WEB EXCLUSIVE: Alumni Profile: Ronald Bienstock '81

In this issue of Res Ipsa Online, we pull back the curtain on the practice of entertainment law and hear stories from California Western alumni representing some of the industry’s biggest players. Plus, Dean Schaumann talks more about the opportunities and challenges facing legal education, and an update on the football career of Brian Banks, featured in last issue’s cover story.

The Practice of Entertainment Law
When Star Wars creator George Lucas was negotiating his production contract with Fox in 1975, he knew the value of a good entertainment lawyer. With visionary determination, his legal counsel contracted for ownership of licensing and merchandising rights, in lieu of a director’s salary. As a result, Lucas became one of the American film industry's most financially successful filmmakers. Entertainment and sports attorneys are closely linked to actors, artists, and sports figures, as well as the production and distribution of creative works. While the notion of representing celebrities and their employers seems glamorous, the practice of entertainment law is not.

Alumni Profile: Ronald Bienstock '81
It would be difficult to find a happier California Western alumnus than Ron Bienstock. For more than 25 years he’s been able to pursue his twin passions - law and music. In his day job at Bienstock & Michael, he's one of the industry's most respected entertainment law and IP attorneys. In his spare time, he's a talented bass player whose rock group, "The Suits," has appeared on various television shows including "Late Night with Conan O'Brien."

The Future of Legal Education
Despite a host of challenges facing legal education and the practice of law, opportunities exist today for transforming the legal landscape. If carried out across the country, they would help create a future in which law firms can hire ready-to-work graduates, and meet the growing unmet needs for legal services in the community. Given the current negative environment, this is an optimistic and ambitious vision, but it emanates from someone on the front lines who has the desire and energy to see it realized: Dean Niels B. Schaumann, who is approaching his first anniversary at the helm of California Western School of Law. Schaumann is fully aware of the problems and is quick to acknowledge that critical structural problems in legal education must be addressed.

Faculty Scholarship: Internet Drug Pushers Targeting Teens
It's a scary online world out there. While you think your kids are safely updating their Facebook pages or Tweeting their friends, they may, in fact, be buying Oxycodone or birth control pills without a prescription. Unfortunately, we've found in our research that the online pharmacy world is just a new, dark street corner - but the new thug and drug dealer is now easily available to anyone with an internet connection. Although it is illegal to sell pharmaceuticals online without a prescription, not only are "no prescription necessary" on-line drug pushers still flooding the internet, they are targeting our teens through social media.

Faculty Publications: Recent Work from Our Community of Scholars

Members of the California Western faculty contribute to a broader understanding of the law through their teaching and scholarship.
  • Associate Dean William J. Aceves with Gershon Shafir and Everard Meade
  • Professor James M. Cooper with Christine Hunefeldt
  • Professor Arthur W. Campbell
  • Professor Barbara J. Cox with Mary Barnard Ray
  • Professor Jacquelyn H. Slotkin with Samantha Slotkin-Goodman

Brian Maienschein: From California Western to the State Capitol
As the newest California State Assembly member representing northern San Diego, Brian K. Maienschein '94 looks to his experience as a two-term member of the San Diego City Council and the first Commissioner to End Chronic Homelessness to help guide him as he grapples with statewide issues related to health, the environment, and business. He also draws on his experience as an attorney and the legal skills he gained at California Western to craft quality legislation and build coalitions among his colleagues in the Assembly and Senate.

712 Miles in 55 Days: Walking for "The California 12"
Between April and June, Professor Justin Brooks and attorneys Alissa Bjerkhoel and Michael Semanchik walked more than 700 miles from San Diego to Sacramento. The goal of the Innocence March is to protest the incarceration of 12 men and women who remain in prison despite compelling evidence of innocence. Members of the California Western community, exonerees and their families, and supporters of the cause of justice joined the marchers along the route, culminating in a rally at the State Capitol and the delivery of clemency petitions for "The California 12" to representatives of Governor Jerry Brown.

Brian Banks: An Update on Our Last Cover Story
Since he appeared on the cover of the last Res Ipsa, much has changed for California Innocence Project exoneree Brian Banks. "I can't believe this is happening," Banks says. "To lose it all and then to wake up one day and have it come back, it's a very humbling, spiritual feeling. It's something that you just don't want to take for granted."

Resources for New Attorneys
Career Services works diligently to provide job search assistance and career advice for California Western students and alumni, helping facilitate a seamless transition from law school into practice. The office is a conduit to law firms, public interest organizations, and government agencies for students seeking summer associate, law clerk, and attorney positions. While many graduates choose to stay in Southern California, the office receives a broad range of job listings from firms and agencies throughout the country. Asha Wilbun '05 (pictured) works specifically with third year students and recent graduates to help target employers and secure post-graduate positions.

Opportunities for Engagement and Support
There are many ways to give back to your alma mater. The Career Services, Admissions, and Alumni Relations departments offer a variety of volunteer opportunities and ways to engage with current and prospective students.

Abbe S. Wolfsheimer '72
A San Diegan who describes her eight-year stint on the City Council as a "third career," Abbe S. Wolfsheimer '72 understands the importance of higher education in facilitating professional advancement. Wolfsheimer recently endowed to California Western School of Law The Second Career Scholarship, designed particularly for students who are transitioning into a legal career. "I consider my time at California Western to be the most valuable component of my entire education," she says.

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