How to Find a Music / Entertainment Attorney
by Best Selling Author, Jaci Rae
Prior to signing any contracts, seek legal representation from an established and reputable entertainment lawyer / attorney. To find a lawyer to fit your needs, go to your local bar association and get a referral.
After you have obtain information on a few lawyers' (at least), contact them and explain your needs. If they can accommodate you, ask for references and follow-up on those references. Check out the Better Business Bureau and the National Bar Association to see if there are any complaints filed against the lawyer or their firm.
Once you have established that they are reputable, set up an initial consultation. Many attorneys offer a free 30-minute consultation, but you need to ask them up front what their total cost will be. During your face-to-face, inquire about their experience and background, keeping in mind that you may only have 30-mintues without charge and you want to make the most of that free time. Ask if you can show you sample contracts they have drafted, and find out to what extent they actually have dealings in the entertainment industry.
An option for artists who are short on funds but need legal representation is the VLA (Volunteer Lawyers for the Arts). The VLA was formed in 1969 and was, as their site states: "the first legal aid organization in the U.S. dedicated to providing free or low-cost arts-related legal assistance to artists and arts organizations in all creative fields who cannot afford private counsel."
You will need to apply for assistance and pay an application fee. Their main office is located in New York. Their phone number is: 212-977-9271. The address is: 1285 Avenue of the Americas, 3rd floor, New York, NY 10019. You may contact them there to find an office that is closer to where you live if New York is too far away. They have satellite offices all over the country.
When dealing in contracts of any kind, use the following protocol:
- Make sure your lawyer is present with you. If you can't make the date you have scheduled - reschedule!
- Make sure that you have a prioritized agenda. That will make your meeting more time-efficient for both parties.
- Don't give in on big or small points unless there is a mutually-reached compromise.
- Always address the concerns of both parties (yours and theirs) with a win/win attitude.
- Always take copious notes and verbally confirm all points during the meeting.
- Follow up all negotiations with a letter that summarizes the details that were agreed upon. Ask for a written response within a certain time frame if there is anything in dispute.
This should cover most of the points you need to address during your meeting. Ask your lawyer for more information.