Entertainment lawyers get to represent some of the most interesting people–from musicians to television studios to actors. They are involved in some very high-profile and public cases. Being an entertainment lawyer can even make you a bit of a celebrity yourself.
Entertainment lawyers can help negotiate contracts, explain confusing contract clauses to clients, keep tabs on important names in the industry, and act as legal counsel to artists of all kinds.
If you’re interested in becoming an entertainment lawyer, here are the basic steps you need to follow:
1. Take Courses Related to the Entertainment Industry in Your Undergrad
If you’re going to be successful as an entertainment lawyer, you need to know more than just law. You need to be in the know. If you want to work with artists in the music industry, you better have some knowledge of how the industry works.
This is true of any industry. You’ll need to know how deals are typically done, how the industry has been evolving, and who the big names in the industry are.
Take courses in your undergrad that are related to the industry that you want to represent clients in. If you want to represent film studios or actors, take classes in film and film history. If you want to represent writers or publishing houses, take classes in publishing and literature.
Studying the industry will help you understand your clients, their goals, and their situation.
2. Take the LSATs
Before you can start working toward your law degree, you need to pass the LSAT, or Law School Admissions Test.
The test assesses your skills to see whether you’d be likely to thrive in law school or not. It judges your reading comprehension, analytical skills, and logical reasoning skills. You need to get a qualifying score on the LSATs to go to law school.
The test is made up of five 35-minute sections. These sections are multiple-choice and only four of them count toward your score, the fifth section is used to develop and test new LSAT questions.
There is also a writing section that is not scored. The purpose of this section is to demonstrate your skill in building and communicating an argument. It will offer you a hypothetical situation and ask you to defend an action or decision regarding that situation. It won’t be graded right or wrong, but it will be evaluated for argument-structuring skills.
Before taking the LSATs, make sure to take advantage of free preparation materials. Practice tests and a set study schedule can help set you up for success. If you don’t pass the first time, you can always retake your LSAT once the next testing period comes around.
3. Graduate from a Law School
Of course, you need a law degree to become an entertainment lawyer. Choosing the right law school for you can seem like an overwhelming decision. This education will set the foundation for the rest of your career.
The first and biggest step to finding the right school for you is knowing what you want out of your education and your career. Since you know that you want to be an entertainment lawyer, this will help narrow things down for you a bit.
When you choose where to go to school, consider where you want to work once you graduate. Some of the biggest locations for the entertainment industry are either in New York or Lost Angeles.
Looking within that scope, you have a few prestigious schools to choose from:
- UCLA School of Law
- UC Berkeley School of Law
- Columbia Law School
- Loyola Law School
- And more
4. Move to a Thriving Entertainment Industry Location
If you decide to get your education from a school that is not located near an entertainment industry hub, it would be a good idea for you to move closer to a major city or location that will have more opportunities for you. If you go to school in, say, Wyoming, there won’t be many, if any, available positions for a new graduate to step into.
We already mentioned New York and Los Angeles, but if those don’t sound like the right fit for you, here are some good areas you might not have previously considered:
- New Orleans
These cities have made names for themselves in a number of industries, including music, television, and movies. Think about which industry you want to work in and do some research on which cities they operate in. You may be surprised at some of the locations that you find.
5. Take the Bar Exam for that State
Once you know where you want to work, you know which bar exam you have to take. Each state requires that lawyers pass the bar of their state. You can be admitted to practice law in multiple states, but you typically have to pass the bar in each of them. That’s why it’s important to pick the location (and ideally, land an offer) before taking the bar in that state.
The bar exam is notorious for being one of the most difficult exams to pass. It takes months of full-time preparation. To be properly prepared, it’s essential that you obtain some quality bar review materials, take and grade several practice tests, work one-on-one with a tutor, and find a peer to be your study partner.
The Uniform Bar Exam (UBE) is currently used in 34 states and includes:
- MBE: Multistate Bar Exam, 6 hours, 200 multiple choice questions, covers the civil procedure, contracts, torts, constitutional law, criminal law and procedure, evidence, and real property.
- MPT: Multistate Performance Test, 90 minutes, covers factual analysis, legal analysis, legal reasoning, problem-solving, identification and resolution of ethical dilemmas, written communication, and organization and management of a legal task.
- MEE: Multistate Essay Exam, 3 hours, 6 essay questions, covers business associations, civil procedure, conflict of laws, constitutional law, contracts, criminal law and procedure, evidence, family law, real property, secured transactions, torts, trusts, and estates.
Becoming an entertainment lawyer, or a lawyer of any kind requires hard work, dedication, perseverance, and talent. If you’re interested in pursuing a career as an entertainment attorney, use this guide as a starting point for your research. While the basic points are here, there is still a lot more that goes into the process. Google away and good luck!