Grantee News

Southwestern Law School’s Entertainment And Arts Legal Clinic Funded By Golden Globe Foundation

June 24, 2024

Golden Globe Foundation


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.

For Filmmakers

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
  • Quitclaims

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
  • Healthcare
  • Disabilities
  • Immigration
  • Animal rights
  • Environmental issues
  • Veterans and the U.S. Military
  • Gun Violence
  • Fine Arts Education
  • Other social justice issues

Entertainment Institute

Southwestern Law School’s Biederman Institute is a leading academic center for the study of
entertainment, media, the arts, and sports law. The Institute trains students to become excellent
and creative lawyers through rigorous and unique courses, programs, externships, clinical
experiences, and other opportunities. Working with a law student population that is more than fifty
percent racially and ethnically diverse, the Institute is a pipeline to diversify the legal profession and
entertainment industry. The Institute actively seeks opportunities to advance social justice. Institute
professors publish in leading journals, write books, and present at conferences around the world.

Entertainment & the Arts Legal Clinic

Through the Entertainment & the Arts Legal Clinic, the Institute serves and advocates for talent,
writers, composers, producers, directors, rights-holders, and others who seek legal assistance
with their creative projects and affords students unique, hands-on opportunities to develop
critical lawyering skills. The Clinic serves approximately 30 clients each semester and has handled
hundreds of matters since its 2012 inception. Clinic projects include documentaries such as Mission
Joy (Tribeca Film Festival/Netflix), Pay or Die (SXSW/Paramount+), and How to Sue the Klan (Pan
African Film Festival), numerous scripted fiction films, and a podcast entitled Bathouse. The students’
names appear in the end credits.

For more information, visit:

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