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13-01-2009
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C Devin's Avatar
 
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Legal Counsel for Fashion Company
Up until last month, I was working for an intellectual property law firm in New York, but am now considering a career in fashion. I'm considering an in-house position at a fashion company or luxury brand. Is anyone familiar with in-house legal positions? In particular, I am wondering if I have enough firm experience (about 15 months) and any other qualifications I might need to work in-house.

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29-06-2009
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feili's Avatar
 
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Law in the fashion industry?
Do fashion houses typically have their own in house lawyers or do they hire from law firms as needed? Any lawyers here or anyone with knowledge of this? Would greatly appreciate some advice.

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05-08-2009
  63
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Wow great thread.. I have a business degree and I'm currently studying for the Dec 09 LSAT. I'm still not sure if I really want to go to law school... my heart keeps telling me that I should just wait it out and work as a retail supervisor/manger first.. I want freedom and flexibility I guess.

I thought "fashion law" would be exciting and all, but after working at a civil litigation firm for 2 years, I just don't see past the long and grueling hours at a law firm unless you are really passionate about it.

Being a business major, I love everything about business and wanted to know more about IP law... would having a business degree help in IP or is it strictly helpful to have an engineering degree? What type of law would a business undergrad degree be most helpful for?

I also wouldn't want to do litigation necessarily.. is it hard to get into contracts and other business things if you have a law degree in the fashion industry?

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05-08-2009
  64
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Quote:
Originally Posted by PinkPrincess113 View Post
Being a business major, I love everything about business and wanted to know more about IP law... would having a business degree help in IP or is it strictly helpful to have an engineering degree? What type of law would a business undergrad degree be most helpful for?

I also wouldn't want to do litigation necessarily.. is it hard to get into contracts and other business things if you have a law degree in the fashion industry?
Caveat: I'm not a lawyer, I'm an engineer in the apparel industry and consult a lot with attorneys and clients about IP matters. I have also hired an IP attorney and keep one on retainer. Btw, for proper context here, I work mostly with individuals who want to start a clothing line.

If you want to do IP, it's best to get an engineering degree. Me personally, I wouldn't hire an IP attorney who was not also an engineer. Most IP matters (with large amounts of money at risk) are engineering related. If you want to focus on the softer side (trademarks etc), maybe engineering isn't necessary. If you're passionate about business and contracts, then maybe corporate law would be best for you.

One thing is certain, there is a greater focus on IP in fashion these days and I'm not sure what to make of it or what it means because paradoxically, there is definitely less innovation in fashion. I don't understand why people are increasingly obsessed with protecting what amounts to much ado about nothing (imo). Btw, it's not the innovators drawn to doing this, it's tiny businesses entering the market who really aren't doing anything special (imo). The vast majority of IP in fashion these days amounts to litigating over a tee shirt graphic, not defending the innovation of somebody like Cavalli. Worse, it seems that those most obsessed with protecting their ideas are often using the intellectual property of others as the basis of their product (knock off patterns of other producers etc). It's gotten so bad -really really bad- that I will not sign NDAs in the interests of limiting my own liability. A real paradox.

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05-08-2009
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^Thanks for your input. I never completely understood why engineering was needed for IP. I think I would like to get into corporate law.

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05-08-2009
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http://www.greyhills.eu/en/dr_jens_h_steinberg.html

Check out this fashion lawyer with an LLM. Doesn't he just look the part? Haha, just had to post this up here.

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16-08-2009
  67
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Quote:
Originally Posted by C Devin View Post
Up until last month, I was working for an intellectual property law firm in New York, but am now considering a career in fashion. I'm considering an in-house position at a fashion company or luxury brand. Is anyone familiar with in-house legal positions? In particular, I am wondering if I have enough firm experience (about 15 months) and any other qualifications I might need to work in-house.
In house positions are quite hard to get... you need a lot of experience. Anything is possible, but this is the norm. Also, they don't want to train you, and in house lawyer must have extensive experience in the field (in fashion this would be mainly IP, corporate, don't know about across the pond but in Europe competition law).

On a more general note, your main focus must be on law. If fashion is your main focus I wouldn't advise to take the law-route... it will not be about the fashion, it will be about the law...

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19-08-2009
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does anyone have any info about 'fashion lawyers' in the london context? like which law firms are strongest in the area, and how to go about getting into fashion/ip law. thanks!

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24-08-2009
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Just found this...

Quote:
Fashion Law
Got a passion for fashion? How about a good eye for a good buy? Want to read Vogue and In Style and have that count towards billable hours? Perhaps you should consider specializing in fashion law.

Fashion law is a rapidly growing specialty that deals with the issues of intellectual property, including copyright and trademark law, business law, licensing, textiles, merchandising, and, on occasion, the import/export side of customs. A fashion attorney negotiates the best deals for his or her clients. Those clients may be large retail chains, haute couture labels, high-fashion models, or an unknown designer just starting out. If and when the situation arises, a fashion attorney will litigate for his or her clients in court.

