Miami Law and the Frost School of Music gathered at Clark Hall on Friday to celebrate the inception of the one-of-a-kind J.D./M.M. joint degree program that enables students to simultaneously pursue a Juris Doctorate and a Masters of Music in the Music Business and Entertainment Industries.
"This is the only place in the world where this enterprise is happening," said Dean Patricia D. White to an audience of students and faculty at the music hall lobby. "It's going to take a long time for anyone else to catch up with us."
The gathering was full of excitement as wine and hors d'oeuvres were passed around. "It's really touched a nerve, and it's going to be a great success," said White.
The reality of being the first was at the top of everyone's minds.
"You are a part of something that is happening," said Sandy Abraham, Miami Law's Executive Liaison of Interdisciplinary Programs and Initiatives.
The program allows for nine law credits to count toward the M.M. degree, and six music business credits to count towards the J.D. degree. This saves students as many as 15 credits between the two programs.
Bringing truth to an if-you-build-it-they-will-come approach, students flooded Miami Law the moment the program became available.
When the joint degree program was announced last spring, only 10 law students were accepted into the program. Now, there are a total of 45 law students attending Miami Law while obtaining a masters degree at the Frost School of Music, one of the largest and best music schools located in a private university in the U.S.
Doubters may question the lasting power and impact of a JD/MM joint degree.
Not a problem says Shelton Berg, Dean and Professor of Music.
"There are tremendous resources here," Berg told the audience. "These things can become exponentially more powerful when they combine." The staying power has already been proven. "We're not a new stack of cards," he said, hinting at the fact that the Frost School of Music was one of the first schools at UM, established in 1926, while Miami Law began in 1928. This new joint degree program is an expansion of the two, not a test drive. "We bring expertise to the table," Berg said.
Students expressed the immediate benefits they've already experienced.
"I'm really happy. I wasn't able to connect with the music school before," said Amy Price, 3L, who obtained her undergraduate degree in Commercial Music at Florida Atlantic University. The new partnership allows Price to take classes as elective credits at the music school. "I want to take advantage of the opportunities and networks."
Price is currently enrolled in a course about legalities of recording agreements, "something we wouldn't be able to do in a traditional law school." Before graduating in May 2011, Price plans to take a class about music copyright laws.
Emphasizing the importance and staying power of the JD/MM program, Detroit student Candice Lazar, 1L, says that as the music industry is broadened by the advancements of technology and globalization, the need for lawyers to protect their client's rights makes a program such as this that much more important.
"People wouldn't make music if they didn't get paid," said Lazar, touching on the important legal complexities of licensing. "It's a business. It takes work. It's a labor of love, but it's still labor."
Self-proclaimed professional student and musician Rico Williams from New York says he's been searching for a program that made sense to him. "I could get a lawyering degree anywhere else," said Williams, "but none will connect me the way this program does. To be honest, I feel like I should have been doing this a long time ago."
Lazar laughed at the comment. "The program is brand new," she said.
Williams responds with a smile. "Then, I guess that means I have perfect timing."