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It's a bird, it's a plane—it's a commercial drone litigator

Brendan Schulman ’96 has "a garage full of drones, much to my surprise."

Most of us know them as model airplanes, and Schulman has been flying them for decades. But the remote-controlled flying machines have burst out of the hobbyists' hangar and into commercial use—for aerial video, missing-person searches, even delivering beer to ice-fishers in Minnesota—for which, the federal government says, they require "a certified aircraft, a licensed pilot and operating approval."

That's how Schulman, a lawyer with Kramer Levin Naftalis & Frankel in Manhattan, found himself working for the firm's new Unmanned Aircraft Systems practice group. And now, Businessweek dubs him "America’s best-known commercial drone litigator—a title that means nothing at this moment."

It means nothing because the Federal Aviation Administration essentially banned commercial drones in 2007. But last month, Schulman winged the feds when an administrative law judge ruled that the FAA had no authority to fine his client for using an unmanned aircraft to shoot a promotional video at the University of Virginia. The FAA is appealing the decision to the National Transportation Safety Board.

“The notion that people shouldn’t be able to use these for business purposes isn’t in the law anywhere,” Schulman tells Forbes.

And he's already training the next generation. Tweeting a photo of "my toddler, w/a drone," he writes: "I make no apologies. We need to teach kids technology."


The Yale Alumni Magazine is published by Yale Alumni Publications Inc., an alumni-based nonprofit that is not run by Yale University. Its content does not necessarily reflect the views of the university administration.

Filed under Brendan Schulman, drones
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