McGeorge School of Law

Student, Professor Combine Forces For Entertaining Article

December 3, 2009

McGeorge students often develop a student-mentor with a favorite law professor, but Joseph Thuesen, '10, took it a step farther when he enticed Professor Thomas Brierton into co-authoring an article that they unveiled together at a prestigious fall conference.

"Protecting the Child Performer's Pocketbook from the Parents: Looking Forward to the Next 70 Years Under Coogan's Law" was presented on October 9, 2009, at the Rocky Mountain Academy of Legal Studies in Business Annual Conference in Vail, Colorado.

"Here at McGeorge, I've had a lot of wonderful professors who have encouraged me in my studies," said Thuesen. "When I mentioned a possible article to Professor Brierton, he immediately validated its potential because very little had been written on the subject. We worked on it together along with a business professor from Canada [Professor Peter Bowal, University of Calgary]." It's still taking shape, but it was good enough to take on the road.

Brierton, a full-time professor at the University of the Pacific's Eberhardt School of Business in Stockton, teaches Entertainment Law as an adjunct at McGeorge. Thuesen, a distant relative of the legendary 1920s child star Jackie Coogan, engaged his professor in a discussion of lack of financial protections for child performers. They were off and running.

Coogan was famous for his roles in Charlie Chaplin movies and his legal battles over money with his parents. "The California legislature enacted the Coogan Law to prevent parents from stealing all the money a child performer makes," said Thuesen. "Only three other states - New York, Florida and Missouri - have such laws, and we live in a digital age when Disney's Hannah Montana, Miley Cyrus, is a billion-dollar property."

Brierton and Thuesen are still working on their article, but they have bigger plans than its publication. "There needs to be a federal Uniform Child Performers Protection Act to prevent a parent from unjust enrichment. We hope to play a small role in influencing Congress to take such action."