Catching Up with Entertainment Lawyer and Preceptor Loren Zitomersky
BURBANK, CA - Loren Zitomersky (JD '09) answers our call from his office on the Walt Disney Studios lot, the same place where Disney's first full length animated feature, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, came to life in the 1930s. This is also where Walt Disney masterminded cinematic magic that would endure for generations. As Associate Principal Counsel at Walt Disney Studios, Loren oversees the legal affairs for motion picture production including script clearances, locations contracts, and talent agreements. "Did you see the new Beauty and the Beast?" he asks. Two years ago he was drawing up contracts as the movie's production attorney, and quicker than Cogsworth can strike twelve, the film has become a major theatrical success.
Loren embodies the values of a Pepperdine legal education: purpose, service, and leadership. As a mentor with the Parris Institute for Professional Formation Preceptor Program, Loren models professionalism and helps students navigate their first year at the School of Law. He offers an open and honest mentorship program for 1L students looking to gain insight into the realities of a career in entertainment law. In addition, Loren is an exemplary community member, leading an ongoing campaign to raise money for the Epilepsy Foundation of Greater Los Angeles (EFGLA). To date, Loren (with the help of his father and supporters) has raised over $250,000.
With entertainment law degrees seeing a phenomenal growth in demand, Loren exemplifies the impact Pepperdine's network of preceptors and alumni may have on a graduate's career.
"There are so many people that have been instrumental and helpful in my career."
When he started at Pepperdine Law, Loren assumed he would practice real estate law. Almost immediately, however, he realized this was not the route for him. A lifelong movie buff, perhaps the inevitable consequence of growing up around a father employed by Universal Studios, Loren considered a career in entertainment law. In a notoriously competitive field, Loren gathered experience from the ground up. The summer after his first year, throughPepperdine's Career Development Office (CDO), Loren secured an internship with the Yari Film Group. Another alum and preceptor, Christa Zofcin (JD '97/MBA '01), worked as an attorney at Yari and was instrumental in facilitating this initial experience in entertainment law.
"There's this misconception that you have to be George Clooney's niece."
The accessibility and power of networking sets Pepperdine Law apart from its competitors. A simple informational phone call, Loren explains, can pay dividends. "If there's an attorney position, we may get more than 600 applications from qualified candidates, so having that recommendation from someone within the group or company can be instrumental." With so many people that aspire to work in entertainment, reaching out to one's network is crucial. Loren gives his time, expertise, and personal advice to young legal professionals, just as his own mentors gave him.
During his 2L year, the Career Development Office set Loren up with a mentor, Allison Mella Strina (JD '01), who secured him a part time law clerk position. Following his 2L year, Loren earned an internship with Disney, an experience he describes as comprehensive, organized, and "so invaluable." Even so, it wasn't mouse ears and Mary Poppins from the start. After graduating, Loren worked at the Blakely Law group, founded by Brent Blakely (JD '91) - another alum of Pepperdine Law. When the time came to move on, Loren found himself struggling to break into the legal entertainment field with minimal experience. Persistence paid off when, through a temporary agency, Loren was hired by Walt Disney Studios. He decided to take what he describes as a "big risk," considering the high level of uncertainty as to whether the job would translate into a full time position. Eventually, Loren's temporary hire turned into a job as a paralegal and, in just over a year's time, he interviewed and landed his current attorney position at Walt Disney Studios.
"Before I know it, we're shooting a film!"
In order to break into the entertainment law profession, Loren stresses the importance of simply learning to be a good lawyer. "Very few companies hire straight out of law school," he says. "Give four or five years with a medium to large firm, and this experience will make you very valuable to studios." In between Disney business, Loren stays busy. He tells us that his experience with preceptees has been fantastic. He is impressed by students' initiative, follow through, and commitment to strengthening their legal network. He has even welcomed his 1L mentees to the Disney lot for what is surely an incomparable look inside a top tier entertainment corporation.