If you could do a quick survey of everyone in Hollywood to find out how they became stars, you would likely find that there are two distinct camps: those that sought to be a star and worked hard at it and those people who, through one way or another, became stars without ever really meaning to. Regardless of how you have joined the non stop circus that is the entertainment industry, you are likely in need of a trained professional to help you from this point on. No matter what others may tell you, the field of entertainment law is highly specialized. Colleges and universities offer completely separate degrees in entertainment law because of how complex it can be, so it is probably best not to listen to your uncle who is a real estate lawyer when he asks to manage your career. Here are a few tips you should consider when picking the right entertainment lawyer for you.
The most important attribute that your entertainment lawyer should possess is versatility. While most lawyers make their living prosecuting or defending cases in front of a judge, your entertainment lawyer will also need to be a wizard with contracts. From big to small, contracts rule Hollywood. If you are an actor who sees him or herself in films, television or commercials, you will likely be singing contracts every step of the way. While you may need your entertainment lawyer to represent you in a court of law should something happen, it is their role as a contact specialist that makes them so valuable.
Some members of the entertainment industry also use their entertainment lawyer as their agent, while some people find that heaping even more responsibility on an already overworked lawyer tends to yield negative results. If you do choose to utilize your entertainment lawyer as your agent, you are going to need to check and then double check a whole new list of criteria that they can meet. It is also possible that the role of entertainment lawyer can change over time. For instance, the musical group R.E.M. originally had an entertainment lawyer and a band manager that served as their agent. As time went on and operations became more streamlined, the band’s entertainment lawyer slowly took on the responsibilities of both jobs, so it helps to find an entertainment lawyer who is open to accepting new challenges and is also a fast learner.
If the search for your own entertainment lawyer has you feeling overwhelmed, it is always a good idea to seek out personal references. Even if you are new to the entertainment industry, chances are you know others who have more experience in the business than you do. Find out who the respected names are in your field and call around. There is often an entire interview process where you can speak to an entertainment lawyer one on one before deciding which one you want to work with. Remember, they need to impress you to earn your business.