DocProject: Legal Services for Independent Filmmakers

About the Intiative

The DocProject is a new program of the Media Freedom and Information Access Clinic at Yale Law School. Under the guidance of experienced media lawyers, Yale law students provide filmmakers with pro bono legal research and advice from the earliest stages of their projects through rough-cuts. The project’s mission is twofold: to assist documentary filmmakers who would not otherwise have access to legal resources, and to train the next generation of media lawyers.

DocProject lawyers and law students work with independent filmmakers from different backgrounds and with varying degrees of experience in developing strategies to reduce potential liability from newsgathering activities – including source protection, trespass, intrusion and other privacy concerns. The Clinic also assists in advancing filmmakers’ efforts to obtain access, in addition to advising on libel, privacy, intellectual property and other content concerns. Yet the Clinic does not, however, advise on the corporate or business side concerning the creation and distribution of the documentary.

The DocProject was launched in 2018 to address an unmet need. While society today increasingly obtains its news and information through visual images, video journalism, and independent filmmakers, these journalists have limited access to legal assistance. In its launch, the DocProject worked closely with Doc Society, Inc. to identify candidates for the project, in order to see if providing legal services in this manner was a viable model. It has proven to be highly successful, and we are hoping to sustain and expand the project.

To learn more about our work, or to request legal assistance, please email the DocProject co-director, Jennifer Borg, at