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The Leading Music Law Schools of 2017

Courtesy of Fordham Law School

Exterior of Fordham University School of Law in New York.

Behind the success of every artist -- from the industry mainstays and chart-toppers to rising stars -- is a lawyer fielding the deals and disputes that are a constant part of today’s ever-evolving music business. With the rise of new business models and the growing dependence on brand licensing and streaming, attorneys are more important than ever. The scope of their legal expertise is also wider, moving beyond issues of contract law to questions of intellectual property in the digital age and social justice in entertainment.


Billboard's 2017 Top Music Lawyers Revealed, Led By Joel Katz

At which law schools do the top music counselors gain expertise? These 12 stand out as the alma maters of the majority of music’s most accomplished litigators.

Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law

City: New York Enrollment: 803 Tuition and fees: $58,764 per year

Cardozo’s FAME Center -- comprising fashion, arts, media and entertainment -- added new courses in 2017 in international intellectual property, intellectual property licensing and drafting, and negotiation in sports and entertainment to its roster of 20 other music business-related classes. The school continues to amp up its speaker roster: Clive Davis recently provided students with a detailed account of his career in an interview with Cardozo alumna Julie Swidler, executive vp business affairs/general counsel at Sony Music Entertainment.

Alumni: Jason Boyarski, partner, Boyarski Fritz; John LaBarre, senior counsel, Google

Brooklyn Law School

City: Brooklyn Enrollment: 1,099 Tuition and fees: $47,911 per year

Brooklyn Law offers both an entertainment law course and an entertainment law workshop, plus a certificate in IP, media and information law. Its Brooklyn Entertainment & Sports Law Society student group educates members on current legal issues in the entertainment industry and provides networking opportunities for members and alumni with an interest in entertainment law. The school also hosts entertainment business-focused events, such as a screening of A&E series The Killing Season, accompanied by a Q&A with filmmakers Josh Zeman and Rachel Mills.

Alumnae: Nicole George-Middleton, senior vp membership, ASCAP; Nneka Norville, senior public affairs manager, BET Networks

Cornell Law School

City: Ithaca, N.Y. Enrollment: 609 Tuition and fees: $63,242 per year

Cornell Law students can immerse themselves in a variety of industry-relevant courses -- from contracts to privacy -- that are included among the school’s general curriculum. They also can partake in on-campus opportunities including DJ’ing at the Cornell radio station and promoting the many concerts on campus. One alum who immersed himself in music extracurriculars is Kendall Minter, class of 1976, who has represented Cassandra Wilson and Peter Tosh, and wrote the music-business contract tome Understanding and Negotiating 360° Ancillary Rights Deals.

Alumnus: Minter, founder of Atlanta-based Minter & Associates

Fordham University School of Law

City: New York Enrollment: 993 Tuition and fees: $58,224 per year

This fall, Fordham Law will launch a new entrepreneurial law clinic where students can gain hands-on experience geared toward providing insights about business and innovation. The clinic will benefit students planning a career in the music industry and complement the school’s deep curriculum in contract law, business and corporate law, finance and intellectual property. Among the specialized courses: a class in entertainment law taught by Derek Dessler, whose career includes 14 years with Universal Music Group.

Alumni: Michelle Jubelirer, COO, Capitol Music Group; Paul Robinson, executive vp/general counsel, Warner Music Group

Lester Cohen

Fordham alum Jubelirer, Capitol Music Group COO

Harvard Law School

City: Cambridge, Mass. Enrollment: 1,771 Tuition and fees: $66,142 per year

Alumni who represent music artists will be on the bill for a two-day arts festival in September celebrating Harvard Law’s bicentennial year. The fest will include performances by clients represented by the school’s long-running Recording Artists Project, a legal-services clinic through which students provide pro bono legal services for Boston-area musicians. RAP and the Committee on Sports & Entertainment Law complement such courses as a new music and digital media class, which under Professor Christopher Bavitz explores music and the way legal principles manifest themselves in practice in the music industry.

Alumnus: Horacio Gutierrez, general counsel, Spotify

Loyola Law School

City: Los Angeles Enrollment: 1,010 Tuition and fees: $55,110 per year

“Music Law,” “Cyber and Intellectual Property Crimes” and “Licensing in a Global Context” are among the courses offered at Loyola, which features a concentration in both entertainment law and intellectual property law. The school’s student-run Entertainment & Sports Law Society hosts regular events, including 2016’s Techtainment 2.0: Technology & Entertainment symposium, hosted with the Los Angeles Intellectual Property Law Association.

Alumni: Bill Colitre, vp/GM, Music Reports; Damian Elahi, senior vp, business and legal, Warner Bros. Records