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Entertainment Law Firms in NYC - Choosing the Right Entertainment Lawyer

Having a good entertainment lawyer to counsel you is essential. But no two lawyers are created equal. Here are a few critical things for to think about when you are researching entertainment law firms in New York City.

Most actors, musicians, and other people who make their living in the entertainment world do not think about how important it is to have proper legal representation until the time comes to sign their name on a contract. However, this is a huge, possibly disastrous, mistake. It is always much better to be proactive when it comes to these matters. Signing a contract that you do not completely understand because you did not have a good entertainment lawyer could be devastating to your career. Many people have signed foolish deals early in their career, when they were naive and did not have the proper guidance, only to regret them later. This is why having a good entertainment lawyer to counsel you is so important. Here are a few of the most critical things for you to think about when you are researching entertainment law firms in New York.

Experience

Before I state anything else, I want to be clear that I am not trying to indicate that a lawyer with 10+ years experience is better than a lawyer fresh out of law school. In fact, on certain matters, that lawyer fresh out of law school might be better than the lawyer with 10+ years experience. When I say experience, I mean that when choosing an entertainment lawyer, you want a lawyer that knows the industry you are a part of and has worked with contracts before. 

If you are a musician, ask the entertainment lawyer if he or she has worked with musicians in the past. If you are a filmmaker, ask the entertainment lawyer if he or she has worked with filmmakers in the past. Get it? 

Regardless of your role in the entertainment industry, another point to address with your prospective entertainment attorney is whether he or she has worked with contracts before. When it comes down to it, much of the work an entertainment lawyer does revolves around contracts. Having a lawyer with experience drafting, reviewing, and negotiating contracts is something you may want to consider a requirement when you are choosing an entertainment lawyer. 

Avoid conflicts of interest

You also need to do some research to make sure that the law firm you hire does not also represent people or companies you might be signing a contract within the future. You need to be sure your law firm has no relationship with the people you will be negotiating with.

For most entertainment law firms, this isn't a problem. Whenever an attorney considers taking on a new client, a conflicts check is usually done to ensure that the attorney can actually take on the client. However, it is always recommended that you as a client, double check to make sure your entertainment lawyer is on it. 

Get references

You would be wise to talk to other people in your business field to find out what entertainment law firms they use for their legal representation. Talk to as many people as you can to get a very wide range of opinions. You should make an appointment with any law firms that receive praise from many of the people you speak to.

Fees

The fees that entertainment law firms in NYC charge tend to vary greatly. Therefore, it is in your best interests to shop around and compare their rates. Find out how each lawyer handles their billing. They might bill you in the form of a monthly retainer, a flat fee for handling contracts, a percentage of a contract's value or a simple hourly rate. Make sure that you completely understand how the lawyer will be paid before you agree to hire him or her.

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Julian Cordero is an Attorney, Business Strategist, and Music Producer. Oh and he blogs too!  Julian is licensed to practice law in New York and is the Managing Attorney of Cordero Law LLC, a New York City based law firm focusing on Business Law, Entertainment Law, and Intellectual Property Law.

Forming a Business in New York vs Delaware - Why forming a Delaware LLC is a Mistake

Forming a business in Delaware used to always be the way to go. However, times have changed. Many people wonder whether forming a business in Delaware is more advantageous than forming a business in New York. In this article, the examination will be done with regards to Forming a Business in New York vs Delaware and why Delaware might not be the place to go. 

Usually, when a new client is looking to start a business, he or she will call me and tell me something along the lines of: "I would like to start an LLC in Delaware. Can you help me with that?"  And while I could easily agree and be on my way with my fees in hand - doing so would make me a bad business lawyer.

Is the Customer Really Always Right? 

A good business lawyer is not merely going to do everything his or her client wants (sorry clients)... at least not right away. While forming an LLC in Delaware might be the right option, it might very also well be the wrong, sometimes disastrous, option. A good business lawyer will ask questions, evaluate the situation, and offer advice as to what the best course of action should be.

But let me get off my soap box and get back to my original scenario. After getting this request to form a Delaware LLC, I usually ask two questions. The first is "Why do you want to form an LLC?" and the second is "Why do you want to do it in Delaware?". We will get into the LLC issues on a later blog post, but with regards to the Delaware question, I will usually get a response along the lines of "I don't know" or a variation of it.

Delaware Isn't What it Used to Be - The New General Rule for Where to Form a Business

The truth is, forming a business in Delaware used to be the way to go. However, a lot has changed. Now, hopeful business owners have many options to choose from and aren't as restricted as they used to be. 

As a general rule, I recommend that all new businesses or startups form a business in the state where they are operating. While forming in Delaware might be a good option, there are a lot of factors that need to be taken into account before being able to come up with that conclusion. For example, if your business is located in New York and you registered it as a Delaware LLC, your business does not have the authority to do business in New York. You would need to register that Delaware LLC as a foreign LLC in New York in order to be permitted to do business in New York. Essentially, the business would be paying double the registration costs when they didn't need to do so. And even worse, if they don't register as a NY foreign LLC, years down the line, the business will be responsible for years of back taxes and penalties it should have been paying as a NY foreign LLC. 

Advice Going Forward

This is not to say that there are no advantages to starting a business in Delaware. There are many reasons why starting a business in Delaware still makes sense, especially if you are not starting a run of the mill small business- however these reasons are rare and I only primarily see them in large scale businesses, not small businesses. The only way to know for sure whether it would be a good idea to form a business in Delaware would be to hire an attorney to help you make that decision. While hiring an attorney is by no means, a cheap undertaking, hiring a experienced business attorney to help you make the best decision for your future business is a invaluable investment. Consider hiring one to help you make this decision, among many others, in your next business undertaking.  

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Julian Cordero is an Attorney, Business Strategist, and Music Producer. Oh and he blogs too!  Julian is licensed to practice law in New York and is the Managing Attorney of Cordero Law LLC, a New York City based law firm focusing on Business Law, Entertainment Law, and Intellectual Property Law.