Getting Started as an Entertainment Lawyer

If you’re currently enrolled in or about to start law school and have dreams of making it big as an entertainment lawyer, there are some topics you must become familiar with to develop the skills and confidence necessary to become successful in the entertainment industry.

Intellectual Property

At its heart, entertainment is about creativity and the people whose ideas fascinate and enthrall audiences. Entertainment lawyers like John Branca know that it is essential to use intellectual property law to protect the work of these creative geniuses. Intellectual property refers to the use of trademarks, copyrights and patents to legally proclaim ownership of ideas and prevent others from copying and profiting off others’ works. Entertainment lawyers need to have a strong understanding of trademarks, which refers to logos, names and branding, and copyright, which gives sole ownership of creative work to the creator so that only the creator authorizes copies of his or her work. By using copyrights and trademarks, an entertainment lawyer can help a creator control his or her ideas and generate an income stream by authorizing selective use for profitable endeavors.

Transactional Law

A good entertainment lawyer needs to protect the work of its creative clients by being familiar with transactional law. This type of law refers to the non-adversarial work involved in business formation, contract creation and review and mergers and acquisitions. An artist looking to license their work will generally need to form a business entity, create licensing agreements and be prepared to discuss merging their creative business with larger entities. A skilled transactional lawyer can keep the bigger picture in mind while staying detail-oriented; he or she should also have excellent negotiation skills, as contractual agreements can often become oppositional as each side tries to craft the document to favor their side.


Litigation is also a necessary skill for an entertainment lawyer to adequately represent his or her client’s interest. Entertainment law can quickly become adversarial when a client seeks to zealously protect their creative ideas from corporations that may seek to alter their original form to increase profits and appeal to a wider customer base. From copyright infringement and unlicensed works to breach of contract, litigation skills are necessary to represent clients in the entertainment industry.

To get started as an entertainment lawyer, first focus on the basics. A solid foundation in intellectual property rights, transactional work and sharp litigation skills will go a long way in preparing you for a successful career in the entertainment field.