Editorial Staffer: Columbia Journal of Law & the Arts

By David Leys ’20 LL.M.



As a qualified lawyer of the Brussels Bar (Belgium), I gained experience in transactions and litigation with some exposure to intellectual property. Moreover, I advised and represented governments, businesses and associations with respect to international trade. Since intellectual property issues are growing in my practice, I decided to attend the LL.M. program at Columbia Law School in order to strengthen my expertise in that field of law. I also would like to represent clients who work in the music, film and fashion industries in New York and Los Angeles.


In September 2019, I was really happy that the Editor-in-Chief of the volume 43 of the Columbia Journal of Law & the Arts (commonly called JLA) selected me as an Editorial Staffer for the 2019-2020 academic year, as many renowned scholars, practitioners, judges and students have published articles in the JLA. 


Founded in 1975, the JLA is considered one of the most prestigious journals in the field. It is published four times a year (late fall, winter, early spring, and late spring) and covers issues of intellectual property (copyright, trademark and patent), entertainment, art, sports and communications industries to name but a few. 


The JLA generally accepts around 25 staffers each year. Most are 2Ls in the J.D. program. However, the JLA offers some seats to qualified LL.M. students. There also are 10 3Ls who make up the Editorial Board.


From the first week of my selection as an LL.M. staffer, I attended two compulsory trainings. The first was a general research training at the Arthur W. Diamond Law Library. The second was a specific training about the rules and opportunities of the JLA. Both sessions were very instructive and useful for my seminars, and more specifically for the course LL.M. Legal Research and Writing taught by the Professors Mariana Newman and Amanda Parsons.


As an LL.M. staffer to the JLA, I am committed to work eight weeks total during the academic year (two weeks for each of the four issues that are published). I accepted the role and responsibilities equivalent to that of a 2L staffer and typically spend about seven hours per week locating sources and checking citations. LL.M. staffers are responsible for collecting sources, checking citations, and basic proofreading of the articles published in the JLA. I directly report to one of the four Articles Editors, all of whom are 3Ls who were staffers the previous year.


For each issue of the JLA, I receive a draft of an article that the Editorial Board has accepted for publication. Then, I am assigned a particular section of that article. The length of the section usually corresponds to around 30 footnotes. I go through my assigned section and locate all the sources cited by the author in that section. This may mean downloading PDFs of articles, statutes and cases but also finding and scanning books in the Columbia library system. Once I have located all the sources, I make sure each source supports what the author is saying and collect copies of the sources to send to my Articles Editor. The deadline for this step is typically one week after I initially receive my assignment.


After, I check all the citations in the footnotes of my section to make sure they are in proper Bluebook format. If they are not, it is my responsibility to suggest the appropriate edits to my Articles Editor. In this step, I proofread the body of the text for grammar/style issues and typos, and suggest any edits to my Articles Editor. The deadline for this step is usually one more week after the sources are due (i.e., about two weeks after I initially receive my assignment).


When I am done with gathering sources, checking citations, and proofreading, the Editorial Board takes over. Over the following few weeks, each article is reviewed by an Articles Editor, the Production Editor, the Executive Articles Editor, and the Editor-in-Chief of the JLA. After the authors sign off on edits, the issue goes to print.


Until now, I have worked on three articles: “Dron’t Stop Me Now: Prioritizing Drone Journalism in Commercial Drone Regulation,” “IP Trade War” and “How much should being accommodate becoming? Copyright in dynamic and permeable art.” 



Beyond this JLA commitment for the academic year, I attended the Kernochan Center for Law, Media and the Arts Symposium in early October 2019. As an LL.M. staffer, I volunteered to help out for the set-up of the conference room and timed the speakers. It was such a great opportunity to hear the ideas of prominent scholars in the fields of intellectual property and arts. The topic of the Symposium was “Exploring Copyrightability and Scope of Protection.” For instance, the first panel discussed the challenge new art forms pose to the traditional contours of copyright such as authorship and fixation.


Furthermore, I published one JLA Beat during the fall term entitled “Atlanta: a Top-Notch Location for the Film and Television Industry.” For the spring term, I am going to publish a second one about “The Legal Challenges of New York Fashion Week.”



I strongly believe that it is an added-value to be part of the JLA as I want to be exposed to complex legal issues in intellectual property and entertainment. In addition, I want to deepen my knowledge of the current issues in the field and to meet practitioners in entertainment law. Finally, I love building enriching relationship with JD students.


My experience at the JLA allows me to acquire excellent skills such as attention to detail, English-language writing skills, application of all relevant Bluebook rules and time-management skills. Last but not least, it gives me confidence to have instructive and enjoyable talks about entertainment issues with celebrities such as Nicky Hilton, Julianne Moore and Marla Maples!



David Leys is an LL.M. student from Belgium. He is a Research Assistant to Professor Bradford, an Editorial Staffer at the Columbia Journal of Law & the Arts (Vol. 43), a Board Rep for the Symposium Committee of the Entertainment, Arts, and Sports Law Society, and a Leader for the State Attorney’s Office for Florida’s Fourth Judicial Circuit Pro Bono Caravan. Before he came to Columbia Law School, he earned his Master in Law from Université Catholique de Louvain and an LL.M. in European Law from College of Europe in Bruges. Finally, he practiced international trade law at Sidley Austin and McGuireWoods as well as commercial law, company law, civil law and litigation at Justinian Lawyers.