Music and arts lawyers provide legal representation and guidance to individuals and corporations in the entertainment industry.
It may surprise you to learn that music, art, and entertainment as a whole is peppered with contracts. Artists aren't always prepared to navigate the labyrinth of rules and regulations that come with a place in the industry; failing to read the fine print on life changing record deals or controlling managerial agreements. An entertainment lawyer who specializes in the legal aspects of a musician or artist's professional discipline can be a valuable ally, helping to translate dense legal jargon and negotiate better deals for their clients.
Music attorneys may be called upon to resolve issues related to contract violation, copyright infringement, licensing issues, business establishment, tax law, and more. It pays to be knowledgeable about a wide array of legal concerns, especially since client's careers can depend on making the right move. There's another side to entertainment law, though; music, arts, and media are all about who you know, and the most successful entertainment lawyers focus on being personable and well-known. Having a wide network is a big advantage in this field, and having a good reputation can help a lawyer build a great client base.
Work in music or arts law may include...
- Drafting contracts for clients and businesses
- Networking with industry professionals
- Finding creative ways to resolve issues
- Researching cases to form arguments
- Preparing legal documents for review
Music publishing companies, record labels, agencies, studios, and venues employ legions of music lawyers who work to protect their assets and corporate interests. Musicians at a certain professional level often hire their own attorneys to handle legal concerns and prevent anyone from taking advantage of their creative work. Lawyers may work at entertainment centered law firms and work on a consulting basis with a number of clients, or they might have their own practice and work closely with a few clients. Some entertainment lawyers rarely see the inside of a courtroom, focusing their work primarily on contract creation and follow-through. Others are industry litigators who argue cases frequently, designing terms and settlements to get their clients the best possible outcome. Like most lawyers, music and art attorneys should be prepared to work long hours as needed, which can be grueling when it comes to paperwork; however, work can also consist of social gatherings and one on one outings with industry peers, which can help to balance a lawyer's lifestyle and relieve some professional pressure.
Becoming a lawyer of any kind is a fairly straightforward process, though some people come to it by different paths. The first step is a solid undergraduate education. Many students enroll in Bachelor's degree programs that give them some context for future endeavors. Graduates who hold a Bachelor's degree are eligible to take an intensive exam called the LSAT, which consists of multiple choice and essay questions that test a person's capacity for complex logic and analytical thinking. A prospective law student's LSAT score determines the schools that will accept them, and can have a long-term effect on an attorney's career. Law school is usually a three year program, where the first year consists of a standard array of introductory courses and the second and third years make room for specialization, legal clinic experience, and advanced study. Many law students complete internships over the course of their studies, and finding an internship with a firm that specializes in entertainment or music law can be a great way to kickstart a career. After passing the last set of final exams, a law student will graduate. However, there is one more crucial step a new graduate must take before launching a legal career; an exam called the Bar, administered by the American Bar Association, which licenses those who pass to practice law in their state of residence.
If you're interested in a career in law but want to do business amidst a colorful network of creatives, working as an entertainment lawyer might be a rewarding path.
The International Association of Entertainment Lawyers provides a specialist, international forum for the sharing of knowledge and experience between lawyers whose areas of expertise cover nearly every aspect of entertainment law.
The American Bar Association Forum on the Entertainment & Sports Industries is a community group for lawyers that provides the opportunity to participate in ongoing dialogue with the leading attorneys and professionals in the entertainment and sports industries.
Volunteer Lawyers for the Arts is a leading legal aid and education organization providing legal services to New York's arts community.
The Black Entertainment and Sports Lawyers Association facilitates professional advancement, providing opportunities for networking and strategic alliances to Black professionals in entertainment and sports law.