On a warm October day in 2013 at a New York City cafe, I met Whitney R. McGuire for drinks, food, and a discussion on Fashion Law. Despite never having met me before, Whitney (at the time a third-year law student) agreed to share her journey to fashion law and to provide advice to a nervous, wannabe law student. I’ve had the pleasure of staying in contact with Whitney over the years. Below is a post that she wrote several years ago for fashion law and creative industry enthusiasts like myself. Whitney has been a great mentor and supporter! Please read her advice and check out her site, where she discusses Intellectual Property issues.
Published with permission courtesy of Whitney R. McGuire, Esq.
I am always willing to share information to help others achieve their personal success. Today, I’d like to share some advice I received from Susan Scafidi, Director of Fordham’s Fashion Law Institute. For those of us who choose not to apply/ transfer to Fordham, but still have a strong interest in pursuing a course track in Fashion Law, she suggested taking classes that have an Intellectual Property focus as well as business law courses. If your institution is somewhat strict on BAR requirements, I would suggest taking courses that deal with fashion law during your 2L Fall semester and interspersing the bar related courses like Evidence and Criminal Procedure throughout your remaining semesters. Why? Let’s face it, employment is very hard to come by for law students these days and triple as hard to obtain if you are interested in such a small field. The more your transcript reflects the most relevant courses as well as a high GPA, the more appealing you will look to employers come Springtime when they make their final decisions. Also, many fashion houses, at least the ones I’ve contacted, begin hiring a bit later than firms, so if you are interested in the fashion house route, take courses that are relevant to fashion law in the Fall of your 2L year, so they are on your transcript when you begin applying throughout the Fall, Winter and Spring. Also, try to obtain internships throughout the year that are relevant to your interest. If you are interested in the Labor aspect of fashion law, the ACLU or a labor firm might be a good choice. If you are interested in the transactional or litigation practices, working for a fashion house or IP group in a firm would give you relevant work experience. If you are interested in legislation (which affects the fashion industry tremendously, especially right now), look for a lobbying firm that deals with designers rights, etc.
Additionally, if you are fortunate to gain admission onto a law journal, WRITE ABOUT SOMETHING RELEVANT TO THE FIELD IN WHICH YOU WANT TO WORK! So many professors and employers have reiterated this to me. Writing is important in the field, so take as many opportunities to gain writing samples based on the field you want to pursue. If you don’t gain admission to a journal, DON’T WORRY! You can still write an article independently and submit it for publication to any journal you want!
Join as many organizations that deal with fashion law as you possibly can, this includes the ABA, whatever Bar association that is affiliated with your state, Volunteer Lawyers for the Arts, and various other groups. DO YOUR RESEARCH and make connections.
Finally, be persistent. Don’t let a few “no’s” deter you from pursuing your “yes”. Call, email, network, blog, call again. Do your research and become immersed and well-versed in the field. The Fashion Industry is a beast and the legal field is no cake walk either. Put your best foot forward everyday and believe in yourself.
I’m currently practicing what I preach. Stay tuned…