Entertainment Law

The traditional arguments against going to law school are: (1) there are too many lawyers and not enough jobs; (2) tuition and student loan debts are too damn high; (3) the high-paying or high-powered jobs are available only to the top students of the top schools; and (4) most “JD Advantage” jobs could have been obtained without a law degree.

The typical response to the above is something along the lines of, “That won’t apply to be because I’m going to put in the work and be one of the top students.” Now those of us who lived through law school might find this amusing and even ridiculous. But we can’t really blame them for their determination. We were their age once. Back then, the world was a playground and full of opportunities. If 0Ls today know all of the risks and can obtain a decent scholarship at least for the 1L year, then they should take a shot and see where they fall on the bell curve.

Today, I am going to talk about a few issues regarding law school and law practice that have not been discussed (at least extensively) amongst the law school critics. The issues apply to most students (even the top students) of almost every law school….

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Ed. note: Frank H. Wu is the Chancellor and Dean of the University of California Hastings College of the Law. He shares some of his thoughts about legal education and the legal profession here on Above the Law from time to time.

I recently visited with a group of young alumni who had excellent advice they would offer to themselves if they could travel back in time: that is, advice likely useful to students today. The three of them, all under forty, were associates ranging from junior to senior at an excellent firm in Century City, the development created from the Fox Movie Studios backlot that boasts the highest concentration of entertainment lawyers anywhere in the world.

As more recent graduates, they possess the street cred that professors lack. I agree with everything they had to say. And they displayed the sort of “on the one hand . . . on the other hand reasoning” for which law teachers are famous or infamous…

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Gwyneth Paltrow

* After forcing Solicitor General Donald Verrilli to acknowledge that the Affordable Care Act could force for-profit corporations to pay for employees’ abortions, Chief Justice John Roberts seemed rather pleased with himself. [New York Times]

* Sidley Austin just hired a major M&A heavy hitter away from General Electric’s legal department. Congratulations to Chris Barbuto. We suppose he can make it rain as outside counsel now. [DealBook / New York Times]

* Because there’s no time too soon for an ambulance airplane chaser, the beginnings of the first lawsuit lodged against Malaysian Air after Flight 370′s probable crash was filed in court yesterday. [Bloomberg]

* UC Hastings and Iowa are the latest law schools to offer 3+3 accelerated degree programs. What a great recruiting tool for Iowa, which recently saw enrollment levels plunge by 40 percent. [National Law Journal]

* One month after the internet exploded with rumors of Gwyneth Paltrow having an affair with entertainment lawyer Kevin Yorn, the star announced her split from her husband. Coincidence? [New York Daily News]

Lisa Kudrow

You really in real life bear no relationship to the character Phoebe, right?

Mark Baute, attorney for Scott Howard, while cross-examining “Friends” star Lisa Kudrow on the witness stand earlier this week. Baute accused Kudrow of “pretending to be dumb” and acting like her well-known character, Phoebe Buffay, during her testimony.

(Howard served as Kudrow’s manager during her time on the show, and claims he’s owed more than $1.7 million in residuals. A jury returned a verdict in Howard’s favor today.)

William Tell

On a Wednesday evening in January, William Tell, a 33-year-old 3L at USC Gould School of Law, was sitting in the backyard of the L’Ermitage Hotel in Beverly Hills, a few blocks away from his apartment, sipping a scotch and munching on a bowl of pasta. At the moment, Tell is the only law student in America who goes home to the woman on the cover of Cosmopolitan — he’s engaged to Lauren Conrad, the reality TV star-turned-lifestyle entrepreneur who is regarded by many, including Martha Stewart, as being something like the next Martha Stewart.

More than a decade before his stint as a figure of tabloid fascination, Tell’s first act was as a guitarist in early ’00s pop-rock band Something Corporate, a band that was playing stadiums, arenas, and late night television shows by the time he was 22.

Clean-cut and wearing a simple grey sweater and skateboarding shoes, Tell laughs a lot but speaks with a hint of careful distance. He makes clear that he guards his privacy and would not have consented to an interview with a publication whose focus was his romantic life. But I wanted to ask Tell mostly about his unique experience as a law student, so I connected with him on LinkedIn, emailed him to explain myself, and now here we are….

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The past year or so has been an epic period for snarky responses to cease and desist letters. We’ve seen hilariously irreverent responses to C&D letters telling off the likes of Starbucks, the American Bankers Association, and the Township of West Orange.

And now Hollywood celebrities are throwing themselves into the mix. Which “seriously out of control” young actor just got saucy over Twitter in response to a lawyer’s letter?

Here’s a hint: Is this kid Lawless?

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Bianca Levin

Mayor Senator Cory Booker has been in the spotlight for quite some time, and for very good reason. For the prestige-obsessed among us, his undergraduate degree is from Stanford, he attended Oxford as a Rhodes Scholar, and his Juris Doctor is from Yale. He saves both dogs and damsels in distress. To complete this near perfect package, he’s got dashing good looks. And yet, he’s still single… or at least we thought he was, until this morning.

Who is this rising political star rumored to be dating? She’s got beauty and the brains to match…

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Dzhokhar Tsarnaev

* “We’re in uncharted territory right now.” The federal courts made it through the first week of the shutdown, but they’re approaching “here be dragons” land in terms of funding. [National Law Journal]

* “It would be the most interesting case in decades.” Legal experts debate whether President Obama can ignore the debt ceiling for much longer. [New York Times]

* People are getting out of Biglaw while the getting’s good. Reed Smith’s global managing partner is leaving the firm for a general counsel gig after 13 years at the helm. [WSJ Law Blog (sub. req.)]

* Law firm leaders met to discuss how to empower women attorneys, and agreed it’s wise to parade them around in front of clients. Getting to work on those clients’ cases is another question. [Blog of Legal Times]

* No debacles here, contrary to past precedent: Kasowitz Benson poached two superior legal minds from NBCUniversal and welcomed them to the firm to open an entertainment litigation practice. [Bloomberg]

* Dzhokhar Tsarnaev’s lawyers want their client’s prison restrictions to be lifted and are raising a slew of constitutional claims. We think the members of his fan club are the only ones feeling sorry for him. [CNN]

Those working in the Biglaw world may think they’re living lifestyles of the rich and famous, but their prestige pales dramatically when compared to those working in the glittery world of Hollywood glamour. Let’s face the facts: rainmaking aside, being a behind-the-scenes ERISA or tax practitioner is nowhere near as fabulous as keeping Lindsay Lohan out of jail. Representing celebrity clients will catapult your name into the news and turn your practice into a household topic of conversation.

Those behind the entertainment law bar have worked with some of the most celebrated (and sometimes reviled) clients in the country, and in most cases, the world. Obviously, there should be some sort of a ranking to evaluate the top talent from this Hollywood throng of attorneys.

Luckily, the Hollywood Reporter has been in the rankings game for seven years, and this year’s list is no less entertaining than last year’s. Let’s check out the newly released list of the entertainment industry’s top 100 “power lawyers,” which we’ve dubbed the Hollywood 100….

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That’s leading man material, right there!

Garth Brooks had disappeared from the national radar for a bit. For those who missed out on the turn of the 21st century career of the popular crossover country artist, imagine Taylor Swift, but a guy, and capable of going 10 minutes without complaining about dating.

Well, the allegations of a new lawsuit against Brooks brought by his former business partner may shed some light on the fading of the country artist’s fortunes. The complaint alleges rank arrogance on the part of a singer who thought he deserved film stardom and couldn’t lower himself to star in a Spielberg film….

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