Choosing the RIGHT attorney is the first and most important step in finding legal representation for your matter. What does finding the RIGHT attorney entail? It means finding an attorney who is: (1) EXPERIENCED; (2) PERSONABLE; (3) PASSIONATE; and (4) AFFORDABLE. So, what does this all mean?
Let’s start with EXPERIENCE. =)
Whether you’re looking for an attorney to represent you in a car accident, or an attorney to represent you in a recording deal, you need someone who’s knowledgeable about the type of practice area your matter involves and someone who has dealt with the kinds of cases (like yours) that commonly occur in that area. So, if you’re a singer/songwriter, it wouldn’t make sense for you to hire a criminal defense attorney to represent you in talks concerning a publishing contract as the latter wouldn’t have a clue about the norms and standards in the music industry and its practice; nor would it make sense for you to hire a general practice attorney who practices all areas of law, be it personal injury, breach of contract, landlord-tenant, immigration, general litigation and/or other practice areas – because most of the time, the latter simply doesn’t have the wide array of cases in the music industry under his/her belt, nor the experience to catch nuances a music attorney would easily navigate and take control of in negotiation talks.
All of this talk reminds me of one time when I was representing my client (a reputable talent management company here in Los Angeles) in a conflict that it had with one of its talent. The talent had retained a general practice attorney who, knowing nothing about the industry and how things worked, persisted on sticking to what she knew of general contract drafting and interpretation and ended up drawing our conflict out and wasting everyone’s time and money, instead of finding a solution that was acceptable by both lawyers and parties. Indeed what a nightmare that was!!! I found myself teaching the opposing counsel (attorney) on the fundamentals of how things worked in auditioning and casting, while this opposing counsel continued billing her client as she tried to brush up on her little knowledge of the industry and its practice.
SO?!! The safest and most cost effective first step in picking the right attorney really comes down to finding someone who has a niche in the particular practice area of law that your matter involves. Thus, if you’re a screenwriter who needs to find an attorney who can rep you in talks with a studio over development related matter or simply an option purchase contract, then it makes sense for you to find someone who’s an entertainment lawyer, and not some Mr. Joe Esquire down the street. Even with finding an entertainment lawyer, you need to be careful and see if the entertainment attorney only practices just music law, or just film law or is equally experienced in both. So, when you’re looking at attorney profiles, the first thing you should look at are (1) the practice areas listed in each attorney profile. If your case falls into one of the practice areas listed, then that’s a start. Next, for the attorneys that you’ve narrowed down to, (2) look at how many practice areas are listed, and whether those listed are related with each other. The less number of practice areas and the more related the practice areas are with each other, the better. And then lastly, (3) look at the number of years each attorney has been practicing a practice area for, and what background or connections, outside of law, each attorney has to that practice area or industry.
Come back Wednesday and read up on Part 2 of how to find the right attorney. =)
Disclaimer: Please note that the information contained within this blog post and site is offered simply as a consideration to visitors who are in the entertainment industry and are seeking to learn more about various areas of entertainment, be it in film, television, music, digital, new media, merchandising and/or branding. As such, the information so provided should never be construed as legal advice. If you need further assistance or legal advice for your specific matter, please do not hesitate in contacting an entertainment attorney (film, television, music, digital, licensing, film financing) here in Los Angeles at The Hollywood Lawyer by (1) emailing us at firstname.lastname@example.org; (2) calling us at (323) 300-4184; or (3) filling out our online form.