By Andrew Cohen
Analyzing securities law restrictions on social media-based fundraising may not sound glamorous. But try telling that to Titilayo Tinubu ’13, whose paper on the topic paved a red-carpet path to the Grammy Awards—and a $1,500 scholarship.
Tinubu was one of five student finalists in the 2013 Entertainment Law Initiative Writing Competition. As a result, she received airfare, hotel accommodations, prime seats to the Feb. 10 Grammy Awards, and invitations to several high-powered events—including a luncheon scholarship ceremony at the Beverly Hills Hotel.
The Grammy Foundation created the Entertainment Law Initiative in 1998 to promote discussion about compelling legal issues facing the music industry. It encourages the nation’s top law students to pursue careers in entertainment law and provides invaluable networking and educational opportunities.
“It was an incredible experience,” Tinubu said. “Entertainment law is hard to break into, so it was surreal to see all these top lawyers in the field and people whose books I’ve read in class seeking us out to talk. They were very welcoming and seemed genuinely interested in helping the next generation of entertainment lawyers.”
Tinubu developed her paper, Fan Finance: Alternatives To Securities Restrictions On Social Media-Based Fundraising, in her Fall 2011 Entertainment Law, TV, and Film course. It was taught by Berkeley Law alum Paul Marchegiani ’03, the head of Business and Legal Affairs at NBC Universal, who commuted weekly from Los Angeles to lead the course.
“At the time, a proposed securities law contained a provision that would expand investment options for everyday people,” Tinubu said. “I wanted to see how that could be used in entertainment, which led to my paper on financing creative projects in the music industry.”
In Spring 2012, Tinubu attended an entertainment law symposium at UCLA, where she met Facebook’s marketing director. After sharing her ideas about employing social media to raise fan money for film production, she was asked to send along her research. She soon received an invitation to attend a panel discussion on the subject at Facebook’s New York office. The panel host, New York Women in Film and Television, distributed her paper to all who attended.
“I’ve always been interested in the intersection of finance and entertainment law,” Tinubu said. Before law school, she helped athletes and entertainers launch nonprofits while a program associate for Living Cities, a New York City philanthropic collaborative of 22 major foundations and financial institutions. “I’ve done a lot of research on how securities law can better engage lower-income people and people in minority communities. Opening opportunities to the general public creates a lot more possibilities for supporting many different kinds of businesses,” she said.
Law school success is nothing new for Tinubu. A member of Berkeley Law’s Board of Advocates last year, she and partner Adam Sterling ’13 won the West Region championship of the ABA Mediation Competition. She has also received two Prosser Prizes for earning the second highest grade in a class, and has worked for the East Bay Community Law Center, the Berkeley Business Law Journal, and the Berkeley Journal of Sports and Entertainment Law.
Last semester, Tinubu was a legal extern in New York City for Rush Communications, the holding company for Russell Simmons’ media, fashion, financial, and nonprofit ventures. She worked on federal and state employment law compliance, copyright disputes, and nonprofit tax matters and helped create a course for the Clive Davis Institute of Music on how artists can leverage social media.
This fall, Tinubu will return to the San Francisco office of Morgan, Lewis & Bockius, where she was a summer associate in 2012. In the meantime, she is “trying to convince myself that the whole Grammy experience really happened. I told myself not to freak out when we saw a celebrity, but it still took about 30 times for it to feel even remotely normal.”
Photo caption: Titilayo Tinubu ’13, front row center, with her fellow Entertainment Law Initiative Award winners and (back row from left) Ron Conway, Special Adviser to SV Angel; Neil Portnow, President/CEO of The Recording Academy; Tom Brokaw, NBC News Special Correspondent; Kristen Madsen, Senior Vice President of the Grammy Foundation; Rusty Rueff, Grammy Foundation Board. Photo by Michael Kovac/WireImage