Scafidi; she literally created the first fashion law course!
Most law schools are still in the earliest of stages when it comes to fashion law and that is just offering the course — Fashion Law. But when you are at a school that offers half a dozen fashion law-related courses, it makes the study, the practicality and really the field much more clearer; you can better understand and grasp what fashion law is. The courses offered are — Fashion Law; Fashion Law & Finance; Fashion Ethics, Sustainability, & Development; Fashion Modeling Law; a Fashion Law Practicum; & Fashion Retail Law. So right there you can see what else is encompassed by fashion law — ethics, business development, finance, retail, modeling, etc.
But one school on the map was hardly getting the message across. The west coast, Los Angeles to be specific, is now staking a claim to the development of fashion law. Loyola Law School, just this week, officially approved the launch of the school’s fashion law institute at its LA campus. LA also has a booming and thriving fashion industry, as is clearly seen in NYC, and so now LA will have its share of fashion-minded lawyers.
The Institute will allow law students the ability to get a certificate in Fashion Law by taking four fashion-specific courses. The focus will be on issues such as industry-specific contracts and law related to celebrity endorsements. Students must also take classes in related topics like intellectual property. The certificate will be available to the class of 2015. Courses already on line are — Fashion Law; Fashion Law Business Transactions; a Fashion Law Clinic; & Fashion Modeling Law. I’m unsure if these were already being offered, but I’m sure more courses will be added or further developed with the certificate now in play.
I am in love with this concept and Loyola will be encouraging exactly what I am doing right now — interacting with nonlawyers in the fashion industry and getting real world experience with emerging designers. Fashion law is growing and I’m sure in the next few years, more people will understand the practice better. Hopefully more institutes will continue to pop up, but it’s still great that so many other universities at least have fashion law as a course. More and more firms and attorneys are dedicating work to this field.
For me, wanting to work in this field, I am grateful that my school, New York Law School, offers Fashion law and most, if not all, of the intellectual property courses. It would be nice to have 1 or 2 more though! But I’m also thankful to have started my blog and really get out there to meet people in the fashion industry. I’m looking forward to the road ahead.