From contract drafts to court cases, Entertainment Attorneys advise and represent their clients regarding all legal matters.
When the word ‘lawyer’ comes to mind, most people think of the person that represents a client on trial. Some Entertainment Attorneys do spend their time in court representing clients regarding music-related cases; however, others focus on providing legal advice outside of the court environment.
Entertainment Lawyers work closely with musicians to ensure that they are being treated fairly from a legal perspective. When an artist is preparing to sign a contract, whether that be related to recording, touring, merchandising, or something else, it is in their best interest to hire an attorney. The lawyer will review the contract with the client to ensure they understand what it entails and highlight any concerns if necessary. Contractual negotiations are one of the most important areas of entertainment law, yet also one of the most confusing. Artists (or their manager) should contact a lawyer whenever they feel their rights may be in danger, especially when dealing with long-term contracts that involve multi-year or multi-album deals.
While Entertainment Attorneys commonly work with an artist and their team, they may also be employed to represent a label. In this case, they may be responsible for drafting contracts and providing any legal advice to the label as necessary. Whether working on part of the artist or the label though, Entertainment Attorneys are ultimately responsible for translating the law and ensuring that each party follows through with their end of the agreement.
You really have to have a basic understanding of a lot of different areas of law. That’s one of the main things, understanding how much there is to understand. The music business also has a lot of peculiar business and legal arrangements, so it’s helpful to understand why they’re peculiar but also appreciate that there are sometimes opportunities to do things differently.
Daniel Schacht, Head of the Music and Entertainment Practice at Donahue Fitzgerald, LLP
Entertainment Lawyers possess a large skill set and are approached by clients who may require various services, some of which may include (but are not limited to) negotiations, legal planning, asset protection, and contract reviewing or drafting. Because of this, no day as an Entertainment Attorney is ever the same!
Entertainment Attorneys work closely with the artist to ensure that all of their legal matters are properly taken care of. Therefore, lawyers are crucial members of the artist’s team which makes selecting the proper legal representation extremely important. Whether an artist is independent or signed to a label, they can select their own lawyer and have the power to switch attorneys at any time.
- creative vision
- project management
- design software
- quick thinking
Entertainment lawyers work with numerous clients, each of which have different needs, so the amount of time spent with each client varies. Some clients may only require a lawyer’s services once or twice a year, whereas others may be in contact with a lawyer far more often. This is especially true for artists depending on where they lie in their careers, whether they are on the verge of a new album release, are taking a break to recharge after touring, or anything in between.
Although Entertainment Attorneys are always working on a variety of tasks, the bulk of their time is spent completing these tasks and working directly with their clients or their clients’ managers.
Is a degree required?
Aspiring Entertainment Attorneys must first obtain an undergraduate degree. One of the most popular majors is Legal Studies, though majors unrelated to the law (such as Music Industry Studies or Business) are sometimes also acceptable. After graduating from college, aspiring Entertainment Lawyers must pass the LSAT in order to be admitted to Law School where they will ultimately go on to earn a graduate degree. Finally, they must pass the bar prior to beginning a career in law. Although this is a common path for aspiring Entertainment Lawyers to take, each state and country may have specific requirements that Attorneys must meet in order to practice law.
In comparison to other careers in the music industry, the Entertainment Lawyer profession is more difficult to break into. Whereas most areas of the music industry recommend a college degree, Entertainment Lawyers must obtain an undergraduate degree, attend law school, and pass the Bar Exam in order to begin their practice. While enrolled in law school, some aspiring Entertainment Attorneys may pursue an internship at a law firm; however, others may receive an assistant position at an agency and will ultimately become an attorney after gaining sufficient knowledge and experience.
The acronym for the Law School Admission Test. All aspiring attorneys must pass this exam upon graduation from college in order to be admitted to law school.
The exam that aspiring attorneys must pass after completing law school in order to begin their career as a lawyer.
Abbreviation for Master of Laws. This degree can be pursued by someone who has already obtained a JD and passed the bar examination but wishes to further their education in a specific area of law.
Written by Julia
Created by Stef, Jordan and Fran
Published October 25th 2021
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