How to Choose the Right Music Attorney for You
By: Erin M. Jacobson, Music and Entertainment Attorney
Like dating, choosing a music attorney is all about the right fit between the attorney and the client. There are several aspects to consider in deciding what kind of attorney is right for you. Here is a brief list of qualities to look for when choosing an attorney.
Aside from being a skilled attorney, personality is one of the most important aspects in choosing an attorney. You want to make sure you like this person, (s)he communicates with you in a style you understand, and that you feel (s)he has your best interests at heart.
Is this attorney experienced in music law and has (s)he previously handled similar types of deals with good results? The attorney’s reputation often precedes him/her, but if not, it is okay to ask about the attorney’s experience or career, and whether his/her practice experience matches the types of deals you need handled.
3. Artist’s Needs
Attorneys do different things. Some sue people, some handle contracts, and other attorneys “shop.” Think about what you need and try to find an attorney whose services match those needs.
Note that many attorneys do not shop, so it is wise to check the attorney’s website or ask the attorney for his/her shopping policy before requesting that the attorney shop you.
4. Similar Clients
You might consider an attorney that already has clients similar in style and genre to your music. This is not essential, but it is a good starting point for an artist who does not currently know any attorneys and wants to do some research on who he might want to contact.
Just like personality, each attorney has his/her own style. Some scream and try to intimidate the other side, some like to party with the band, and some just want everyone to get along. Your attorney is part of your team and can be a representation of your image, so think of how you want to be portrayed in this business through your representatives.
Attorneys have different billing rates that are usually based on their experience and number of years in practice. Some attorneys only bill hourly and/or take retainers, while some will also charge a flat fee or take a percentage of income or a deal. Take serious consideration of what the attorney quotes you and whether you can afford it.
7. How to find an attorney?
After you have considered the above criteria and know what kind of attorney you want, you may wonder how to actually find that person. You can ask your creative friends for referrals, look online, or consult music business directories. Of course, you can always contact me through my website (www.themusicindustrylawyer.com), where there is also an expanded series of posts on this topic.
I hope this post was helpful in starting you on your path to choosing an attorney.