Entertainment Law -- What It Is and How to Jumpstart Your Career

By Gabriella Khorasanee, JD on February 26, 2014 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

Anyone else have Oscar fever? In the spirit of the Academy Awards, and our great anticipation of the red carpet awards ceremony, we thought it would be interesting to take a look at the field of entertainment law.

Like many who enter the legal profession, we're guessing that there's a secret desire in you to work in a creative field. Yeah, you're not the only one, it's a pretty common theme in the lawyer files. That said, one area of law that creatives are naturally drawn to is entertainment law -- if you can't be an entertainer, then might as well represent one -- goes the thought process.

While that's a valid approach, before you make the big leap into the mystery that is entertainment law, here are a few things to consider, and that will help you along your career path.

Yesterday, we talked about this idea for the in-house crowd, today, this is for the rest of us.

Entertainment Law -- What Is It Exactly?

Unlike other areas of law that are quite specific, entertainment law involves many aspects of law, and instead focuses on the type of clients one has. The practice areas that an entertainment lawyer must be comfortable with include litigation, intellectual property, taxation, immigration, employment/labor, business, contract, taxation and international to name a few, according to the American Bar Association.

Location, Location, Location

Like any business, when it comes to entertainment law, location matters. Because much of the entertainment industry is in New York and Los Angeles, most of the entertainment law work is based in those two cities, reports the ABA. In fact, if you look at a list of the top ten entertainment law schools, all except two, are located in California and New York, according to The Hollywood Reporter. One school is Harvard, because well, it's Harvard. The other is based in Nashville, a/k/a/ Music City, the heart of country music.

Mentoring Matters

"In Hollywood, it's not what you know, but who you know." The saying is just as true for entertainment lawyers, as it is for fledgling actors. If you want to make it in entertainment law, start using, and building your contacts. Go to Los Angeles and New York, and attend entertainment law networking events. According to one lawyer who made the jump from BigLaw to entertainment law, there may be huge pay cuts involved, but if "you really want something," then you'll go after it -- just like all those starving artists.

While you may feel confined by the law industry, there are so many different practice areas, that there is most any niche for areas of particular interest. If you think entertainment is one of those areas, start networking now -- it's more important than ever.

Editor's Note, March 1, 2016: This post was first published in February 2014. It has since been updated.

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