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by Vault Law Editors | January 03, 2024


Lawyers practicing in media, entertainment, and sports represent artists, entertainers and athletes, movie studios and record labels, sports leagues and teams, and other associated parties. On the transactional side, the day-to-day work is often similar to the work of any other corporate attorney, with perhaps more IP issues involved, including drafting agreements, negotiating, counseling clients, and researching IP questions. Entertainment lawyers also handle disputes relating to the field, including everything from contracts to defamation to IP issues to licensing to first amendment, and more. Media, entertainment, and sports law is seen as glamorous and can be hard to break into, especially outside of LA and NY. Entertainment and Sports lawyers who represent creatives and athletes will have to deal with big egos and sometimes unrealistic expectations and lawyers who represent studios, teams, labels, and other companies are essentially doing corporate generalist work for more interesting clients. Large law firms will often fold these clients into their general corporate practices. Lawyers who wants to specialize in these areas often practice at media and entertainment boutiques.

In our Practice Area Q&As, attorneys from law firms with top-ranked Media, Entertainment & Sports practices share insights about their practice, including what it's like to practice day-to-day in this field and how you can prepare to work in this area if that's your interest. Keep reading for their insights!

What is a typical day like and/or what are some common tasks you perform?

James Taylor, Partner—Loeb & Loeb LLPMy day-to-day schedule varies greatly and can range from being deep in a negotiation on an ad-tech transaction to counseling a client on a complex privacy issue to navigating the intricacies of a talent negotiation or sponsorship agreement. I try to plan for my day, but I never know what might hit my desk. I like the unexpected and the challenges it sometimes brings and seem to thrive on it and the fast pace. I particularly love and pride myself on maintaining close relationships with my clients. I try to be their consigliere and listen to them, understand their problems or issues, and try to help them find a solution. That is the most rewarding part of my job.

Silvia Vannini, Partner—O'Melveny & Myers LLP: I spend most of my time communicating with clients, negotiating with opposing counsel, coordinating with internal teams, and reviewing and commenting on work product.

Matthew C. Thompson, Partner—Sidley Austin LLP: My day starts early—usually with non-U.S.-related phone calls. This is followed by making my way through my bloated email inbox and triaging what needs to be handled. The balance of the so-called business hours in the day are spent on calls and in meetings (these days via Zoom). Evening hours are for the actual nitty gritty of deal work that I am unable to get through during the day, including drafting and revising deal docs. 

What training, classes, experience, or skills development would you recommend to someone who wishes to enter your practice area?

James Taylor: It's helpful to take classes on advertising and marketing, privacy, technology, and intellectual property law. However, I do think that sometimes too much emphasis is placed on putting these classes on a 'must-take' list. Classes and experiences that focus on writing, problem-solving, and learning how to work collaboratively are just as critical, if not more so. Being a good writer means that you are a good and creative thinker, and that's what clients want and need. Reading and understanding how businesses work are also critical, so I recommend that people interested in this area read the trades and journals that our clients in this area read. Finally, keeping abreast of new laws and regulations, particularly those that cover privacy and technology, is critical. Writing on these subjects and interviewing people in the business community who are facing these issues on a daily basis is a great way to start building the "muscle" for this work.

Silvia Vannini: A solid foundation in corporate law (including M&A and financing) as well as a basic understanding of film and television content creation and distribution are useful, and core concepts in intellectual property law are also quite important.

Matthew C. Thompson: Immerse yourself in the industry. Read all the trades daily. Read all the legal publication updates daily. Create a network of people you know in the industry (especially on the non-legal side of things) and nurture it. Figure out what is important to your clients and get involved. Get to know your clients' businesses as well as they do, and understand what their short-, medium-, and long-term goals are. Be available. Be proactive. Admit your mistakes. Share credit with others. And remember, there is a very small community of practitioners who do this work at the highest level, and—as such—reputation and honesty are critical because you will see the same people over and over, deal after deal.