The pros of working in such a distinctive area of specialization are plenty. Fashion law offers a backstage pass to a glamorous, star-studded industry. There are opportunities to attend glitzy, upscale parties; wear the latest in designer fashions; and hobnob with all of the beautiful people. A good fashion attorney can earn good money—with emphasis on "earn"; the drawbacks of this type of work include piles of paperwork, long hours, and high stress. Also, a dispute can occur on either a domestic or an international front; so a willingness to travel is a must.

A more comprehensive definition of fashion law consists of providing advice on intellectual property and commercial matters to fashion houses, designers, manufacturers, distributors, modeling agencies, retailers, and photographers. It covers everything from branding, protection, and enforcement of intellectual property rights to the non-contentious commercial side of the business, such as licensing, manufacturing, and distribution contracts and agency and franchising agreements.

Fashion houses and accessory designers both face unique challenges specific to their industry. They require attorneys who understand the nature of short seasons and ever-changing product cycles, pressures surrounding counterfeit goods, and the issues of unfair competition. Valuable assets in the fashion business consist of not only intellectual property rights, but also trade arrangements, contracts, and information technology systems. A fashion attorney's career success may depend on being able to effectively protect these assets by delivering industry-specific legal advice tailored to the clients' needs.

Fashion law is a unique specialty because of its focus on intellectual property. There are two primary concerns that need to be emphasized in a fashion law practice: protection and exploitation. A fashion attorney will be expected to advise his or her clients on all forms of protecting copyright and trademarks, as well as the newer database and design rights. There are opportunities to serve as corporate counsel, as many of the larger design houses and major retailers have their own in-house legal teams.

While it is not completely unknown in the United States, the fast-paced field of fashion law is much more established in Europe, particularly in the United Kingdom. The Fox Williams Fashion Law Group in London was founded with one purpose in mind, and that is to provide focused legal information to the fashion industry. It is comprised of a cross-departmental team of attorneys who are dedicated to providing their clients within the fashion industry with one-stop service and a high level of expertise. Many of their attorneys practice the sub-specialty of employment law within the fashion industry. Employment problems frequently demand a quick response time, necessitating extensive additional knowledge of workplace regulations. Onside Law and Harbottle & Lewis are two other London-based firms that provide high-quality legal services to select clients in the media, fashion, and entertainment industries.

Imitation used to be the highest form of flattery, but not anymore. High-profile style wars between fashion houses and ready-to-wear retailers are becoming increasingly frequent as high-ticket designers serve notice to knock off the knock-offs. One high-end retailer recently received an out-of-court settlement from a discount clothing chain over the alleged copying of some of its pieces. Other copycat cases are pending. But as more and more discount retailers and independent entrepreneurs "borrow" expensive designs to create inexpensive and affordable imitations, a good lawyer is fast becoming a must-have accessory for every fashion designer.

While the role of the fashion attorney is a glamorous one, there is an important caveat. While it's true that fashion attorneys often get invited to good parties, going into this area of practice just because it seems glamorous can be a trap. Fashion law is a very specialized area, and it is important to understand how the entire industry works. It is imperative for fashion attorneys to comprehend the subtleties and nuances of a particular brand and its full marketing strategy and to be able to distinguish the works of different designers.

And after all of that, you get to go shopping.
- LAWCROSSING.COM

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24-08-2009
  70
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^ That's very interesting, never heard of fashion lawyer ever. Thanks for posting

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24-08-2009
  71
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Quote:
Originally Posted by PinkPrincess113 View Post
http://www.greyhills.eu/en/dr_jens_h_steinberg.html

Check out this fashion lawyer with an LLM. Doesn't he just look the part? Haha, just had to post this up here.

He is so perfect he LOOKS fake.

like a cardboard cutout.

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25-08-2009
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http://www.counterfeitchic.com/2008/...hion_law_1.php - check out this post, it's by a law school professor who offers a course in fashion law!

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05-10-2009
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Would anybody have contact information for any in-house attorneys/legal departments for big labels? I know there are some that have inside counsel, but I couldn't find much online myself. I know being a "fashion lawyer" would be just like any other kind of legal work, but it would be pretty amazing to work in that environment.

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06-04-2010
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Betsy Pearce is probably the best known fashion lawyer.
http://pearcellp.com/#/home/

There are a few law firms which claim to specialize in fashion and all fashion houses have in house counsel. They generally are very willing to hire law school interns, which is a great way to get a foot in the door. See the career center at your law school.

In general though, fashion lawyers are just lawyers. They do contracts, intellectual property, corporate transactions (mergers, credit lines) & corporate board resolutions, real estate acquisitions and store closings etc. My advice is, don't be a "fashion" lawyer if you want to work in fashion. Be a fashion lawyer if you want to be a lawyer but would enjoy a steady position in house with regular hours and don't have ambitions for becoming a partner or CEO. If you want to be in fashion, go to work in the industry.

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17-04-2010
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Wow didn't know there was a such thing as that...interesting.

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