When you are searching for a lawyer in an aspect of the entertainment industry, whether film and television, talent representation, book publishing, licensing and branding, or intellectual property, it is important to choose the right one. Each attorney you find will have vastly different experience and knowledge, regarding both subject matter and jurisdiction.
When you hire a lawyer to represent you for negotiations or litigation, you are entrusting your business interests and reputation with them. This is why it is so important to be sure you retain counsel with experience in the jurisdiction you need and with the types of matters relevant to your business.
For example, the Philadelphia entertainment lawyer who handles book publishing contracts will likely not be the same as a well-regarded tax attorney. Even considering the same practice area focus, the top music lawyer will not be similar to any other music lawyer in Philadelphia.
Below, we have outlined some of the most important things to consider when you are looking to retain counsel, regardless of your specific legal need or where you are located.
In both the legal industry and the entertainment industry, reputation means everything. A bad reputation in either industry can be the end of one’s career. When you are looking to hire an entertainment lawyer, there are a number of ways to research whether they are well-respected and in good standing.
The first step to determining whether a lawyer has a solid reputation or questionable credentials is looking up the attorney on the state bar association or court website where the lawyer says they are admitted to practice. You can search either by the lawyer’s name or their Bar Number. To search for a lawyer in California, you would visit the website for the State Bar of California.
To find out whether an individual in Pennsylvania is actually a Philadelphia entertainment lawyer, you can search on the website of the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania’s Disciplinary Board. From these kinds of sites, you can identify whether the lawyer you are interested in is in good standing where they say they are admitted to practice. You can also see whether there are any disciplinary actions pending against them.
Another useful way to determine whether a lawyer has a solid reputation is by reading online reviews and client testimonials. You can search online and read about what a lawyer’s previous clients have to say about their interactions.
Many online reviews include details about the type of matter the lawyer handled on the client’s behalf, as well as whether that client would recommend others hire the lawyer. One point of caution is to explore beyond the lawyer’s own website to review testimonials: Unsurprisingly, a lawyer will likely only put favorable reviews on their personal website. A broader online search may reveal views that are more candid.
Client testimonials and reviews can also show what previous clients think are the lawyer’s strengths and weaknesses, which can be important when making your final decision.
One of the best ways to figure out whether a lawyer is reputable is by seeking recommendations and referrals from the people closest to you within your network. Your friends and family will give you an honest assessment about lawyers they have used in the past. Especially if they understand your legal needs, the referral or recommendation from a family member, friend, or colleague is a good way to identify a reputable lawyer to help protect your interests.
Even the most reputable lawyer may not be able to meet your legal needs if they do not have the necessary knowledge and experience to effectively represent you. For example, the Philadelphia entertainment lawyer will not have the jurisdictional experience to provide effective representation as an entertainment lawyer in Hollywood.
When you meet with a prospective lawyer to represent you, it is important to ask about their experience handling matters similar to yours. With respect to those cases, you should also ask about the lawyer’s track record and whether the clients achieved the outcomes they wanted.
Another way to evaluate a lawyer’s knowledge and experience is by looking at their thought leadership. Relevant thought leadership that could effectively demonstrate knowledge and experience include speaking engagements at industry events and conferences, writing books and authoring articles. Attorneys with substantial knowledge and experience in a field of law or industry often will be quoted in news articles relevant to their legal practice. It could also be helpful to research whether the lawyer is a member in any professional associations or industry groups that relate to the type of representation you need.
How your lawyer and their law firm will manage your case and communicate with you as a client are crucial factors to consider when determining whether an attorney is a good fit for you. For example, a solo practitioner will have different methods than a lawyer working for a firm with many lawyers and a large team of support staff. One of the most important questions to ask a lawyer at the initial consultation is who will be handling your case, whether it is the lawyer you meet with, a more junior lawyer in the office, or a paralegal.
Communication style is also a key factor of how a lawyer manages their clients’ matters. You want to be sure that there will always be a way to reach your lawyer or a trusted member of their team in the event of a legal emergency. More generally, though, it is important to know how the prospective attorney will keep you apprised of any updates on your case. Communication is critical, and you will need to be able to trust that your lawyer will be sure to keep you informed.
Perhaps the bottom line with regard to case management is fee structure. While some lawyers charge an hourly rate that is taken out of a retainer, others will work on contingency, depending on the type of matter. Before you sign any paperwork committing to legal representation, be sure to clarify how fees will be structured with regard to your representation, as well as whether any additional expenses will arise during the course of your matter.
The Hollywood Lawyer, a leading entertainment and media law firm, regularly represents clients across all aspects of the entertainment industry. Whether your matter involves film and television, talent representation, book publishing, licensing and branding, or intellectual property.
Our seasoned legal professionals are prepared to vigorously represent your best interests. Contact us today to schedule a free consultation.