Tag Archives | Student Jobs

A UNC Student’s Summer Experience at the Student Press Law Center

From Lindsie Trego, a fourth-year dual degree student at UNC pursuing a JD and an MA in Mass Communication, who interned at the Student Press Law Center

I had the amazing opportunity to work as a law clerk at the Student Press Law Center this last summer. I first visited the SPLC office back in January of 2013 on a college trip, before I had decided that law school was for me, and before I had even fully realized that a career in media law was a possibility. I remember the SPLC (and the Reporters Committee, with which SPLC was then sharing an office) sparking my interest, and I remember telling my professor that I thought it might be fun to work there someday. Working with the SPLC this summer felt like coming full circle on that experience.

The SPLC is a hectic (and windowless) office: With a small team of lawyers, non-legal staff, and interns, the organization helps thousands of student journalists each year with issues ranging from administrative censorship to public records requests. Because it’s such a small organization with such a big mission, there isn’t much hand-holding for interns, which meant I had the opportunity to be a true self-starter and work on a variety of projects.

My biggest project was writing an amicus brief for a First Amendment case before the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, Koala v. Khosla. The case began when University of California-San Diego revoked funding for five student media publications after one of those outlets published a satirical column calling for “unsafe spaces,” and it questions whether UCSD can skirt First Amendment prohibitions on censorship by cutting funding for a group of publications rather than just one publication. In the SPLC amicus brief, which was joined by seven other press freedom organizations, I pointed out the unique role of the student press in a democratic society, the historical vulnerability of the student press to censorship, and the way that expanding legal loopholes increase this vulnerability.

Other projects included subjects such as press access to college campuses, access to court records, and defamation. Another highlight of my summer was teaching media law workshops for high school journalists on behalf of the SPLC, both in D.C. and back here in Chapel Hill.

I would definitely recommend a summer with the SPLC to go-getter law students interested in media law and First Amendment issues! I owe a big thank-you to the SPLC staff for the amazing experience, and to the Center for Media Law for providing a grant to help make the experience possible.

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A UNC Student’s Summer Experience at the FTC

From Amber Lee, a 3L at UNC School of Law, who interned at the Federal Trade Commission:

This past summer, I interned for the Bureau of Consumer Protection at the Federal Trade Commission in Washington, D.C. The FTC’s mission is to protect consumers by preventing anticompetitive, deceptive, and unfair business practices to enhance and inform consumer choices and public understanding of the competitive process. Specifically, the Bureau of Consumer Protection works to regulate and prevent unfair, deceptive, and fraudulent business practices by developing rules to maintain a fair marketplace, educating consumers and businesses on their rights and responsibilities, collect consumer complaints and conduct investigations, and sue companies or individuals that break the law. Over the course of the summer, interns had the unique opportunity to research the First Amendment issues of several cases the Bureau was considering pursuing, conduct our own investigations of company’s suspected of false advertising, collect consumer complaints and draft affidavits, and participate in both consumer and business education efforts.

During my time at the Bureau of Consumer Protection, I worked on projects with all five of the Bureau’s litigating divisions, including Advertising Practices, Marketing Practices, Enforcement, Financial Services, and Privacy & Identity Protection. I spent most of my summer researching and drafting memoranda on a wide variety of issues to either assist with pending litigation or assess the likely success or weaknesses of legal arguments for cases the Bureau was considering pursuing in the future. Some of my favorite projects included conducting my own independent investigation of a nutritional supplement company suspected of false advertising, assessing the legal strengths and weaknesses of a potential fraud case, researching emerging trends in the courts’ treatment of CDA immunity, and assisting an attorney with a presentation at a local senior center to educate residents about frauds and scams targeting  senior citizens.

The Bureau of Consumer Protection did a fantastic job of integrating the eight legal interns into their cases and into the agency. The internship coordinator hosted weekly meeting with the interns where we would either learn important legal skills or learn more about a division within the Bureau. We also had a mock deposition exercise with some of the best litigators in the Bureau acting as opposing counsel.  Each intern received an attorney mentor and every litigating division hosted a social gathering throughout the summer to give us a chance to meet all of the attorneys in the Bureau. Also, we were able to tour the Supreme Court and Library of Congress as a group during the summer, attend a Nationals baseball game, and attend a variety of ABA or other legal organization events focused on consumer protection or advertising law issues and interact with attorneys in private practice.

