How To Choose An Entertainment Attorney
Updated: Dec 31, 2019
The following is a transcript of a video, which can be seen here. Find all my videos at www.YouTube.com/MissKrystleLive
You're ready to hire an entertainment attorney. Congratulations! That means you take yourself and your music career very seriously. That's the mindset you need to be in as we go through the steps that you need to keep in mind when looking to find the best entertainment attorney for you.
1. The First Step Is to Determine Qualifications. This cannot be said enough. Just because an attorney has a law degree does not mean that they know what to do in your situation, or that they are going to be able to offer the kind of representation that you need. Please keep this in mind. You need to understand that entertainment attorneys are just like anyone else in the industry in that, just because they are an “attorney,” “manager,” “agent,” or a “record label” does not mean that this person knows the best way to guide your music career. Not all attorneys are the right fit for you, so be as critical as you would be with any other team member or person that you work with. In addition, understand that sometimes you might find someone who represented some of the biggest acts in the industry, or someone that you look up to, this doesn’t guarantee that they can offer the right type of assistance for you now. What you need to question is, can they represent you? What are their qualifications? Are they currently in the industry? Are they negotiating deals right now with labels, distribution partners, publishing companies, and the kinds of companies and people that you are going to want to work with? You are going to want someone who has that real-world experience that they can bring to your career and benefit you. Your entertainment attorney is going to be your mentor, they are going to be advising you on what deals to take and what deals not to. Seek this out when looking to hire your entertainment attorney.
2. You Want An Entertainment Attorney Who Cares About You. You want someone that is truly going to care about you and your music career. You don't want an attorney who's only doing this because they are a hired gun. You don’t want to hire an attorney solely because they have a fantastic resume and you think you're going to get a certain type of service. The reality is, you need an attorney who is really invested in you and your career and wants to see you succeed.
3. Trust Your Gut! Remember that attorneys are hired guns, so you can terminate the relationship at any point. If it’s not working out, fire your attorney. Understand that the relationship with you and your attorney is a collaborative process. You're supposed to have an entertainment attorney who's going to help advise you, mentor you, and give you business direction. If you see any red flags, take the time to think it through and remember you can fire your attorney if you need to.
4. Let's Talk Attorney’s Fees. The range of attorney’s fees varies pretty widely depending on geography, meaning where you live and what the standard rates for attorneys are in that area. You will want to do some research if you're just getting started. Find a couple of different entertainment attorneys in your area and get some price quotes to see what the average pricing is. From there, you can decide whether it makes sense to move forward. Entertainment attorneys have different types of fee structures. Sometimes they will do hourly rates, so you just pay for the actual time spent on a matter. They can also offer hybrid rates as well, so you have hourly, but a portion of the work will be flat feed and/or contingency. Entertainment attorneys want to make sure that you are protected. Ask those questions regarding fees and fee structures ahead of time to help avoid surprises. Attorneys can be pretty pricey, so that's why you want to do your research and find someone that's going to be competitive, but also be able to keep costs low for you without sacrificing quality. Quality is really important, please make the investment. It's all about investing in yourself, your career and being able to set yourself up for success. Focus on the good stuff in your career and leave all the messy stuff to the entertainment attorney. Make sure you find someone that you trust so that you stay protected every step of the way.
5. Longevity of Relationship. Just like with family, friends, and business associates, you want to make sure that you are cultivating the relationship with your attorney, because it can lead to additional benefits. If you find your ideal attorney, someone who has your back, who is going to fight for you, knows what opportunities that are best for you, and is willing to mentor you, you’ve struck gold. You've found the right person and you want to stick with that person for as long as possible, and it’s going to make a difference in the overall direction of your career because you have a mentor who's been with you for a while. Let's switch gears and talk about you as a client and what behaviors are going to help you to reinforce and strengthen your attorney-client relationship. Setting expectations, exercising good communication, being respectful of time, and understanding the fact that your attorney probably has a pretty massive caseload are all things to keep in mind. If you're an easy client to work with, and your attorney likes you and what you're doing, the attorney is probably going to invest a little bit more into you, and that’s never a bad thing.
6. Bonus tip! Don't lie to your attorney! Don't conveniently leave out important information regarding your legal matter. It might be a little embarrassing, but the whole point of your attorney is to protect you and advocate for you. Your attorney cannot do that if you're undermining his or her ability to know everything that's happening. Remember, you have attorney-client privilege, and you specifically hold that privilege (meaning your attorney cannot divulge any information unless you say so). There is a reason that these protections are in place, it’s so clients can freely discuss things with their attorneys. The more open you are, the more your attorney will trust you and be able to protect you. Tell your attorney everything!
These are some things to keep in mind when you are in the process of choosing an entertainment attorney. Get an entertainment attorney to work with you and to look at your most important contracts, your record label deals, your management deals, and your licensing agreements. These are the people on your team that are going to keep you from entering into bad deals.