Are you looking to hire an entertainment lawyer, but aren’t sure which one to choose?
Entertainment lawyers represent and protect the interest of creatives and companies in the entertainment industry. Those who work in film, theater, publishing, music, or news media could all benefit from an entertainment lawyer.
From negotiating contracts to protecting copyrights to managing taxes, entertainment lawyers have a variety of responsibilities. But, how do you choose the right entertainment lawyer for your needs?
Check out this guide to discover what you need to know about hiring an entertainment lawyer.
1. Figure Out if You Need One
Before you hire an entertainment lawyer, you first need to figure out whether or not you really need one. A lot of people think they need to hire an entertainment lawyer when in reality, they should be hiring an agent or publicist.
While the scope of an entertainment lawyer’s work can be extensive, in general, they’re in charge of handling the following:
- Negotiating contracts
- Protecting intellectual property
- Advising and connecting clients
It’s important to understand that agents and other industry representatives cannot negotiate contracts or handle potential litigation matters. However, this doesn’t mean that an entertainment lawyer should take the place of an agent or manager. Managers and agents can still help you with making industry connections and securing project deals.
Whether or not you need an entertainment lawyer will depend largely on your role in the entertainment industry and how far along you are in your career. Just because you’ve booked a couple of gigs doesn’t necessarily mean you need to hire an entertainment lawyer.
However, if you’re in a position where your contract is getting negotiated, then an entertainment lawyer should be involved. Or, maybe you’re a writer whose work has been stolen or plagiarized. Even if you’re not super famous, in this case, an entertainment lawyer would be necessary.
Depending on the scope of your needs and how successful your career is, you may even find that you need to hire a team of entertainment lawyers.
2. Ask Around for References
The best place to start your search for an entertainment lawyer is with your own circle. If you’re heavily involved in the entertainment industry, chances are, you have a colleague or friend who has already worked with an entertainment lawyer.
Entertainment lawyers are used to juggling multiple clients at once, so chances are, you’ll be able to find a lawyer through a personal reference. If you’ve worked with other attorneys, you can also ask them for references.
Of course, a referral isn’t a guarantee of success, but it’s a good place to start. If you were happy with the first attorney you worked with, then chances are they’ll be able to refer you to someone else with the same work ethic and standards.
3. Get in Contact With the Bar Association
In addition to asking colleagues and other lawyers you know for references, it’s also a good idea to get in contact with the American Bar Association.
This is a nationwide professional organization of lawyers that provides legal services and publishes a variety of information related to legal topics. You can look up the bar association in your area to find referral contacts for entertainment lawyers near you.
You can also head to the ABA website and select your state. From there, you’ll be given contact information for the bar association in your area, and they can help put you in contact with a lawyer who will meet your needs.
You can also check clearinghouses and other associations for referrals. One group, the Volunteer Lawyers for the Arts, provides reduced-cost legal help to artists in need.
You can also conduct a general search online to find entertainment lawyers in your area. A reputable law firm will have a Google MY Business page with positive reviews.
4. Interview Prospective Lawyers
Once you’ve compiled a list of potential entertainment lawyers, it’s time to schedule in-person consultations so you can see if they’re the right person for the job.
Before setting up an appointment with an entertainment lawyer, you first need to make sure they offer free consultations. Hiring a lawyer is very expensive, and you don’t want to blow your budget on a bunch of different consultations that don’t pan out. Most reputable lawyers offer free consultations, so narrow your list to include only those that offer this service.
During your consultation, here’s what you need to ask:
How Do You Charge?
One of the biggest things you need to consider is how much you’re going to be paying for your entertainment lawyer. Entertainment lawyers use different methods for billing their clients.
Some lawyers charge an hourly rate, while others charge a flat-rate fee. You’ll also need to talk about contingency rates. A contingency rate means you’ll only pay for the lawyer if they win your case. If they do win, they’ll receive a portion of your winnings (to be determined when signing your contract).
However, if you’re an industry big wig, you may need to hire an entertainment lawyer for the long term. For long term representation, the lawyer will generally earn a portion of your income, and in exchange, they’ll take care of issues as they arise.
What’s Your Experience?
As we mentioned earlier, the term “entertainment lawyer” is very broad, and their work covers a wide range of responsibilities. This is why it’s so important to ask about experience before hiring.
You don’t just want to know about the number of years they’ve been working, you also want to ensure they’ve worked with clients who are similar to you and handled cases that are similar to yours. For example, if you work in the music industry and need help with copyright protection, you don’t want to hire an entertainment lawyer who only has experience drafting contracts for actors.
Are You Ready to Hire an Entertainment Lawyer?
Now that you’ve read this guide, it’s time for you to hire an entertainment lawyer. Following the tips above will ensure that you find the right lawyer for your needs.
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