Less than one year out of law school and just weeks after passing the bar exam, Chapman University Dale E. Fowler School of Law alumnus and video game enthusiast Jack Anderson (JD ’15) found himself in a very unexpected place as a first-year associate at Blizzard Entertainment, the video game developer known for blockbuster games such as World of Warcraft, StarCraft and Diablo. That he would end up there was not so much a surprise as the fact that he was the first ever first-year associate hired by the company.
While Anderson certainly focused on entertainment law as a student – he served as president of the Entertainment and Sports Law Society and co-founded the Entertainment and Sports Law Symposium – he had never had more specific plans beyond doing transactional work in the entertainment industry. That all changed after taking Video Game Law taught by Professor Eric Roeder, VP & General Counsel for Blizzard Entertainment, in his second year.
“I didn’t even know that in-house legal jobs existed in the video game industry before taking Eric’s class,” he said. “I’ve played games for years, but it didn’t take much time in Eric’s class for me to decide that video game law was where I wanted to be.”
After getting to know Professor Roeder over the semester, Anderson asked if Blizzard Entertainment needed a legal intern. Professor Roeder advised that the position didn’t exist. So, Anderson asked again….and again (nicely)…until Professor Roeder offered to send resumes from his class on to Blizzard’s corporate affiliate, Activision Blizzard in Santa Monica. Anderson ended up landing a summer internship with Activision Blizzard, where he did his best to make an impact and connect with Blizzard Entertainment at every opportunity. Eventually, he found himself splitting time between the Activision and Blizzard Entertainment offices. His summer internship evolved into an externship with Blizzard Entertainment in his final year of law school. By the time bar results were posted in December, he had an official job offer as an in-house lawyer.
Now, Anderson spends his days on everything from negotiating and drafting e-sports event production deals to helping advise game developers on copyright and trademark issues for various games. He says that his work makes playing his favorite games exceptionally rewarding.
“It’s a cool feeling to see things that I’ve had a hand in end up in the games I play,” he said. “I work with so many amazingly talented people – I am in awe every time I see the level of detail and thoughtfulness that goes into the things they create. I feel incredibly lucky to be a part of the support group that helps bring these games to life.”
Anderson credits a great deal of his success to the practical training from entertainment law classes taught by Fowler School of Law’s excellent entertainment law faculty, including Professors Kathy Heller, Mary Lee Ryan and Roeder, but his perseverance, networking skills and eagerness to take advantage of every opportunity as a student surely helped along the way.
“Building personal relationships is crucial,” he said. “You’ll never be in a position to get these opportunities if you don’t put yourself out there.”
He said the transition from extern to associate has had a steep learning curve, but he’s more appreciative than ever for the foundation Fowler School of Law’s entertainment law courses laid for him.
“Because they’ve never had a first-year associate before, it’s definitely been a ‘learn by doing’ kind of training process,” he said. “But, what I learned in Professor Heller and Ryan’s entertainment law classes is exactly what I do every day.”
One of the most valuable lessons Anderson said he got at Fowler was a final project in Professor Heller’s Negotiating & Drafting Entertainment Law Transactions course, where he was expected to close negotiations on a complicated agreement with a fellow student using only email and Microsoft Word redlines.
“I was shocked to discover that that’s how it actually works in the real world,” he said. “The practical things that Fowler professors teach are spot-on. I think a lot of students don’t realize it.”
Above: Jack Anderson with a larger than life statue of ‘Grommash Hellscream’ from World of Warcraft at Blizzard HQ”