How Do I Become an Entertainment Lawyer?
Research what it takes to become an entertainment lawyer. Learn about education and licensure requirements, average salary and job outlook to find out if this is the career for you.
What Is An Entertainment Lawyer?
Lawyers require extensive legal knowledge. They must have a Juris Doctor degree, and must also pass the bar exam before they can practice law. They often specialize in a specific field of law, such as criminal law, business law or immigration law. Entertainment lawyers focus on the entertainment industry. They work with contracts in the music, television, film and publishing industries. They advise clients on the terms of the contract, alert them to any concerns with the contract, and may also draft contracts for companies or individuals. In the event of a dispute over a contract involving their client they may represent them in court.
|Degree Requirements||Bachelor's degree, Juris Doctorate degree|
|Education Field of Study||Entertainment law, copyright law, contracts, intellectual property, taxation|
|Job Responsibilities||Provide legal counsel to businesses and individuals in the entertainment industry; negotiate contracts and handle issues related to defamation, copyright, and intellectual property; argue in court when necessary|
|Licensure||Pass the bar examination in the state where you will practice|
|Job Outlook (2018-2028)||6% for all lawyers**|
|Median Salary (2018)||$120,910*|
Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, **O*Net
What Education Do I Need to Be an?
Your career as an entertainment lawyer will start the same way as the career of any lawyer - with a law degree. You can begin this process by enrolling in a bachelor's degree program. Law schools don't require you to major in a specific subject, but you may choose to enter a pre-law program, which incorporates specific courses designed to prepare you for law school.
You must earn high grades as an undergrad because grade point average is a determining factor in admission. Prior to applying to law schools, you'll take the Law School Admission Test (LSAT), a standardization test required by most law schools. Once accepted to a law school accredited by the American Bar Association (ABA), you'll work toward earning your Juris Doctor (J.D.) degree.
Take Courses in Entertainment Law
Some J.D. programs offer upper-level law students to take specialty courses in entertainment law, which focus on specific areas of the legal process that are particularly applicable in the entertainment industry. In addition to taking traditional law classes, such as constitutional law, legal writing and civil procedure, you can take courses like music industry law, arts law, taxation and intellectual property law. You can finish law school in three years.
Become State Licensed
In order to practice law in the state where you reside, you'll need to pass your state's bar exam. The exact process varies by state but all of them administer a written examination, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). The BLS also reports that 48 states use the 6-hour Multistate Bar Exam, and some states use the 3-hour Multistate Essay Examination (www.bls.gov). As well as possessing a J.D. degree from an ABA-accredited institution, you may be required to demonstrate moral character by some states. In the entertainment mecca of California, for example, attorneys who wish practice law need to pass a background check and apply for moral character determination before taking the bar exam (http://admissions.calbar.ca.gov).
What Will I Do as an Entertainment Lawyer?
You'll handle situations that are common and often exclusive to the entertainment industry. Typical examples include writers' strikes, defamation suits and contract negotiations. You can represent individuals, like actors and directors, and firms, such as production companies. You'll apply your extensive training in areas such as copyright, contract and intellectual property law.
What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?
Lawyers must be familiar with legal contract terminology and able to prepare proper court paperwork and file any required documents pertaining to their clients. In this regard, the work of paralegals and legal assistants is similar. They work under the supervision of lawyers to prepare materials for the clients the lawyer represents and may draft contracts or other legal paperwork and file that paperwork with the courts. They are required to have an associate's degree. The tasks that arbitrators, mediators and conciliators perform also have some similarities to the work lawyers do. Arbitrators, mediators and conciliators listen to opposing sides in a conflict and try to negotiate a compromise to resolve the dispute. They need a bachelor's degree, a familiarity with the law, and the ability to recommend contract terms for the parties to agree on.