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.
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.
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.
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.
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.