Entertainment lawyers give any artist or actor the legal help and representation they need. If you’re on track to pursue a career as an entertainment attorney, you’ll have a lot of ground to cover. You might not get to be the next John Branca, but you’ll be the one some musician, film star, or video game designer leans on for their legal counsel. First, however, you’ll need to learn these five things.
1. Contract Law
As an entertainment attorney, a large part of your role will be to manage relationships between your client and anyone who wants to work with them. Your artist or aspiring musician will depend on you to look through any contracts from publishing outlets and studios, as well as from individuals like managers and publicists. Anyone who wants to work with your client has to go through you first, which means you’ll need a sophisticated understanding of contract law and all that it entails.
2. Intellectual Property
One of the most crucial assets an artist has is their creations — the songs, scripts, and performances they choose to put out into the world. Your job, then, is to protect these works of art and ensure that no one can use them without the express permission of your client. You may have to conduct lawsuits against others who would try to pass off your artist’s work as their own. Intellectual property works both ways, of course; you also have to ensure that your client doesn’t infringe on anyone else’s work.
Relationships are everything in the entertainment industry. Even to land your job as an entertainment lawyer, you’ll have to make the right connections and know the right people. Once your job is secure, though, you’ll be responsible to know the right contacts all the more. You’ll have to keep up with who your client’s competition is, and what studios and labels sign which artists. If you need certain deals, contracts, or events to move your artist’s career forward, you’ll only make it happen if you have people on your side.
Legally promoting your client and selling their products can be challenging enough. As your artist rises in popularity, you’ll also have to handle merchandise that furthers their reach. You’ll also deal with any suits regarding illegal merchandising. The intricacies of this undertaking are delicate, which is why you must treat them with care.
5. Estate Planning
The sad truth is that artists, actors, and other celebrities are subject to the pitfalls of life like anyone else. While any person should have wills and plans in place for their eventual death, a public figure’s estate requires more because of all the business aspects of their property. You’ll have to make plans for what merchandise will continue to be sold, who will take over the permissions that once belonged to your client, and how the business will continue to operate once the central figure is gone. Many artists don’t consider these beforehand, which makes it all the more important to prepare.