Harvard Law R.A.P. with Berklee

The Harvard Law R.A.P. may conjure images of iced-out beat-boxers briefing cases in a dusty old library. However, this clinical program offered by one of the world’s best law schools is an enormous opportunity for Berklee students. R.A.P. stands for “Recording Artist Program”, and for several years it has served as a boon for musicians in the Boston area who wish to receive excellent legal counsel and services, free of charge.
Many musicians at Berklee seek legal advice and services from Harvard Law School students via the R.A.P. program every year. Some services offered include contract drafting and negotiating with record labels, production companies, and or acting as mediators in setting up band agreements. These services are an amazing resource for musicians from Berklee, as well as those of the greater Boston area. However, there is also a tremendous opportunity available to music business students at Berklee who have an interest in the legal side of the music industry.
It’s well known that Harvard Law School students are some of the most talented aspiring attorneys in the entire world. However, while they possess a strong understanding of the many facets of a legal document, their understanding of the music industry, and the specific issues that can affect an artist are often not quite as strong. This is where Berklee music business students can offer much to the R.A.P. Our knowledge of all areas of the music industry helps the Harvard Law students not only understand certain clauses and provisions contained within music contracts and agreements, but also how the different parties are effected by them.
A typical R.A.P. team is usually made up of three or four Harvard Students, and one or two Berklee music business students. Once we are broken into teams we are then assigned to a client. The client can either be a single musician, a band, or even a business.
My team is currently counseling a singer/songwriter who has been presented with a recording contract. As counselors, it is our job to find out the artist’s goals, as well as what the artist wants to gain out of the contract. The R.A.P. team then analyzes the contract by deciding what is fair, not fair, or needs defining, and then negotiates the contract with the recording company.
While the R.A.P. is a lot of fun, extremely educational, and offers great benefits to all parties involved, it is a big responsibility. Everyone on the team is essentially practicing law under the bar license of the program’s director. The actions we take as legal counsel can have serious consequences. While this may seem disconcerting to some, it really just raises the bar of what this program is able to teach you about mediating on the legal side of the music industry.
Like many other current music business majors at Berklee, I am a prospective student of law. Being able to participate in the R.A.P. program has been a great chance to see what working as an entertainment attorney could potentially be like.



3 Replies to “Harvard Law R.A.P. with Berklee”

  1. This is great! I was wondering id this two collage would ever or have ever worked together. I would love to hear more about this.

  2. We are a non profit and LLC doing work to promote music education to underserved areas of the world.
    We need pro bono legal advice. Can you tell whether we would qualify to receive help/advice from your group?
    Thank you in advance
    Steven Kirby

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