Fashion Law: It’s Booming, Darling

Jobless LPC students and law graduates, have you considered fashion law? Suddenly, everyone seems to be talking about it.

According to the Financial Times, which isn’t known for its hyperbole: “demand for legal specialists with luxury goods expertise has risen stratospherically.”

Meanwhile, over at US legal website Above the Law, Staci Zaretsky writes: “Fashion law is a quickly-growing specialty practice area — a place where lawyers can aspire to dress stylishly while honing their legal skills in the glamorous world of haute couture law.”

And About.com’s legal careers section describes fashion law as “an emerging legal specialty that encompasses the legal issues surrounding the life of a garment, from conception to brand protection.”

Here’s Hugh Devlin, a partner specialising in fashion law at Withers in London:

“Fifteen years ago there were no ‘luxury lawyers. I came into it by chance. It was a hobby as much as anything, and there was little competition. Over the last two to three years, however, there has been a flurry of activity, thanks in part to the increase in private equity buy-outs and IPOs. Post-2008, corporate lawyers have sat up and taken notice that luxury is a fascinatingly complex business. Plus, there’s a lot of money to be made.”

Currently the only institution offering a specialist fashion law course is Fordham University in New York, via its Fashion Law Institute.

According to its director, Susan Scafidi, applications have “skyrocketed” since the course began in 2006, and the profile of the average student has shifted to see many more men. Scafidi sees this as “indicative of fashion law having become more mainstream”.

In the UK, one way for students to get into fashion law is by offering pro bono legal advice about intellectual property issues – around which fashion law centres – to students at art schools like the Royal College of Art and Central Saint Martins.

Such is the buzz around this practice area that last month a group of US law students were so excited that they forgot about trademark law and pinched a Louis Vutton logo for a flyer (pictured above) promoting a fashion law event they were holding.

The company wasn’t amused, sending the students a letter that included this warning: