Sports and entertainment law has emerged as one of the more popular boutique practice areas in the country. Law students, perhaps hypnotized by the glamor and excitement of show business, were attracted in large numbers of the opportunities in sports and entertainment law.
Unfortunately for these students, out of the many who aspire to greatness only a few ever see their names in lights, and very few lawyers reach the top of the entertainment business.
Because of sports, must, theater, and show business and different branches of the same industry, there are some common elements. Company lawyers represent teams, studios, and production companies. Agents represent the players, actors, and musicians.
Interestingly, many of these agents are not lawyers, although many are. Nonlawyer agents periodically may be required to use separately legal counsel in work for their clients. Agents who are lawyers face unique ethical problems operating in an environment with non-lawyers who are not constrained by the same ethical duties.
In one sense, sports and entertainment law is basically contract law. All the parties to a transaction agree to perform certain functions in return for financial remuneration. The agreements governing these often complex productions are drafted and defended by lawyers.
Not the least of the problems encountered by sports and entertainment lawyers is the difficulty of dealing with colossal egos who possess a limited understanding of the law.
Lawyers in this field often engage in other areas of practice defined by their work setting. Thus, lawyers for a motion picture studio may practice corruption law. An agent for a movie star may be involved in financial planning and investment for his or her client.
Such investment may include independent production companies, restaurants, product endorsement, and a host of other ventures. Some of these lawyers also get involved in other areas or practice involving their clients, including criminal law, domestic relations, and defamation.
The overall picture to be drawn of sports and entertainment law presents a diverse field that is both exciting and challenging, but very small in numbers. Many of those who succeed in this business have contacts in the industry that predate law school, and those considering a career in entertainment law should begin at an early date to develop such ties.