Entertainment Lawyers Explained:
Entertainment law is a term that refers to an agglomeration of traditional categories of law, which focus on providing legal aid and services to the entertainment industry. The core principles of entertainment law intersect with the more conventional field of intellectual property law; however, the practice of entertainment law typically involves cases that question tort law, labor law, immigration, securities law, security interest, agency, intellectual property, defamation, right of privacy, product placement, criminal law, tax law, international law, advertising, insurance law and contract law.
In addition to the above fields, entertainment law will cover areas of law that involve all media types, including TV, film, publishing, music, internet, new media and advertising.
Because the field is somewhat broad, there are different types of entertainment lawyers; the professional field is highly specialized to cater to an individual’s specific needs. Entertainment lawyers may specialize in one or more of the aforementioned specialties for one or more of the various media fields. Due to this specificity, you as a client must first identify what area of law you need assistance with. After you have acknowledged the specific legal question, you can seek effective aid by hiring a coordinating entertainment lawyer specialist.
Types of Entertainment Lawyers:
In a broad sense, there are two types of entertainment lawyers: litigation entertainment lawyers and transactional entertainment lawyers. A litigation entertainment lawyer will specialize in offensive and defensive legal actions that involve other parties. For example, a litigation entertainment lawyer will respond to a lawsuit filed by another person, issue preliminary demands, or commence in a legal action if you believe someone is violating your contractual or legal rights.
A transactional entertainment lawyer will specialize in the facilitation of business deals, negotiate tactics, implement business strategies and preside over other contractual matters aligned with the client’s business.
An individual entertainment lawyer will tend to focus on one aspect of entertainment law; however, entertainment law firms will employ a diversified practice that can tackle any legal matter associated with the field. That being said, larger entertainment law firms will tend to charge higher fees and have less individual interaction to their clients. In contrast, a boutique entertainment law firm will focus more acutely on one aspect of entertainment law, charge lower fees, but have less access to resources and knowledge.
What Exactly does an Entertainment Lawyer do?
Although the position sounds thrilling and prestigious, an entertainment lawyer is a demanding career that requires a firm understanding of contract law, litigation, intellectual property and labor law, as well as an extensive knowledge of the entertainment industry.
Entertainment lawyers provide legal assistance aid to artists (musicians, actors, authors etc.), employees, companies and individuals who are involved with the entertainment industry (film, television, music, radio, publishing, theater and multimedia entertainment).
Because the field is so broad, an entertainment lawyer can aid anyone aligned with the entertainment industry in a variety of ways. For instance, an entertainment lawyer can help an actor negotiate a contract with a studio department, file a suit over a bootlegged or pirated film, ensure that a stuntman has suitable medical coverage, assist a recording artist with real estate or financial decisions, or protect a star from illegal use of copyrighted materials.
To be more specific, an entertainment lawyer will assist his or her clients with the following matters:
• An entertainment lawyer may draft contracts for their clients and review contracts for publicists, record labels, film studios, managers and other entertainment professionals to ensure that the documents are legal and fair to the client.
• Entertainment lawyers may act as general counsel for established entertainment professionals and help these individuals with marketing and merchandise deals, as well as financial, real estate or tax decisions
• An entertainment lawyer will help an artist secure the rights to music that other individuals have written or produced. The entertainment lawyer will ensure that the artist has abided by copyright laws.
• Entertainment lawyers help clients understand how the entertainment business works, including which types of contracts are desirable, what performing rights they are entitled to, how to identify shortcomings or pitfalls within the industry, and how to go about choosing representation, including management, agents, accountants etc.
• An entertainment lawyer will maintain relationships with record labels and studios; these contacts enable an entertainment lawyer to meet their client’s needs in an efficient manner.
Choosing the Right Entertainment Lawyer:
If you are in the entertainment business and have signed a contract, you are responsible for fulfilling the obligations latent in the legal document. When you go over these terms you may be bombarded with an assortment of legal jargon that is ambiguous and complicated. Although your agent may elucidate on such material, an entertainment lawyer will invariably have more expertise regarding the situation.
To find an entertainment lawyer you must use the following resources:
• Review ads in industry publications
• Contact the American Bar Association’s Forum on the Entertainment and Sports Industries
• Use industry databases
• Since the entertainment industry runs on contacts, you must network—ask colleagues or those on your team for information regarding effective legal representation.
When looking for the right entertainment lawyer, you must consider the following variables:
• Look for an entertainment lawyer who is an expert with the specific field you work in or need. If you are a budding music star, you must hire an entertainment lawyer who is experienced with recording contracts and has relationships with record labels.
• You must focus on finding an entertainment lawyer that has years of experience in the particular area you need.
• Entertainment lawyers are costly; when evaluating these legal professionals, you must decide on the level and form of billing that best fits your situation. An entertainment lawyer may charge on an hourly basis, as a percentage of income derived from a contract, as a flat rate per contract, or as a retainer (set fees per month). When deciding which entertainment lawyer is best for you, make sure you know about the hidden costs beyond their payment schedule.
• Make sure that your prospective entertainment lawyer does not represent anyone who you have a close relationship with or who is on the opposing side of the contract.
Entertainment Lawyer Salary:
An entertainment lawyer salary will fluctuate based on a number of factors. For starters, the entertainment lawyer’s track record, reputation and experience will alter the individual’s pay schedule—the more experienced and reputable a counsel is, the higher the entertainment lawyer salary will be. That being said, an entertainment lawyer salary is also dependent on the individual’s payment preference and his or her firm.
Entertainment lawyer salary will fluctuate based on the schedule employed. Some entertainment lawyers will charge hourly rates, contingency fees (a portion of the contract or settlement goes to the legal representative) or through a retainer schedule. Additionally, the entertainment lawyers salary may also be dependent on the monetary value of the underlying contract or salary—the larger the contract, the higher the fee. In general, because of the affluence of their clients, an entertainment lawyer salary will be exponentially higher when compared to other legal professionals.