The First Academic Degree In Fashion Law
While some aspects of legal education are flailing, one, in particular, is thriving—fashion law. That’s right, fashion law is a thing. Actually, it’s a potentially lucrative and necessary sector of the law. America’s lax copyright laws for the fashion industry has led to a $600 billion counterfeit industry, mainly in the form of intellectual theft and design knockoffs.
One school has dedicated two degrees to prepare lawyers specifically for these issues. New York City-based Fordham law announced this week that, beginning fall of 2015, individuals already possessing a J.D. can apply to either a Master of Studies in Law or a Master’s of Law in fashion law.
“There are plenty of big law firms in the city that hire lawyers who have knowledge in the background of fashion,” Professor Susan Scafidi, who pioneered the first fashion law course at Fordham in 2010, said, as reported by Racked. “Why wouldn’t they hire lawyers who are actually trained in the field of fashion?”
The degrees will feature deep dive courses taught by fashion industry insiders. Some of those courses include subjects such as fashion financing, fashion licensing, sustainability, and fashion modeling law.
“It became apparent to me that there were questions about the fashion industry that no one was trained to answer,” Scafidi told Racked in January. “There needed to be a field of fashion law where people were trained. Fashion companies have in-house counsel, but they aren’t specialized in fashion. If they were going to have an IPO, they called a lawyer that dealt with that. If they were acquired, they called someone specializing in mergers and acquisitions. But each time, they’d have to educate the lawyer about how their business works, and that’s a waste of time and money. A fashion lawyer can understand, empathize with, and act on behalf of clients in a technical and specialized industry. They understand all the quirky details.”
The program is also getting support from the Council of Fashion Designers of America (CFDA). CFDA President Diane von Furstenberg has provided funding to seed the degrees and has been an outspoken supporter of the program. The school began accepting applications this week and classes for the program will start with the normal fall semester at Fordham.
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