$6 million in gifts boosts entertainment law program

Entertainment and media law have long been strengths at UCLA School of Law, and the school’s leadership in the field was enhanced with the establishment four years ago of the Ziffren Center for Media, Entertainment, Technology and Sports Law. Now, the program is taking another giant step forward.

The Patricia W. Mitchell Trusts, which earlier this year donated $20 million to UCLA’s School of Theater, Film and Television, have given $3 million to the law school. The trusts were established by Patricia Mitchell, the late wife of longtime Columbia Pictures executive John H. Mitchell.

Ken Ziffren, a 1965 UCLA Law alum whose $5 million gift in 2015 established the center focused on media and entertainment law, invested an additional $2.5 million. Ziffren is a longtime leader in the television and film industry and is co-founder of the entertainment law firm Ziffren Brittenham.

With matching funds from the UCLA Centennial Chancellor’s Scholarship Match, the total value of the gifts is nearly $6.2 million.

Because of the infusion of funds and expansion of the center’s reach and vision, the Ziffren Center has been renamed the Ziffren Institute for Media, Entertainment, Technology and Sports Law.

“Our goal from the start has been to establish UCLA Law as the pre-eminent institution for those who seek to master the law and the intricacies of the media and entertainment business, and for them to take the industry forward,” Ziffren said. “The generous gift from the Mitchell Trusts, along with the great support we receive from our alumni and the law school’s innovative educational approach, have paved the way for us to reach that goal.”

Gift funds will:

  • Create the John H. and Patricia W. Mitchell Achievement Fellowship — an endowed full-tuition award for academically qualified students who are interested in pursuing a career in entertainment law and who have overcome significant obstacles on their path to law school. This is part of UCLA Law’s broader Achievement Fellowships program.
  • Create the separate John H. Mitchell and Patricia W. Mitchell Endowed Law School Scholarship for additional Ziffren Institute students, who will be known as UCLA Law Mitchell Scholars.
  • Launch the John H. Mitchell Visiting Scholars initiative to deepen the interaction between current students and accomplished alumni. The initiative builds on the success of the existing “Lunch with the Corner Office” program, which brings corporate executives and attorneys from entertainment companies to the school to talk with current students.
  • Support new curriculum in the areas of ethics and the future of the entertainment business. Starting in 2020, the school will offer the John H. Mitchell Signature Course on Ethics and Entertainment and the John H. Mitchell Future of Entertainment Initiative.
  • Support professional training for attorneys already working in the field. The UCLA Entertainment Symposium — the annual two-day gathering of leading lawyers and executives in the field that has taken place at UCLA for 43 years — will add the John H. Mitchell Panel on Ethics and Entertainment, a new Minimum Continuing Legal Education training program for practitioners.

A pioneering television studio executive, John Mitchell joined Screen Gems productions in 1952 as one of its original employees, went on to become its president and founded Screen Gems’ successor, Columbia Pictures Television. During his tenure as president of Columbia, from 1968 to 1977, the studio produced more than 100 television series and 50 TV movies, including “Brian’s Song,” which won five Emmy Awards, “Bewitched,” “Route 66” and “Police Story.” Mitchell later served three terms as president of the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences.

Patricia Mitchell, formerly known as Pat Windsor, was a singer and performer who appeared at venues across the country before shifting her focus to family, community service and philanthropy.

Bill Allen, who serves as the trustee of the Mitchell Trusts and whose parents, Steve Allen and Jayne Meadows, were friends with John and Patricia Mitchell, said the new programs and student support align precisely with the Mitchells’ goals.

“The entertainment industry is experiencing unprecedented change, from the fast pace of technological innovation and consumer habits to the growth of global competition,” said Allen, who is also CEO of the Los Angeles County Economic Development Corporation. “UCLA’s commitment to public service and the law school’s well-earned reputation as offering the top entertainment law program in the country make it the perfect place to invest in a strong and diverse talent pool, training in ethics and a robust educational program that prepares the workforce of the future.”

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