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London College of Fashion unveils first of its kind law course

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University of the Arts moves into legal education

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The London College of Fashion has announced that it will be offering a new course especially for wannabe fashion lawyers.

This will be the UK’s first short course dedicated to fashion law — although several university LLB intellectual property modules feature a fashion law element. It will cover the basics of, for example, intellectual property law, international trade requirements, and preventing counterfeits.

‘An Introduction to Fashion Law’ will be taught by fashion law expert Elaine Maguire O’Connor — a Trinity College Dublin grad and founder of trendy fashion law blog Wigs and Gowns.

We caught up with her to find out a bit more about the programme, and what’s in it for the students. O’Connor told us:

The course gives a good overview of different areas of fashion law including IP, ethics and international trade. This can help students identify the area they might like to specialise in, or determine if they’d like to be a more generalist fashion lawyer.

The course is, according to O’Connor, “most suitable” for uni students and grads, and she’s expecting a good mix of students from both fashion and law backgrounds.

Currently there are no fashion law LLMs in Britain, with only Fordham University in New York offering a masters programme in the subject. But for now O’Connor says there are no plans at present to extend the London College of Fashion course into something similar via parent body the University of the Arts.

The intensive course is scheduled for the Easter holidays, and will repeat in June and August. It will set participants back £375 — hardly cheap for three six-and-a-half hour days. There are no scholarships available.

Legal Cheek spoke to a practising fashion lawyer at a top London brand to get his insight on whether the course is worth the cash. He told us:

[The information taught on the course] is the sort of information you’d learn on the job as an in-house solicitor. It can take time and effort to find out the business needs but you can’t buy the experience.

But, he continued:

[F]or those who might not have access to legal advisers or wanting to start up a business then it would be helpful if the course were to provide a digestible introduction to identify the risks and pitfalls of working in fashion and knowing when to seek legal advice.

So it seems this Easter crammer has the potential to be helpful for aspiring fashion lawyers with spare cash. But there’s a lot more to be done if you want to make it big in the sector.

When we asked for O’Connor’s top advice for budding fashion lawyers, she told us that an understanding of the industry is crucial — and that doesn’t mean watching fashion shows. She explained:

It’s crucial to have a good sense of how the business of fashion works and a genuine interest in the industry itself. In university, take modules that will apply to the industry. IP is the cornerstone of fashion law but subjects like employment law, contracts and corporate law are also very important in order to be a well-rounded lawyer.

And, according to our practising fashion lawyer, the way to make it big in this “fast-paced” and often “unforgiving” business is to get some hands on retail experience. He told us:

Only the best in the business remember that the customer is king and do their best to centralise around this concept — just remember it’s the lawyers that write the T&Cs. Behind the scenes working with a variety of people ranging from the creative with less focus on commercial requirements to those interested solely on sales figures and no understanding of brand perception is also invaluable experience.