By Marketa Trimble, Associate Professor of Law
Law students might not always be aware that effective legal counsel requires more than a thorough knowledge of the law; it also requires an understanding of a client’s business. A new lawyer’s familiarity with a specific industry is extremely beneficial for clients when a law graduate begins to practice in that industry.
Erica Bobak, a third-year law student at the William S. Boyd School of Law, is not only studying to become a lawyer, she is also developing an industry expertise – in the fashion industry. She has turned her passion for fashion into a knowledge of the creative process, industry standards and practices, and challenges faced by fashion designers, garment manufacturers, modeling agencies, and other fashion industry actors. To prepare for a practice in the industry she has pursued intellectual property law courses at Boyd, and this past summer she attended Fordham Law School’s Fashion Law Bootcamp.
As is typical of many Boyd students, Erica seeks ways to serve the local creative community and contribute to the diversification of the Nevada economy. She connects with local fashion designers at the Stitch Factory – a fashion incubator located in the vibrant downtown district of Las Vegas across the street from Zappos.
The Stitch Factory offers an inspiring co-working space to fashion designers and other fashion artists and creators, and fashion courses for aspiring industry entrepreneurs. The Stitch Factory invited Erica to speak about fashion law to its members and other visitors, and on November 17, 2014, she gave a presentation on intellectual property law in the fashion industry. Erica explained what intellectual property law covers and how the fashion industry uses various legal doctrines to protect its work product. She detailed important case law relating to the fashion industry, including cases involving Christian Loboutin’s red soles and Levi’s back pocket stitching design, and discussed legislative proposals that would afford sui generis protection to fashion designs.
Although Erica is not yet licensed to practice law in Nevada and therefore could not provide legal advice to the audience, the information she presented serves an important educational purpose for fashion professionals: audience members gained an awareness of some of the legal issues that they might face and a realization of some fact situations that might warrant legal consultation. And Erica benefits too – she now has a preview of what some of her future clients might one day ask when they are sitting in her office.