Joint Degree Student Voices the Voiceless

Joint Degree Student Voices the Voiceless

Catherine Perez
Catherine Perez

If recent J.D./LL.M. in Entertainment, Arts, and Sports Law graduate Catherine Perez’s past is any indication of forthcoming success, the future should brace for impact.

Last spring, the Miami Public Interest Scholar did research with the University of Miami’s Lowe Art Museum, helping them confirm that they are in compliance with the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act, updates to which the Department of Interior recently proposed.

At the same time, Perez was the administrator of the Hoffman Forum, an annual program addressing issues at the intersection of law, public policy, the arts, and social justice. She organized a panel on whether non-fungible tokens provide greater access into the primary market for artists that traditional gallery spaces have underrepresented.

“I think my status as a first-generation college graduate and being a Latina in law school encouraged me to seek opportunities that affect underrepresented and under-advocated communities,” Perez said. “I have a passion for the arts and more specifically artist rights; this has led to a fascination of the intersection of the arts with web 3.0 and blockchain technologies.”

The Miami Scholars program encourages students to obtain practical work through clinics and so early in her Miami Law career, Perez worked with Miami Law’s Tenants’ Rights Clinic at the end of the eviction moratorium, helping clients obtain rental assistance to avoid future eviction. She saw firsthand the critical impact legal aid services have on local communities.

During her 1L year, Perez learned about the joint degree program and was admitted. “The program and its directors were instrumental in my success and interest in art law,” she said. “Specifically, I was so lucky to have found mentorship in Dean Greg Levy and Professor Stephen Urice, both of whom provide unmatched expertise and leadership in their fields.”

Perez also facilitated conversations and panels on campus through her involvement on the planning committee for Miami Law’s Global Entertainment & Sports Law + Industry Conference by organizing discussions about intellectual property rights for graffiti artists and the social and cultural impact of smart public infrastructure projects.

Internships, Clinics, and Career Development in Law School

As a rising 2L, Perez earned a highly competitive legal internship at the National Trust for Historic Preservation, where she gained nonprofit experience in their general counsel’s office. In 2021, Perez secured a prestigious legal internship in the Office of the General Counsel at the Smithsonian Institution, preparing explanatory memorandums on blockchain technology and whether the Smithsonian should accept donations of cryptocurrency.

“Throughout my time at UM I worked closely with my career adviser, Diane Quick. When I came to her for the first time as a 1L interested in art law, she helped me search for worthwhile opportunities, keep track of deadlines, and prepare for interviews. I am so grateful for her help as the Office of Career and Professional Development truly played an important role in my professional success while at UM,” Perez said.

Future Awaits

“From my first day at UM, the Miami Scholars program helped me build a pro bono ethic that I plan to maintain after graduation,” Perez said. “The program not only made it possible for me to attend law school, but also presented opportunities and encouraged conversations for becoming involved with the greater Miami community.”

Perez spent the past summer in New York as an incoming summer associate at Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman LLP, a global law firm focusing on technology and the media, energy, financial, and real estate industries. After passing the bar, she intends to gain valuable experience in New York while maintaining her pro bono ethic through involvement with the arts nonprofits.

“I felt remarkably supported throughout my time at UM. My involvement with the Miami Scholars and EASL programs, coupled with the guidance received through the career office, has been professionally liberating as I continue to explore the art law field. I am so proud and lucky to be a ‘Cane.”