Intellectual property lawyer Moorisha Bey-Taylor ’08 protects artists’ creative work.
When I was 17, my parents and I drove together from our small town of Colton, in San Bernardino County, to attend UC San Diego’s Admit Day.
My parents were divorced but came together so that we could come to campus as a family. As we browsed the student organizations lined up along Library Walk, they spotted one that caught their attention: the Black Student Union, or BSU. For them to have a moment of mutual agreement, I realized it must be important.
Shereena Turner ’05, the BSU president at the time, greeted us and said she was proud of me for being admitted to UCSD, adding, “We’re just one percent on this campus, and if you come here, we hope you join us.”
That moment, so warm and welcoming, was a big part of my decision to attend UCSD. At that time, there were only 189 Black students among a campus population of over 20,000. My lifelong career in activism began that day when I chose to attend UC San Diego. I wanted to make a meaningful contribution to the Black community. The BSU became an essential part of my college experience, and it was there that I found community. We were a support group, a social group, an activist group; we looked out for each other. Since then, I’ve carried a desire to align my professional work with my community.
After UC San Diego, I attended the University of Oregon School of Law, graduating in 2011. I worked at a number of law firms, including one where I analyzed the intellectual property docket for Los Angeles each morning. A lot of these cases included copyright and trademark infringement. I began to notice a pattern: Many Black creators didn’t have any intellectual property protections. I had spent a lot of time in creative spaces in my life, having a brother who is a 3D character artist and a dad who was in the arts for over 40 years. In 2019, I started my own law firm, utilizing my legal background in service of Black creatives.
I’ve since worked with photographers, visual artists, musicians, even Tarot card designers, helping them to implement intellectual property protections. This work takes quite a bit of foresight: An up-and-coming musician today could be the next Bob Marley or Diana Ross, with catalogs of creative work they need to protect. You never know what will happen in the future, but with the right protections, that work’s value will stay with its creator.
My work is rooted in activism, and it all began that day at UC San Diego. My dad passed away in 2017, and I now realize what that moment meant to me and my family. He and my mother knew the importance of the campus BSU and the value of finding a community, one that I could be a part of and give back to as well. That was the start of everything for me. My work aligns with my community, and it’s incredibly fulfilling to do good and preserve legacies now and into the future.
Moorisha Bey-Taylor ’08 is founding partner of the Law Office of Moorisha Bey-Taylor. She was named to the list of “Top Lawyers Under 40–Nation’s Best Advocates 2021” by the National Bar Association and is on the Board of Black Women Lawyers in Los Angeles.