As the legal industry becomes more competitive, law students are being asked to pursue unconventional legal opportunities and internships in order to acquire the practical experiences needed to stay ahead in a global market.
This summer, five, first-year Miami Law students took an internship with LegalArt, a non-profit organization that would take them outside the box and into the center of downtown Miami. During their internships, they'd work to provide legal assistance and professional education for artists.
Beyond being a great opportunity for the students, the continued collaboration pays homage to the organization, which was founded by Miami Law students Carolina O. Garcia and Laura O'Neil in 2002.
Last year, Jared Kalmanson, a Miami Law graduate desired to further to strengthen the relationship between Miami Law and LegalArt. With the assistance of Kathleen Carignan, Esq. (Executive Director of LegalArt), they were able to do so.
"Legal Art gave me a much more practical and diverse group of cases coming in," said Kalmanson who worked at LegalArt as a Legal Corps fellow. "Now, I've become more marketable." He wanted to provide a similar opportunity to current Miami Law students.
Now, students Jessica Johnson, Dana Vouglitois, Courtney Caliendo, Emre Yersel and Persia Shokoohi are learning what it's like to be an arts attorney.
"My experience has been great," said Johnson who volunteers fulltime, and assists with client intake and has been learning about intellectual property law concepts.
"My main job is to provide initial consultations to determine a client's legal issues and the type of legal assistance the client requires," said Johnson. "I then talk to several attorneys (who have signed up to participate in our program) and find one who is willing and qualified to help the client on a pro-bono, reduced-rate or barter basis."
She adds that one of the most exciting experiences thus far involved blogging for the LegalArt about a lawsuit surrounding the former boxer Mike Tyson's tattoo artist, S. Victor Whitmill, to the production company for The Hangover Part II. The artist argued that the production company, which reproduced a Whitmill's personally designed tattoo on the face of actor Ed Helms for the movie without permission, infringed on his copyright.
"I really like working here," said Johnson. "It is a great experience for a 1L summer internship because I am learning a lot in a laid-back environment."
Other internship responsibilities involve legal research and writing, as well as writing informational pamphlets for members and building a members-only educational online database.
"I have had such great experiences working at LegalArt thus far," said Dana Vougliois who has been able to assist with client intake, update social media sites such as Twitter and Facebook and write blog entries on a weekly basis about current legal issues pertaining to artists including musicians. Vougliois says that some of the most invaluable experiences have been the intimate networking opportunities with other lawyers.
"Kathleen Carignan, our director, has been really instrumental in organizing informational lunch meetings for all of the interns with lawyers in locations throughout the community such as The Adrienne Arsht Center and the law firm of Akerman Senterfitt," said Vougliois. "Those meetings have given me a lot of insight into what these lawyers do on a daily basis and what type of law I may want to practice in the future."