Professor of Law
Director, Media Center
Michael Botein remembers when, as a law student, he discovered media law. Up to that point, he had known about the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) only through his ham radio activities.
It was the late 1960s, and media law was not taught in the United States. In fact, Professor Botein developed one of the first such courses when he was teaching at Georgetown University Law Center in the early 1970s. By then, he was a senior attorney-advisor in the FCC's Cable Television Bureau, where he drafted and enforced the inaugural cable television regulations.
Professor Botein, who was born and raised in Manhattan and received his B.A. from Wesleyan University in 1966, initially had wanted to do civil rights litigation in Washington, DC and then go into teaching. Feeling that the Nixon Justice Department would not be the most hospitable place for a liberal young lawyer, however, he decided to try for a teaching position when he graduated from Cornell Law School in 1969. At 24, he became an instructor at Brooklyn Law School, beginning a lifetime career in law teaching that has included appointments at Columbia, George Washington University, Georgetown, and Rutgers. He has also taught overseas at the University of Poitiers in France, the University of Melbourne and Monash University in Australia, and Hebrew University as well as Haita University in Israel.
In 1977, Professor Botein was approached by New York Law School about joining the faculty. The death of his father in 1974 had brought Professor Botein and his family back to the New York area and he was intrigued by the offer, but only if he could start a media law center.
"I've never looked back," he says. Of the field, he adds "You have to be responsive to change. You can't forecast a damn thing."
Professor Botein has become a well-respected expert in communications law, and a scholarly witness to the unprecedented growth of the cable industry and the Internet, the advent of direct broadcast satellites, and the break-up of AT&T. He has written more than 70 articles and books, of which 90 percent deal with some aspect of media law, among them Regulation of the Electronic Mass Media Law and Policy for Radio, Television, Cable and the New Technologies (3d ed. West Group, 1999), and Regulacion de los Medios Masives de Communicacion (Universidad Sergio Arboleda, 2003).
Since his college years, when he spent a semester studying in Germany and a summers working at Radio Free Europe, Professor Botein has maintained close ties to Europe. The Media Center is the only U.S. member of the Council of Europe's Audiovisual Observatory.
Through his efforts, the Media Center has been actively training its graduates to play a part in the "globalization of media" including opportunities to spend a semester abroad at a European university. Professor Botein is himself regularly invited to speak at law schools around the world, recently consulting with the University of Bogota, Colombia on establishing a media law program there.
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Assistant: Silvy Singh
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Wesleyan, B.A. 1966
Cornell, J.D. 1969, Order of the Coif (Law Review)
Columbia, LL.M. 1972, J.S.D. 1979.
Fulbright Fellowship, 1991.
Mass media expert, lecturing frequently overseas. Served as Federal Communications Commission consultant and as leader in communications for a variety of private institutions, both corporate and nonprofit.