Top media lawyers in Derry next month

Some of the world’s leading media and entertainment lawyers arrive in Derry next month to teach a new course at the University of Ulster.

Led by New York-based SmithDehn LLP and joined by top attorneys at HBO, the legal reps will not only teach law students and graduates, but also train recruits for a possible new office of SmithDehn in Derry.

The Law School at the University of Ulster is accepting applications from students and graduates throughout Ireland and Britain for what’s described as an innovative, industry-collaborative, media law course taught by some of the best professionals in the field.

The teaching team will include two of the leading in-house lawyers at HBO - Viviane Eisenberg, Senior Vice President and Chief Counsel for Programming and Marketing, and Peter Rienecker, Vice President for Legal Affairs.

Leading the team will be New York-based Russell Smith, a co-founder of SmithDehn, which is now seeking to establish a second foothold in Europe through a Derry-based operation. Also teaching the UU module in the city will be Laura Farina, now a member of SmithDehn, but until recently Vice President for Legal Affairs at Discovery, in charge of all claims and litigation for Discovery’s dozens of television networks worldwide.

Other “Visiting Professors” planning to assist are legendary media insurance expert Chad Milton, as well as SmithDehn attorneys Frank Dehn, Michael Delehanty, Andrew Baker, Michael Cleaver, and Abhinav Chandan.

Also confirmed to attend is Prash Naik who has been head of legal at Channel 4 since 2008.

Overseeing and helping to design the course is Dr. Eugene McNamee, Head of the UU Law School, who says: “Partners from SmithDehn already have made multiple trips to the campus and they’ve interacted with dozens of law students here. The American lawyers told me they were very impressed with the energy, intelligence, and enthusiasm of the potential recruits available here. I understand that SmithDehn can hardly wait to educate, train, and hire participants in the module.”

The principal goal of the course is to create student employability to service the growing media and entertainment sector.

The attorneys at SmithDehn, who are spearheading the course, already have been retained by hundreds of film and television studios, production companies, and broadcast networks. Their client list stretches from HBO to Ali G/Borat; from Sony Pictures and ITV, to Paramount Pictures and Channel 4.

The target applicants for the course are law students and graduates (not necessarily professionally qualified) seeking to enhance their employability or upgrade their skills in relation to media law practice.

The course module will run at UU’s Magee campus over one semester on six alternate Saturdays, starting February 8, 2014; with class-times from 10am to 5pm (two 3 hour sessions with 1 hour lunch break). Interest is expected to be high and places are restricted to 25. Applications for a place should come in the form of a CV with a one-page covering letter explaining interest and motivation.

Applications will be accepted by email to, with the message subject line, “Media Law Module.” The deadline for applications is January 10, 2014.