Entertainment Lawyer. The world of entertainment has always struck us with amazement, intrigue, and glamour. But behind every successful production and artist are legal intricacies and commercial negotiations that ensure fair deals and safeguard creative rights.

Entertainment Lawyer
Entertainment Lawyer

An entertainment lawyer is a specialized professional whose expertise in the legal sphere is pivotal in navigating the ever-evolving landscape of media and entertainment.

Entertainment Lawyer

Some entertainment lawyers represent individuals, such as actors or musicians, while others work to protect the trademark rights of major production companies from infringement on characters, plot lines, and brand names. Entertainment lawyers are additionally found in the political arena of the entertainment industry, working to represent bodies of workers such as actors, directors, or writers by working for the unions affiliated with such groups.

Regardless of the specific role an entertainment lawyer plays in the field, they will have many of the same duties and responsibilities shared by other types of attorneys.

Responsibilities of an Entertainment Lawyer

Entertainment law isn’t considered a separate legal discipline. Instead, it is a merger of traditional legal disciplines like contract law, intellectual property law, and business law. If you choose to become an entertainment lawyer, you may have several responsibilities, as follows:

  • Negotiating

When it comes to securing a contract that protects your interests, an entertainment lawyer is essential. Instead of advocating for yourself, they can broker the terms of a project with others involved, such as an agent, production company, or studio, and make sure that you get fair compensation for your contributions.

  • Advising

An entertainment lawyer can be a great general resource when a client must deal with a professional matter outside their area of expertise. For instance, they can provide answers about entertainment payroll, in particular, contractor versus employee distinctions and child labor laws. They can also advise on union, guild, and other association matters.

  • Connecting Clients

As the adage goes, it’s not what you know but who you know. In this regard, an entertainment lawyer can be useful for making introductions for their clients to others in the industry, like managers, agents, and accountants.

  • Protecting IP

Intellectual property, or IP, is big business. From a screenwriter’s spec script to a musician’s original song, anything created within this industry necessitates protection from those who may want to use it, option it, license it, or infringe upon it with unauthorized use. An entertainment lawyer can see to it that a client’s intellectual property is handled properly and protected if copyright or trademark issues arise.

  • Drafting Contracts

The drafting of varied contracts and agreements is the primary role of an entertainment lawyer. The different kinds of contracts include production contracts, director agreements, satellite agreements, artist/actor agreements, etc. The role also includes being knowledgeable about the law and ensuring that the terms contained within each contract are appropriate and align with their client’s best interests.

In addition, an entertainment lawyer helps their clients understand the terms and conditions with which they are contractually bound to comply.

  • Provide Representation

An entertainment lawyer can represent their client and handle all communications procedures on their behalf. If a client has any legal matter or lawsuit filed against them, an entertainment lawyer can negotiate on their behalf to secure an out-of-court settlement or vigorously represent their clients in court before the judge.

How To Become an Entertainment Lawyer

Becoming an entertainment lawyer requires several key steps to gain expertise in the legal aspects of the entertainment industry. Here’s what it takes to join this dynamic field:

  • Earn A Bachelor’s Degree

The first step to becoming an entertainment lawyer is earning a bachelor’s degree. Law schools don’t require a certain major, but aspiring lawyers may choose to study a field where they can develop helpful legal skills, such as communication, negotiation, and writing. Some aspiring entertainment lawyers choose to study an entertainment subject, such as music or theatre. This can give them industry knowledge and insight into the entertainment field.

  • Pass The Law School Admission test.

After graduating with a bachelor’s degree, aspiring entertainment lawyers can apply to law schools. To apply for law programs, students must first take the LSAT. This test includes five multiple-choice sections covering areas such as reading comprehension, analytical thinking, argument skills, and critical thinking. After the multiple-choice sections, there is a written portion.

  • Apply For Law School and Earn a Law degree.

Next, you must attend law school to pursue a Juris Doctor (JD) degree. To enter law school, you’ll need to pass the Law School Admission Test (LSAT). During your time in law school, focus on courses in contracts, intellectual property law, and entertainment law. Becoming familiar with these subjects will help you develop a strong understanding of the unique issues that arise within the entertainment industry.

  • Pass The Bar examination.

After graduating from the law program, aspiring lawyers must take and pass the bar exam. States can set guidelines for this exam, but typically it involves a two-day test. Lawyers must pass the bar exam in the state they want to practice in. For example, if you want to practice law in California, you must pass the California bar.

  • Gain Experience

Once you have obtained your license, it’s essential to gain experience in entertainment law. Start by working for an entertainment law firm, an in-house legal department, or as a legal consultant for clients in the industry. This hands-on experience will help you develop crucial skills in contract negotiation, copyright protection, and other entertainment-specific legal matters.

  • Continuing Education

Entertainment law is an ever-evolving field. Stay informed about new developments and regulatory changes by participating in continuing education programs and workshops specifically tailored to entertainment law.

Areas Entertainment Lawyers Handle the Entertainment Industries

Here are some of the areas lawyers may handle for each industry:

  • Films

As we all know, making films is such a colossal task to handle. Similar to that, an even more gigantic task is that of the varied legal contracts and agreements that need to be entered into while making a film.

Some of the major contracts are contracts with stars and other talent, labor negotiations with various union crews and employees, co-production agreements, financial backing agreements, rental production liability issues, merchandising and product placement, distribution agreements, and copyright and trademark issues.

  • Publishing

Production contracts, author agreements, advertising and marketing agreements, and copyright and trademark issues. Broadly speaking, the work done by an entertainment lawyer can be split into two major categories. Lawyers divide the practice of entertainment into two basic categories: Transaction-based and litigation-based.

Transaction-based focuses on drafting and negotiating entertainment contracts, while litigation-based means resolving disputes by filing a lawsuit or through mediation or arbitration.

More specifically, an entertainment lawyer can target any or several of many practice areas, like intellectual property, corporate law, labor law, arbitration and alternative dispute resolution, litigation, property, real estate, criminal law, international law, matrimonial law, taxation, and immigration.

  • Music

Entertainment lawyers in the music industry mainly handle contracts with record labels, artists, managers, agents, music licensing, copyright issues, and royalty agreements.

  • Theatre

Just like the films, there are contracts in theatre such as contracts with talent and crew, product liability issues, ticket sale agreements, rental and co-production agreements, copyright and trademark issues, and producer agreements.

  • Digital

Due to the advent of OTT platforms, the role of an entertainment lawyer has evolved over the years. They now also handle documentation relating to OTT platforms, assignment agreements, copyright issues related thereto, and licensing agreements.

What To Ask a Prospective Entertainment Lawyer

. Who have you worked with in the past?

. Do you have connections to other professionals (agents, managers, etc.) who could also help your career?

. What is their retainer fee? What is their billing structure?

. Do they have expertise in your specific area of need? (An entertainment attorney who is great with contract negotiations won’t be as helpful if you have immediate litigation needs—for instance, a copyright infringement case.)

How Do You Find a Good Entertainment Lawyer?

if you work in the entertainment industry, odds are you already know someone who has an entertainment lawyer. That’s why finding an entertainment lawyer usually begins with word-of-mouth referrals.

But referrals are just a starting point. Given that the entertainment lawyer you need may not line up with the reasons why a friend hired theirs, you should also consider an entertainment lawyer:

. Area of expertise

. Professional background and/or experience.

. Costs and how they are determined

. Formal client references.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here