East Coast v. West Coast Fashion Law Rivalry? How Did I Miss Julie Zerbo’s The Law of Fashion’s BIG Swipe at the West Coast’s Fashion Industry? #Fashionlaw

Is this some east coast versus west coast fashion rap feud? 2Pac v. B.I.G? Fashion Law is barely emerging and I am already noticing the growing and contentious rivalry between New York and Los Angeles.

I saw Julie Zerbo’s The Fashion Law blog’s tweeted article titled, “Will the West Coast Ever be Fashion’s Best Coast?” today and I was amused by the title. But, after reading it, I wanted my time spent reading it returned to me because it was the third time I was reading an article pitting the Fashion Law east coast  movement against the west coast.

I reside on the west coast, I am a California girl at heart but I have a long standing fashion (journalism, modeling etc.) and law (graduate school and clients) relationship with the east coast, among other things, and one I enjoy immensely and intend to keep that way.

Accordingly, let me nip this nonsense in the butt lest there be any confusion. Being a stakeholder in this industry means I refuse to stand on the sideline and let others “pour sand for my garri,” i.e. get in the way of what I am determined to see happen with respect to fashion law. FASHION LAW IS NOT about the Hampton’s east coast vs. 90210 west coast divisions. When did the movie ‘Mean girls’ make its way to fashion law??!

Fashion law  is a practice area that is creating opportunities and will continue to do so for many young lawyers in a rapidly changing legal profession.

Let me be even more explicit. In case you haven’t all noticed, allow me to be a bit more obvious on the changing environment of legal practice. E-discovery anyone? Our young lawyers are graduating and are unable to find jobs. Many are lucky if they can find contract attorney jobs sifting  through e-discovery at hourly rates way below their market value.

Legal outsourcing is also robbing our young lawyers of opportunities. As practicing attorneys, what is our responsibility to the profession and to these young ones?  Social media and social networking has also changed the face of the legal industry. Indeed, while it gives many attorneys excellent branding opportunities for those who know what to do with it, the competition is also fierce. Big law firms and their partners are now actually having to really compete for clients and be actively engaged to attract new business.  Please believe these firms are waiting to understand what fashion law is about before they jump right in with expanding their firms to include fashion law practice groups.

Now is the opportunity for our young lawyers who typically will be ignored or told they need to have 5-10 years experience to explore and lay the foundation for a successful career in fashion law.

The bottom line is that from the judiciary to big law firms, one thing is very clear.  The practice of law is changing and lawyers in general better be prepared to meet the new challenges ahead, I don’t care if you work for/ or are a partner in the biggest law firm in the world or you are a sole practitioner.

Part of meeting the challenge of this 21st century is innovating and also looking, from an entrepreneurial standpoint, for expansion into a practice area like fashion law.

The vast majority of lawyers, I find, have been trained and have the mindset of employees. Beyond the niche area of work they focus on, they have not put in the work in themselves to create added value and make themselves indispensable.  When these employees lose their jobs or lose their health because of a terrible work-balance reality, they literally have no fall back plan or where to go.

Our young lawyers are anxious, depressed, have high student loans, don’t have a job or are underpaid. They graduate law school and jobs that should be given to them are outsourced or taken up by the many Do it Yourself legal services companies available today.

Law schools are having a hard time securing jobs for their graduates. To stay competitive, law schools that frowned on Fashion Law and other seemingly “creative” legal professions are having a rethink. This is what fashion law is about, NOT some stupid east coast v. west coast catty rivalry on who will be the “best coast for fashion?” Fashion Law is a dynamic practice area and creates great opportunities for our young lawyers, minority lawyers and women both locally and globally.

Fashion law is a practice area that is open to women in a legal industry that has traditionally been quite myopic where women are concerned. It is also a practice area that is open to African-Americans, thanks to the fashion digital movement as well. Indeed, Black lawyers are championing a quiet movement as well in fashion law. From DC to Chicago, New York to California it is hard to miss the influence of Black fashion lawyers in the legal profession, a very important fact considering the immense contribution of African-Americans to America’s fashion (retail) industry. Has any one given props to Howard Law School for having an actual one week of Fashion Law?

Look folks, I have a vested interest in this practice area and if you have followed my work on and offline, from the courtroom to anywhere advocacy is concerned, then you know this ridiculous pettiness is not one I intend to stand by and put up with. I worked hard to get here and there are many before me and right behind me. I will not stand and let this practice area be reduced to cat fights over whose eye brow waxes are the best or not. No ma’am. No sir. It is not that kind of party, not where fashion law is concerned.

We must, as legal professionals and in a niche practice area still trying to gain recognition, not miss the important work ahead and the kind of legacy we are privileged to create and share with our industry and the world at large. Let’s gain some perspective here, shall we?

Photocredit: Mean Girls/Demeliou

Excerpts from  the Julie Zerbo owned The Fashion Law Blog’s article follows (I have bolded and underlined some parts):

“Will the West Coast Ever be Fashion’s Best Coast?

In the U.S., New York is undoubtedly the fashion capital. Los Angeles, on the other hand, has typically been characterized as second-rate, the home of fast fashion, the Kardashians and Juicy Couture.  .  .

There is arguably something that stands in the way of the west coast, namely Los Angeles, emerging as a rival to New York, and it has nothing to do with the truly extraordinary design talent that resides there. In case you aren’t familiar with the geographic divide that exists in fashion law, here it is. Unlike much of the east coast: namely, New York (the home of the Council of Fashion Designers of America and various Made in NYC movements) and even DC (which the American Apparel and Footwear Association calls home), a largely anti-protectionist mindset dominates the industry in Los Angeles. It is not a coincidence that California is the home of the heavy hitters in fast fashion (think: Forever 21, Allen Schwartz, Nasty Gal, and other big businesses with lots of resources, many of which belong to the California Fashion Association). Hence, the major lobbying power behind such fast fashion and copying, and the opposition to design piracy prevention bills.

Luckily for most of the established Los Angeles-based brands, such as Libertine, Rodarte, and Irene Neuwirth, they are connected enough with New York fashion, to be the opposite side of the fence. The same goes for Slimane, who is quite obviously connected almost entirely to Paris, where entire designs are protected by law. So, while it seems that LA, as a whole, will remain a design piracy-friendly place, word to the emerging design brands that may not appreciate their originals designs being copied and hawked by fast fashion retailers: Design piracy is NOT “rite of passage” despite what you may hear.

Read Julie Zerbo’s The Fashion Law published article here.

Watch Mean Girls Trailer for Those Who Have Not Seen the Movie Referenced in my Article