I would strongly recommend students to apply the FTC Consumer Protection internship program, especially if they are interested media law, advertising law, or emerging legal issues involving social media. The people I worked with were amazing and I could truly tell they wanted all of the interns to learn new skills and gain something from their experience at the FTC.

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Summer Grants for UNC Law and Graduate Students Interested in Media Law and Policy

summer-job-pictureAre you interested in pursuing a career in media law or policy?  Are you worried that you won’t be able to take that plum summer job in New York, Washington, or Los Angeles because it’s just too expensive to live there.  Well, the Center for Media Law and Policy is here to help.  For the sixth year in a row, the Center will be providing stipends to UNC law and graduate students who have a summer job in the field of media law or media policy.  In past years, UNC students have received Center stipends while working at a wide range of organizations, including the Federal Communications Commission, National Public Radio, Electronic Frontier FoundationFoundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE), Future of Privacy Forum, and Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society

The Center’s summer grants program is administered in conjunction with the UNC School of Law’s Public Interest Summer Grants Program, which provides funds to law students taking unpaid or low-paying public interest jobs. Funding for these grants comes from several sources, including the Carolina Public Interest Law Organization (CPILO), private funds given by generous donors, law school funds allocated by the Dean, and student organizations that fundraise to support students working in a particular area of interest.  In 2016, the law school awarded more than $160,000 to 64 students. 

Wait, you don’t have a summer job yet?!  Head over to our media law and policy Jobs Center, where you will find dozens of summer (and post-graduate) employment opportunities. You can easily find the perfect job for you by using our advanced search feature to search by location, keyword, or practice area.  Also, try browsing by job type or category for a more expansive look at the jobs listed. Still not sure what you want to do for the summer?  You can read about the summer experiences of your fellow students on the Center’s blog.

Requirements and Information on How to Apply for a Summer Grant

For UNC law students interested in both a Center grant and a law school grant, the deadline for applying is March 12, 2017.  The application process and general requirements for both grants is the same. Simply check the box on the  application for the law school’s Summer Public Interest Grant indicating “Media Law or Policy” under the heading “Substantive Areas Your Summer Employment Will Involve” and you will be automatically considered for Center funds in addition to the law school grant.  If you have already filled out an application, just log back in and check the box for “Media Law or Policy”; you can make changes to your application until the application deadline.

For UNC graduate students and law students who are not eligible for law school funds, the deadline for applying for a summer grant is also March 12, 2017, but you will need to download the application form and send it directly to us at medialaw [at] unc.edu along with the other supporting material described below. 

Please note that you must have a job offer from one of the following types of organizations to be eligible for law school funds: a nonprofit organization (an organization that is described in section 501(c) of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 and exempt from taxation under section 501(a) of the Code), a legal aid office, a state or federal government agency, a public defender office, or a district attorney office. If are a UNC graduate student or law student who is not seeking law school funds, your employer does not need to meet the requirements described directly above.

Applications will be evaluated based on (a) your demonstrated commitment to working in the areas of media law or policy and (b) the quality of your essays (each essay must not be more than 500 words).

Required documents include:

  1. Resume (without grade information)
  2. Offer letter from your employer
  3. Essays (no more than 500 words each) *

* Essay questions:

  • Essay #1: Describe your work responsibilities and how they relate to media law or media policy.
  • Essay #2: Describe your commitment to public service. How have your past interests and work experiences contributed to your proposed summer internship responsibilities?
  • Essay #3: How do you see this summer work experience contributing to your long-term career goals?

Be sure to check out these Tips for Writing a Strong Grant Application. You will be notified of a decision in early April.

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A Student’s Reflections on Interning at the FCC

FCC1From Varsha Mangal, a 3L at UNC School of Law and recipient of one of the Center’s Summer Public Interest Grants:

This past summer, I interned at the Office of General Counsel at the Federal Communications Commission in Washington, D.C. The FCC regulates communications by radio, television, wire, satellite, and cable. With the elections near, it was a very exciting time to be at the FCC. Over the course of the summer, the agency had won the net-neutrality case in U.S. Court of Appeals, and was working on many controversial issues such as the proposed rulemakings on privacy and the set-top-boxes.

