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What Do Entertainment Lawyers Do

What do entertainment lawyers do

If you’re an aspiring lawyer, you can choose from a wide variety of specialties. You can be an entertainment lawyer who provides legal advice and protection for entertainment professionals. In this article, we’ll talk about entertainment lawyers and their duties. We’ll also walk you through the steps of becoming one. Read on! 

What is an Entertainment Lawyer profession?

An entertainment lawyer represents the interests of companies, creatives, and other entities in the entertainment industry. 

Regardless of where they are — the UK, the US, Canada, or elsewhere — entertainment lawyers advise individuals and entities on legal matters relating to the facets of the entertainment field and media law, such as: 

  • Broadcasting: public service and commercial broadcasting 
  • Publishing: books: newspapers, and print magazines 
  • Music: working with musicians, producers, and managers 
  • Film & Television
  • Digital Media: includes social media and gaming 
  • Advertising and marketing 
  • Theater: includes working across opera, ballet, dance and circus, with producers, owners, nonprofits, venues, drama schools, agents, and creative talents. 

Entertainment lawyers may have expertise in specific fields depending on the part of the industry they work in. They may focus on areas like: 

Overall, entertainment lawyers are mainly used to support huge entities such as management companies, production firms, agencies, and studios. 

In the US, entertainment lawyers play a huge part in bellwether cases — such as those of Johnny Depp and Amber Heard’s cases against each other and that of actress Scarlett Johannson’s 2021 dispute with Disney. Media outlet Variety predicts entertainment lawyers will guide Hollywood into the future

What Does an Entertainment Lawyer Do on a daily basis?

An entertainment lawyer’s work is expansive. Their most common duties include but are not limited to: 

Negotiating Contracts 

An entertainment lawyer helps individuals and companies secure contracts that protect their interests. The lawyer brokers the terms of a project with other parties involved, such as agents, studios, and production companies. In a word, the lawyer ensures the artists and companies get fair compensation for their contributions. 

Safeguarding IP 

IP will always be a big business in the entertainment world. Whether it’s a screenwriter’s script or an artist’s original song, entertainment lawyers are responsible for protecting the property from those who want to use it without authorization. Entertainment lawyers also handle issues that arise from copyright or trademark infringements. 

Advising Individuals and Entities 

Entertainment lawyers are helpful resources for when an individual or company needs to deal with matters outside of their expertise. They can answer questions regarding payrolls, contractor agreements, child labor laws, and other similar subjects. 

Connecting Clients 

Entertainment lawyers help clients connect with other people in the industry, such as managers, producers, and accountants. In this industry, connection is everything; it’s not what you know but who you know. 

How to Become an Entertainment Lawyer

To be an entertainment lawyer, take the following steps: 

  1. Earn a Bachelor’s Degree

Law schools don’t require certain majors, but it’s wise to study a field where you can develop helpful skills, such as writing, communication, and negotiation. Consider the following: 

  • Business 
  • Economics 
  • English 
  • History 
  • Political Science
  • Psychology
  • Sociology 

You may try studying entertainment subjects, such as music and theater, to give you an edge and insight into the entertainment industry. 

  1. Pass the LSAT

After earning a degree, you must go to a law school, and the first step to doing that is taking the Law School Admission Test (LSAT). You can select LSAT testing dates based on your region in the US and Canada

In the UK, two locations offer LSAT: 

  • The University of London (administers the test in June) 
  • Ironmongers’ Hall (administers in September/October, December, and February) 

The LSAT is also offered in: 

  • The Caribbean 
  • Middle East 
  • Europe
  • Africa 
  • Asia 
  • Australia 
  • New Zealand
  • Mexico 

Prepare for the test several months in advance. You can take a prep course, try practice tests, or join study groups.

  1. Apply for a Law School 

After passing the LSATs, start applying for law school programs. Target programs in your desired field; attending a school with your desired specialty can help you propel your career. These programs are often in large cities, and while doing your studies, you can apply for an internship program with a local entertainment law office. 

You can also start gathering documents like the following: 

  • Proof of LSAT score
  • Letters of Recommendation 
  • Personal statement 
  • Undergraduate transcripts 
  1. Earn a Law Degree 

The common degree that entertainment lawyers have is the Juris Doctor (JD) degree, which often takes three years to complete. However, many schools now offer part-time programs, which take about four years to complete. 

During the first year, students often study general law concepts. They then focus on specialized topics during the second and third years. These topics include: 

  • Copyright law 
  • IP law 
  • Negotiations 
  • Income taxes
  • First amendment practices 

You can also choose electives related to the entertainment field that you want. Some programs offer courses in film and music laws. 

  1. Get a Certification Program 

Some law schools offer an entertainment law certificate, which can help you advance your career down the road. You can complete this certification while earning your law degree. You’ll study law concepts related to the entertainment field, such as contract law and labor laws. 

  1. Pass the Bar Exam 

After earning a law degree, you must take and pass the bar exam. States and countries can have varying guidelines for this exam, but it’s often a two-day test where you must pass the bar in the state or province in which you want to practice.

When taking the bar exam, consider where you want to practice. If you want to practice in California, for instance, you must take the California bar exam. If you want to work in the music industry, check out locations with lots of music studios or vendors.

  1. Gain Professional Experience 

After passing the bar, you can start practicing law. Many entertainment lawyers start by being legal associates. You may start this by exploring both entertainment companies and law firms. You can also target huge companies that hire in-house entertainment lawyers that they use to draft contracts and for consultations.

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