The Documentary Film Legal Clinic will give students the opportunity to provide legal counsel and representation to documentary filmmakers. The legal services for independent filmmakers may include:
- Assisting filmmakers in gathering news and content – e.g., public records requests, location agreements, depiction and materials releases and other newsgathering issues;
- Providing intellectual property counsel and training, including advice regarding fair use, clearance of music, visuals and archival materials, and rights of publicity;
- Drafting and negotiating a wide variety of agreements, including agreements to secure content, talent and other personnel; and
- Advising filmmakers regarding defamation, privacy and other First Amendment and liability issues.
Students enrolled in the Clinic will acquire substantive expertise in media and entertainment law, as well as practical experience in interviewing and counseling clients, identifying and managing risk, negotiating and drafting agreements and professional responsibility. The Clinic will include
mandatory weekly seminars covering both substantive and practical legal skills through lectures, discussion, exercises and group review of projects. Students will also attend weekly team meetings of at least one hour with the supervising faculty member(s) to review and discuss client goals, legal issues, strategies and progress. These meetings will provide students with the opportunity to receive direct feedback from the instructors regarding their project work. And students should anticipate intermittent additional sessions, including meetings with clients, film screenings and other events that may occasionally be scheduled in the evenings or, if necessary, on weekend days.
To enhance their practical understanding of the role of lawyers in social impact media like documentary filmmaking, students will engage in practical simulations and seminar activities, including: interviewing potential clients and evaluating proposed projects; reviewing case studies involving previously-released films; preparing legal training materials for current and future clients of the Clinic; and oral advocacy and presentation exercises. Students will have opportunities to receive feedback from their supervising faculty members and from their clinical
colleagues. Students will also engage in self-evaluation regarding project and client work.
This four-unit course will be graded based upon project work, class participation and several written reflection assignments designed to measure progress and understanding of key principles and skills.