Fashion Has Rules and Laws!

As part of New York Fashion Week, the Fashion Law Institute at Fordham Law School is organizing a show celebrating its Fashion Law Pop-Up Clinics. This program offers assistance to members of the fashion industry who might not otherwise be able to find an experienced attorney – or afford one. The Sept. 7 event in the tents at Lincoln Center will also mark the 2nd anniversary of the Fashion Law Institute, the world’s first center devoted to legal issues affecting the fashion industry.

In order to highlight this unique pro bono initiative, which pairs volunteer attorneys who have industry knowledge and experience with law students to advise fashion clients, the Institute invited half a dozen designers with whom it has worked to present capsule collections. Each designer represents a different facet of the fashion industry. They include 4 clothing designers – womenswear, bridal/womenswear, cycling safety wear, and swimwear – as well as a jewelry designer who will accessorize the others’ looks and an artist/graphic designer who is creating a light installation for the event.

Long before the launch of the Institute, Professor Susan Scafidi, its academic director, realized that there was no fashion-specific pro bono legal program available and that many emerging and independent designers lack access to basic legal advice tailored to the fashion industry. With the help of the Council of Fashion Designers of America and in the spirit of Fordham Law School’s motto, “In the service of others,” she set out to fill that information gap.

Recalling a popular proverb, Professor Scafidi notes, “The goal of the Fashion Law Institute is to provide both fishing poles and fish – general educational programming about legal issues that affect the fashion industry, as well as specific legal advice for designers when they need it.” She came up with the “pop-up” name to describe the monthly clinics as a nod to retail pop-up stores – and a way to distinguish the program from traditional law school clinical courses. The Fashion Law Pop-Up Clinic program is a win-win-win – fashion folks have their legal questions answered, lawyers enjoy the opportunity to share their expertise, and students get a chance to learn through observation and experience. Professor Scafidi adds, “Of all the things the Fashion Law Institute has achieved in its first two years, I’m proudest of this one.”

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