Becoming a lawyer requires obtaining a bachelor’s degree, passing the LSAT (Law School Admission Test), attending law school, and passing the bar exam before finding employment as a lawyer. There are many subspecialties, such as family law, criminal defense, corporate law, and medical law. However, one of the more exciting subspecialties to break into is entertainment law.
What Is Entertainment Law?
Entertainment law is an area of the legal system aimed at representing and protecting entertainers and entertainment media companies. It addresses creative intellectual property and entertainment industry matters such as contract negotiations, labor laws, non-compete agreements, and FCC (Federal Communications Commission) compliance. The entertainment industry is expansive and contains creatives such as actors, musicians, artists, authors, and the managers and agents who help them along their career paths. However, when contracts need to be negotiated, or disputes arise between studio network executives, a lawyer specializing in entertainment has the knowledge and skills to help all parties reach an agreement.
What Do Entertainment Lawyers Do?
Many entertainment lawyers specialize in specific genres of the industry. Well-known lawyer John Branca specializes in Rock and Roll musical acts and labels, whereas other lawyers may specialize in publishing or live theater arts.
There are three main jobs, among many, that entertainment lawyers find themselves doing throughout their day:
- Protecting Intellectual Property
- Negotiating Contracts and Fees
The lawyers are at the heart of drafting and negotiating contracts between entertainers and the entities that pay them. They also arrange distribution deals and rights. Their job may entail working with the development and production aspects of a project and all talents working on a film, such as writers and directors. Some companies have in-house attorneys, especially if it is a large entertainment company with numerous projects and staff members.
Although most of the time lawyers may find themselves in contract negotiation, occasionally, a situation will turn litigious. They may find themselves in the courtroom to address a case over stolen or plagiarized intellectual property or a breach of contract.
Top Schools for Entertainment Law
John Branca on Being a Music Lawyer from John Branca on Vimeo.
You can find a large concentration of entertainment lawyers in Los Angeles, New York, and Nashville, where entertainment businesses flourish. Some of the best schools devoted to entertainment law are Harvard, UCLA, USC, and UC Berkeley.
Becoming an entertainment lawyer requires a law degree. However, after passing the bar exam, it is essential to gain additional competence in the entertainment business. Besides becoming an associate at an entertainment law firm, other certifications are available that focus on industry-specific topics.
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