Michelle Davis loves the music industry so much that she decided to pursue her Juris Doctor at UGA so that she could serve as a legal advocate for musicians and artists.
Norcross High School
A.B.J. in public relations from UGA, 2005
University highlights, achievements, awards and scholarships:
My path to the music industry began as a UGA undergrad, where I had the opportunity to book concerts as a board member of the University Union and share my favorite new artists as a WUOG DJ. I interned with radio stations, record labels and publicists before starting my own music PR firm senior year. Eventually I took on the role of music editor at Flagpole Magazine, where I spent four years exploring and documenting Athens’ vibrant music scene. Fascinated by the complex and evolving relationship between music and technology, I decided to pursue a degree in law in order to better serve as an advocate for artists.
I currently serve as president of the Sports and Entertainment Law Society at Georgia Law, and I have been an active member of the organization all three years of law school. Through SELS I have sought to empower local artists by organizing and curating educational networking events such as the Protect Athens Music Conference and the 2014 Athens Music Business Expo.
I am the senior articles editor of the Journal of Intellectual Property Law. In addition to editing articles by leading scholars, judges and attorneys, I had the opportunity to help organize our first Music and Technology Conference that took place on March 27. Featured panelists included some of the Southeast’s most respected entertainment attorneys plus technologists and policymakers from D.C. and beyond.
My professors have taken note of my dedication to the field of intellectual property by nominating me to join the Atlanta IP Inn of Court as a pupil.
I was honored this year as one of five finalists in the Grammy Foundation’s Entertainment Law Initiative Writing Competition for my paper titled “Introducing The Rightscoin: Using Block Chains to Track Copyright Ownership.” I never imagined that I would get to attend the Grammys as a law student!
Fall of my 2L year, I took advantage of Georgia Law’s amazing D.C. Semester in Practice program. I was able to work as a legal policy extern for one of my favorite organizations, the Future of Music Coalition. As a full-time extern, I researched a wide range of issues impacting the entertainment industry—including digital revenue streams, piracy and copyright policy—and published weekly articles on FMC’s website analyzing intellectual property cases, congressional hearings and policy news. I also moderated the music journalism panel at the Future of Music Policy Summit in 2013 and served as a featured speaker at the summit the following year.
I returned to D.C. last summer to work as law clerk with the general counsel of National Public Radio. I drafted licensing contracts and researched issues such as publicity rights, infringement liability, broadcast retransmissions and First Amendment issues. I was also honored to help draft NPR’s official comments filed with the FCC advocating net neutrality.
During my final semester, I am finally in a position to provide supervised, legal counseling via the Business Law Clinic. My clients include local nonprofits, entrepreneurs and small businesses.
Outside the classroom, I led a successful campaign to add Athens to the national network of BandSwap cities in order to facilitate new touring opportunities, professional industry contacts and community support for emerging artists. I also enjoy volunteering with AthensPets.net.
Family Ties to UGA:
My parents emigrated here from Poland, so as a first-generation American I am also a first-generation Georgia grad. However, my cousin attended Georgia just a couple years after me, and I imagine I’ll be sending future generations here before long!
I chose to attend UGA because…
I have chosen UGA not once, but twice! As an undergraduate, I chose UGA because I was impressed by the journalism program, and it was hard to beat free tuition (thanks, HOPE Scholarship!). By my senior year, I had totally fallen in love with the Georgia campus, the city of Athens and my future husband. After working in Atlanta for a few years, I came back to Athens to serve as the music editor of Athens alt-weekly Flagpole Magazine. I got married and settled down here in the Classic City, and when I decided it was time to pursue my dream of becoming an attorney, UGA was the only school to which I applied. I am proud to be a Double Dawg.
My favorite things to do on campus are…
… strolling through the Founders Memorial Garden in the spring. Browsing the interactive exhibits at the Russell Special Collections Building. Listening to the amazing speakers hosted by the Willson Center for Humanities and Arts. Attending concerts at the Hugh Hodgson School of Music.
When I have free time, I like…
… to see as much live music as possible downtown!
The craziest thing I've done is…
… sing a song by my favorite band at a karaoke competition in New York judged by the singer of the band himself. He gave me a 9/10. I would have won the whole thing, but I got upstaged by a 9-year-old. Kids these days, right?
My favorite place to study is…
… Sandy Creek Park. In late spring or early fall, when the weather is absolutely perfect in Georgia, I like to take my books, a blanket and my three dogs to the private dog parks there. The pups get their exercise running around and playing while I study in the sunshine, free of technological distractions.
My favorite professor is…
… David Shipley. I met professor Shipley just a few weeks after I found out I was accepted to Georgia Law, but before classes had started. The idea of going back to school was intimidating and overwhelming at times, but professor Shipley was so warm and encouraging, it really put my mind at ease. It also turned out he taught my favorite class, “Copyright Law,” and he has been incredibly supportive of all my academic endeavors over the last three years—from serving as an adviser for several research projects to offering his time as a moderator for Protect Athens Music, the JIPL Conference and more.
If I could share an afternoon with anyone, I would love to share it with…
If we can pick someone living or deceased, my choice is John Lennon. Thanks in large part to my dad’s influence, I became hugely obsessed with The Beatles when I was kid. I actually took notes when the “Beatles Anthology” aired on TV in 1995. I loved the music, but I needed to learn more, to dig deeper. I was a uniquely studious sort of music fan, so it’s no wonder I ended up working as a music journalist. I would do anything for the opportunity to hear John’s perspective on how the industry has changed over the decades and to express my gratitude for his inspiring music!
If the question is limited to someone alive, I’d happily have tea with my second favorite Beatle, Paul McCartney. I was named after one of his songs, after all! All those decades later, he continues to create, collaborate and inspire.
If I knew I could not fail, I would…
… start a record label. I would love to provide a platform for artists to launch their careers and to offer whatever financial and creative support they need along the way.
If money was not a consideration, I would love to…
… travel the world. I’d be particularly interested in exploring the world’s most beautiful and exotic beaches, like Seychelles, Tahiti, the Maldives and beyond.
After graduation, I plan to…
… take the Georgia Bar and then do research for the Future of Music Coalition and offer legal services to artists.
The one UGA experience I will always remember will be…
… performing stand-up comedy at Law Revue! The Law School’s annual talent show is always such a blast, and I love seeing my classmates on stage sharing all their hidden talents.