If you’re seeking a career in the music business, there will most likely come a time when it will be important for you to consult with an attorney.
Over the years, I’ve observed many attorneys working with their clients, and I’ve seen many attorney-client relationships work and not work. I want this article to be as helpful as possible, so I will candidly discuss here what you should know about hiring and working successfully with an attorney.
When Should You Consider Hiring an Attorney?
Certainly, you should consult with an experienced entertainment attorney before you sign a contract of any significance. An experienced entertainment attorney can also be very useful as a sounding board for ideas and strategies you have, and as a source of contacts to music business professionals who can help you move ahead in the music business.
How to Find an Entertainment Attorney
There are several ways to find an entertainment attorney:
1. Referrals. Generally, the best approach is to ask people you know who are in the music business and who have previously hired an entertainment attorney. Find out whether they had a good experience, whether the legal matters the attorney handled were similar to the legal matters you need help with, and whether the attorney’s fees were reasonable.
2. Music Business Directories. There are music business directories which list entertainment attorneys, often by geographical area. For example, Music Connection Magazine publishes an excellent annual directory of entertainment attorneys every year. (The newest one is in the January, 2013 issue.)
3. Music Business Conferences. Music business conferences—especially the large conferences like SXSW—are a good way to meet entertainment attorneys and to have some casual interaction with them. That way, you can get a sense of whether they’re a good fit for you. Usually you can find entertainment attorneys on some of the panels at the conference (you’ll often have the opportunity to speak with them after the panel), and also at the scheduled mentoring sessions available to conference attendees.
Once you have the names of a few attorneys, do some online searching to get a better idea of how much experience they have.