When she applied to law school, Natalia Cianfaglione (’12) never dreamed that she’d be able to land a job as an entertainment lawyer straight out of law school. Her plan was to gain as much experience as possible in the entertainment industry through summer internships, but she assumed it would be years before she’d have the skills and network required to work in that area.
The Semester-in-Practice Program (SIP) fast-tracked that plan. Providing an opportunity for students to spend an entire semester working full-time for credit outside of Boston, the SIP allowed Cianfaglione to gain intensive hands-on experience in the business and legal affairs department of Reveille, a television production company in Los Angeles now doing business as Shine America.
Applying to the SIP’s independent proposal externship option, Cianfaglione specifically sought an entertainment law position in LA so that she could network and conduct job interviews in the entertainment hub, while gaining critical experience during her final spring semester. “My ability to work full-time as an extern was a huge plus for Shine, which is a growing company with a lot of projects in the unscripted, scripted and digital areas,” she says. The volume of projects meant plenty of real and substantial practical experience for Cianfaglione so it was a great fit.
"I was able to work on pretty much everything in the development and production areas like all of the releases and agreements that are involved with filming and producing a television show. For example, when a show goes into production, the producers need location agreements that give them the right to film on that location. For an unscripted television or digital show, the people being filmed need to sign appearance releases. I got the chance to work on all of the legal documents needed to bring cameras to a location, film, and use that footage,” she says.
"On the development side, I worked on the agreements for developing new shows. When our development team pitches an idea that we want to move forward, we may want to attach a producer or talent, like a host. Deals need to happen to move the idea forward,” adds Cianfaglione, noting that some of the shows that Shine is best known for -- and that she had the chance to work on as an extern -- include The Biggest Loser, MasterChef, Tabatha Takes Over, and a new show called The Face.
When the externship was over, her team sought to create a permanent position for her. “They needed the help and I had started to develop the necessary skills -- and I had developed strong relationships with my coworkers. I landed in this amazing place with people I love to work with every day. The SIP helped make that happen,” she says.
Now, as a manager in the business and legal affairs department at Shine, Cianfaglione continues to work on all of the agreements necessary to develop and produce shows, but in more of a lead role. She handles “production legal” on some shows, meaning that she is the contact for the producers if issues arise, such as the need to negotiate the terms of an agreement.
“BU Law provides a strong knowledge foundation you need to succeed in any industry as an attorney as well as the flexibility to create your own path forward with the SIP. By the time you interview for jobs, you can have real conversations about what you did and how you added value. Having gained that experience and built that network before graduation allowed me to land exactly where I wanted,” she says.