Obtaining a Career as an Entertainment Lawyer

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The aim of the career seeker in the entertainment industry usually is to get opportunity in the career of singing, dancing, or acting. But there are many opportunities in showbiz besides the jobs in front of the camera. A person can choose to become a costume designer, media buyer, film editor, mixer/recording engineer, makeup artist, choreographer, or lighting designer. Producer and entertainment lawyers are also career avenues in the entertainment industry. We will elaborate on the career of an entertainment lawyer here.

Academic requirements for the career of a lawyer include a four year college degree, three years of law school, and passing a written bar examination. During school, a student specializes in entertainment law with further specialization in sub-fields of entertainment like music. Some of these requirements may vary by State. Certain own qualifications have been set by Federal Courts and Agencies for practicing before or in them.

For a successful career as an entertainment lawyer one has to have specialization in various fields of the entertainment industry. You have to have specialization in legal aspects associated with music, copyright/intellectual property, and other fields of the entertainment industry, etc.



The skills required for a successful career as a lawyer are proficiency in writing, speaking and reading, researching, analyzing, and thinking in a logical manner. Knowledge of various subjects, English, and foreign languages are very useful for a successful career in the law profession.

A career as an entertainment lawyer involves matters related to intellectual property that encompass trademarks and copyrights, litigation, immigration, securities, agencies, and contracts. A client is represented by an entertainment lawyer in film, literature, television, music, and even software and videogames. A great deal of his time is consumed in drafting and negotiating the terms and conditions of contracts and agreements. Due to this reason, many times an entertainment lawyer is quite frequently termed as a transactional lawyer.

An entertainment lawyer having specialization is required to handle a wide range of legal issues for his client. His nature of responsibilities includes negotiations and preparation of terms and conditions of a contract on behalf of his client on matters concerning live performances, distribution rights, publishing rights, and music placements. He also negotiates and prepares contracts for promoters, agents, session musicians, and managers for his clients. He also protects copyright/intellectual property rights, and if required, files lawsuits on his client's behalf. There are various other issues that crop up from time to time, and the job requirements of an entertainment lawyer are basically led by the client's needs.

Entertainment Lawyers help manage their clients in managing various issues from a legal point of view that may arise during the course of their career. During the course of their career, sometimes musicians face criminal legal problems. If the legal matter is of a simple nature, the entertainment lawyer may be able to provide assistance himself. But a mostly criminal attorney is recommended by the entertainment lawyers to its clients for dealing with criminal legal matters while keeping themselves clear of the case.

In the career of an entertainment lawyer, the earnings depend on the experience. The fact whether he is self-employed or works for a firm also determines the rates of payment to an entertainment lawyer. Generally these lawyers are paid by the hour which may be a few hundred dollars per hour. There are some attorneys that take a percentage of any deal they negotiate or the settlements they win on behalf of their clients. Median annual earnings of lawyers in May 2006 were $102,470 as per the Bureau of Labor Statistics, of which the middle half earned between $69,910 & $45,600.

There are abundant growth opportunities in all spheres of employment in the entertainment industry. There was an estimated growth rate of 32.7% in the motion picture, music, and theater industry during 2006 with the addition of thousands of jobs in this sector. There are about 812,500 salaried employees in the entertainment industry and about 250,000 people work in the motion picture industry. This high growth naturally will give rise to more complications enhancing the opportunities for a career as an entertainment lawyer in music and other specializations.

There are companies like record labels, publishing companies, and agencies where one can seek a career as an entertainment lawyer in the music industry. There are entertainment lawyers who also work for individual musicians and managers as well. There are a few such lawyers who exclusively seek out their career as entertainment lawyers with a particular major label, but a client list of most of the lawyers includes individuals to the businesses related to music. The areas of the forum of work formed by the American Bar Association for entertainment lawyers include motion pictures, music and personal appearance, theater and performing arts, television, literary publishing, cable & radio, litigation, visual arts, etc. where one can seek a career as entertainment lawyer.
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