Law in Contemporary Society

Should I Stay or Should I Go?

-- By SalvadorRosas - 26 Apr 2018

Two semesters at CLS has gotten me a great network and encouraged me to seek tools to create my own practice.

After a year of law school at Columbia Law School, I have decided that Columbia is not able to provide the necessary tools for me to pursue my own practice in entertainment and immigration law. This year, I have benefitted from the network that exists through CLS. Aside from the countless corporate associates and partners I bumped elbows with, I also had discussions with a handful of solo practitioners. The latter seemed to be more satisfied with their practice and personal life.

Instead of focusing energy on rebelling against the administration, I have shifted my approach to finding recourses that are relevant to building my practice.

The administration and career services departments here at CLS are not interested in meeting the needs of students or helping them develop their own practices. Maddy Kurtz, director of SJI, has gone out of her way to make me feel uncomfortable about asking certain questions. This semester, I have made a conscious effort to avoid focusing any energy on being antagonistic with the organizations on campus that do not provide any of the assistance that I need to start my practice. Instead, I have focused my energy on the people who have modelled their practices in creative and innovative ways. Last week, I had lunch with two partners from a talent entertainment boutique in NYC. They represent a diverse set of clients such as Tilda Swinton, America Ferrera, and Laverne Cox. However, the firm does not take any new clients, only by referral from agents they already work with, and do not even have a website to avoid “random solicitations.” They only have six associates and three partners and are looking to expand within the next couple of years. They do not hire straight out of law school and only take laterals that have worked at major law firms in NYC for at least four years. After speaking with them over lunch, I identified gaps in their business model. Although, the firm is run by two female partners, they lack diversity among their associates.

As a law student, I still have to learn how to create a business model and capitalize on a gap in the entertainment market.

One of the partners said that they get inundated with requests to represent amateur actors, musicians, writers and artists. That is where my practice comes in. There is clearly a need for simple legal services for these artists. They do not bill hourly only by a percentage of the earnings that result from their contracts. They do not do “pro-bono” in the traditional sense but they do invest in free services for projects they think might be successful. Both of the partners came from firms themselves. The younger partner spent four years at Paul, Weiss. She had just left when I arrived as a paralegal. She did not speak fondly of her time as an M&A associate but recognized that her current firm did not have the resources to train associates at the level that they would at any major corporate law firm. She went on to say that once an associate has received that basic training, she can teach them everything about entertainment contracts in about six months.

If I stay at CLS, I will pursue my own practice, my own way.

I want to skip the four year M&A associate period and learn how to draft, negotiate, and perform due diligence in the next two years of law school. I already have two years of paralegal experience under my belt. By the end of my time at Paul, Weiss I was training first and second year associates on how to do their jobs. I also have an informational interview scheduled with the GC of business affairs at WME in the Beverly Hills office. I want to pick her brain about what role their department plays in drafting contracts for their clients.

Opportunities exist outside of Columbia Law School that may prove to be helpful in advancing my own practice.

Another opportunity has presented itself. There is an open seat for Mayor of my hometown Elk Grove, CA. I would be the first gay, latino and the youngest mayor ever to run and if I win get elected. My family is in the business of community building and remains really well connected throughout Elk Grove. Elk Grove has a huge immigrant population and is demographically diverse. The city is one of few in California that remains diverse and unsegregated. However, a lack of diversity exists on the city council.

Rosas 2020?

I think I am going to run. I have spoken to a few of my friends who work in politics and have rallied some interest among them, my family, and my peers here at CLS. I would either transfer to a school in California to continue my studies in an evening program or wait two years until the next election once I have received my degree. Several of my classmates have conducted independent research on voter registration in Latino communities and have encouraged me to consider running even if I chose to wait until after graduation. Running for mayor of my hometown would give me visibility. It would let everyone know that I am back and dedicated to my community. When the time comes to promote my practice, people in my community will already know who I am and what I value.

Yes. As usual, I think you are completely on the beam. It doesn't matter which way you go, so long as the way you are going has all your thought and all your commitment behind it.

Editing can improve this, by making things simpler. "I am seriously considering submitting a bid for election in this race," could be "I think I'm going to run." If Mr Shenkman needs to be here at all, there needs to be a reason. Mayors are inherently at-large, after all. Little things like that. But when you have your talent for the larger and more flexible vision, only the tendency to let details go stands between you and greatness.

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r3 - 19 Jun 2018 - 21:41:31 - SalvadorRosas
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