Fordham Law Makes Big Fashion Statement

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Today’s growing field of law school graduates and young attorneys seeking jobs is making the legal career field more competitive than ever. In an effort to differentiate themselves from the pack, many graduates have begun seeking further legal education–such as the LL.M–in specialized fields; however, this trend just received a makeover.

On Monday, Fordham University School of Law announced it will be the first to offer degrees in fashion law effective Fall 2015. Students will be able to choose between two degrees: a Master of Laws (LLM) in Fashion Law for those who’ve already completed a J.D. degree, and a Master in the Study of Law (MSL) for business professionals interested in fashion law.

As one of the first law schools in the world and certainly the United States propelling such a distinct institution, the announcement comes at the perfect time. Not only does the LLM offer J.D. graduates interested in fashion an opportunity to further enhance their legal education, but it also provides a niche industry resource to fashion and clothing lines tackling intellectual property, copyright infringement, and counterfeiting lawsuits.

Like many of its other LLM programs, students who wish to study fashion law have the option to do so as full or part-time students and in the traditional LLM approach of two semesters. Copyright, IP, and counterfeit charges pertaining to fashion law are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the program. Students will further be exposed to and taught how to deal with employee issues when dealing with talent and models, regulating claims related to sustainability and data privacy concerns linked to e-commerce and social media.

Traditionally a the LLM has been a tool utilized by international students wishing to gain global credentials, and for J.D. graduates who desire advanced legal study. Although having an LLM does make an attorney stand out due to their specified area of expertise studied, the degree is not required in the United States since a J.D. is sufficient for both taking the bar exam and employment.

Statistics and trends provided by the American Bar Association, however, show that there are more attorneys today than ever. As of last year there were 1,281,432 practicing attorneys, a staggering 21 percent increase from the year 2000. These statistics clearly indicate the exponential growth of attorneys in the United States. They also make clear why students must seek something to set themselves apart from the competition; and for those interested in fashion, Fordham Law School has just made history.

According to attorney and founder of the Fashion Law Institute at Fordham Professor Susan Scafidi, “legal savvy, like business expertise, has always been an important component in building a successful fashion house or design career–it just hasn’t yet been recognized to the same degree…Would we have Tom Ford without Domenico De Sole, or at least a significant degree of legal knowledge?”

Scafidi’s statement further justifies the notion that narrowly tailored institutions such as Fordham’s approach to the legal aspects of the fashion world open up new opportunities for job-seeking J.D. graduates with an interest in fashion. With the ever-growing competition of attorneys in the United States, Fordham’s LLM in fashion law will be beneficial for companies seeking to hire legal advisers with this specific expertise amid the growth of lawsuits and disputes pertinent to the market of fashion.

Symon Rowlands
Symon Rowlands is a member of the University of Miami Class of 2016 and was a Law Street Media Fellow during the Summer of 2015. Symon now blogs for Law Street, focusing mostly on politics. Contact Symon at



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