At the Office of General, I got a birds-eye view of the agency and exposure to the work being done in the different bureaus. I spent most of my time researching and drafting memoranda on intellectual property and contract issues relevant to rulemaking proceedings. I gained a good understanding of administrative law as I updated the attorney handbook with recent developments in the law and wrote briefs on judicial opinions regarding administrative law cases that were released over the summer.  Additionally, I read comments submitted to the FCC and attended ex-parte meetings. Most of my work focused on the major issues arising from the Media Bureau, but I also got to exposure to merger and antitrust issues.

Although there are only a few interns at the OGC, every office and bureau in the agency takes legal interns. Thus, the intern program is quite extensive and the FCC hosted several brown-bag lunches for the students, where speakers such as Chairman Tom Wheeler and the Founder of BET would come speak to us. Also, D.C. is a wonderful place to spend the summer and has several fun things to do for free – which is great for students on a budget!

I would strongly recommend students to apply to the FCC for an internship if they are interested in media law or working for the federal government down the road. Even for those who may want to work in the private sector, the FCC is one of the major government regulators in the media industry and the insight that you receive at the agency will be incredibly valuable. Furthermore, the people I worked with at the agency were brilliant, kind, and great mentors.

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Media Law Student Spent Summer Working in Business and Legal Affairs Office of Broadway Video

bvid-logo-lrgFrom Rachel Rice, a 2L at UNC School of Law and recipient of one of the Center’s Summer Public Interest Grants:

This summer I worked in the Business and Legal Affairs Office of Broadway Video Entertainment. The Business and Legal Affairs Office is located in Los Angeles, California. Broadway Video, a Lorne Michaels company, is known for producing Saturday Night Live, Portlandia, 30 Rock, Documentary Now!, Maya & Marty, The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon, Late Night with Seth Meyers, and Man Seeking Woman. The company has recently expanded and created its own YouTube platform focused on Latino comedy, titled Mas Mejor, as well as a short-form comedy distributor known as Above Average.

My work this summer focused on aiding the company’s two attorneys with whatever they needed. As a large production company with a small legal team, the Business and Legal Affairs Office provided me with the opportunity to gain experience in almost every aspect of entertainment law. The legal team handles all of the talent, television licensing, music licensing, and locations agreements, as well as any copyright, and trademark issues, among other things.

My biggest project of the summer was summarizing the agreements between IFC (the Independent Film Channel) and Broadway Video for the distribution of Portlandia and Documentary Now! Each agreement had multiple amendments, and in order to consolidate all of the information for quick access to important clauses, I created a chart outlining each agreement as a whole.

I compared countless contracts (really, countless), drafting and editing the standard terms and conditions sections to meet company standards. I formatted talent agreements and examined them for any changes made by the talent agency that might have gone unnoticed. I drafted licensing agreements for the international distribution of Saturday Night Live, Portlandia, and Documentary Now! I also drafted agreements between Broadway Video and airline companies in order to allow the airlines to keep their fliers entertained with recent episodes of Saturday Night Live and Portlandia.

When I wasn’t drafting and editing contracts I was researching labor and employment issues to ensure that SAG-AFTRA (Screen Actors Guild), DGA (Directors Guild of America), and WGA (Writers Guild of America) standards were being adhered to regarding the hiring of directors, writers, and actors. I read through scripts to make sure they met internal standards as well as avoided any copyright and trademark issues.

I summarized the pros and cons of various arbitration forums in order to help the office determine which forum would be best, should the need for arbitration arise. In addition, I summarized agreements between Broadway Video and Pepsi, and Broadway Video and Volkswagen for the use of their products in various episodes of television shows.

Working in the Business and Legal Affairs Office was a fantastic opportunity that gave me invaluable experience in transactional, media, and entertainment law. Even outside of work, living in Los Angeles was a phenomenal experience. There is never a dull moment in the city and it’s true what everyone says about the weather – it’s perfect. I would highly recommend this opportunity to any student interested in pursuing a career in any form of media law.

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