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Goodbye, “The Paper Chase,” hello, “Max Headroom”. Or so it would seem at New Orleans’ Tulane Law School, which is offering an Internet and entertainment law course taught by talking video heads. The heads hail from Loeb & Loeb, a Los Angeles-based firm strong in the entertainment and media industries. Edward Sherman Jr., a seventh-year entertainment associate at the firm, came up with the idea for the 14-week, upper-level course, which covers the law, in essence, of entertainment-related Web sites. Students are learning how to license audiovisual content for a Web site or how to negotiate deals with companies that want to advertise on a site. Sherman — whose father, Edward, happens to be Tulane’s law dean — enlisted 11 fellow lawyers from the firm’s New York and Los Angeles offices to help teach. Once a week, one or more of the lawyers retreat to a firm conference room linked, via phone lines and television monitors, to the New Orleans classroom. (Sherman attended the first class in person, and will be there for the last class.) The videoconference system allows for complete and near-instantaneous interaction between students and instructors on both coasts. Without the technology, the class would have never happened, says Sherman. “With the expense of flying attorneys to New Orleans for every class and everyone’s busy schedule,” he says, “I couldn’t have been able to co-opt [11] attorneys to do it.” The class has been an early hit — it was closed an hour after the spring registration period began, and the waiting list swelled to nearly 40 students. Sherman sees it as good PR for Loeb & Loeb: “The firm wants to promote the idea that we are experts in new-media and entertainment law, and how better to do that than by stepping into the classroom and dealing with the future leaders in those fields?” Indeed, Sherman’s idea was an easy sell to the powers that be at Loeb & Loeb. “We thought [the course] was a great idea and a great opportunity,” says partner Steven Pe�, co-chair of the firm’s iLaw practice group and one of the course instructors. “There was no hesitancy on anyone’s part. It was just a matter of figuring out the logistics.” A growing number of law schools like Tulane are offering instruction via videoconferencing, and some schools are importing faraway talent through Internet courses. Distance learning is not without its doubters. The essence of law school, after all, is the eagle-eyed instructor who paces lecture halls, zapping students with hypotheticals. The American Bar Association, which is charged with accrediting law schools, has placed some limits on distance learning. Classes that are beamed to students’ home computers, for example, are generally verboten. But when students are bunched together in a law school classroom, like at Tulane, professorial wisdom can be delivered through the ether. So the watchword in general is: Go slow. No one, though, can argue that technology doesn’t allow for greater access to expertise. Tulane could not have offered the seminar without the likes of Loeb & Loeb. “We have a competent bar in New Orleans,” says Lawrence Ponoroff, vice dean of the school, “but this was one area where we didn’t have the level of experience or expertise that we wanted locally.” Bernard Hibbitts, a legal history professor at the University of Pittsburgh School of Law, is bullish about the future of videoconference technology. He envisions constitutional law seminars, for example, that play host to U.S. Supreme Court justices as guest lecturers, without expecting them to venture too far from the courthouse at One First Street, N.E. “Or how about a business law class,” he says, “linked to New York with Wall Street lawyers, who may not come out to the provinces, as it were, that often.” Professor Martin Lipton does have a nice ring to it.

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