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Media, Entertainment, & Sports

Overview

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.

Featured Q&A's
Get an insider's view on working in Media, Entertainment, & Sports from real lawyers in the practice area.
James Taylor, Chair—Advanced Media and Technology
Loeb & Loeb LLP

Describe your practice area and what it entails.

I am the chair of Loeb & Loeb’s Advanced Media and Technology (“AMT”) department, which is one of the largest teams of advertising, media, technology, intellectual property, and privacy lawyers in the country.

We are a comprehensive, multidisciplinary, and cross-functional team, handling transactions, litigation, and counseling across traditional and technology-driven advertising and media. Specific areas of focus for AMT include advertising, marketing, and promotions; advertising disputes, regulatory, and class action defense; sponsorships, endorsements, and brand integrations; privacy, security, and data innovations; intellectual property and brand protection; technology and outsourcing transactions; payments technology; and connected devices and mobility.

What types of clients do you represent?

My clients range from Fortune 100 and 500 companies to middle-market and emerging-growth enterprises. I advise com-
panies across a wide range of industries. On the brand side, this includes financial services, automotive, packaged and consumer goods, retail, imaging and computer technology, health care, entertainment, and telecommunications clients. I also advise the major advertising agencies, public relations/promotion agencies, and media companies that provide services to clients in the above industries (as well as others).

What types of cases/deals do you work on?

My practice is diverse, and I advise clients on all aspects of advertising and marketing law, agency and media agreements, guild and union issues in advertising, as well as the data privacy implications of new and technology-driven advertising. Most recently, I have advised a number of Fortune 500 brands and leading advertising agencies on how to address and manage the impact on their business resulting from new data privacy legislation in the U.S. and abroad, particularly around the implications of GDPR and CCPA to advertising and marketing initiatives.

In addition, I led a team of lawyers to help guide a client through a major reorganization and advised on the legal, regulatory, and business implications across not only the client’s customer base, but also its vendor and supplier base.

How did you choose this practice area?

After college, I went to work as a production manager and producer for a small production company that created training and sales films for pharmaceutical companies. Then, while attending law school in the evening, I worked in the business affairs department of a major advertising agency. I fell in love with advertising and marketing. I enjoyed navigating the legal issues and finding creative, solution-oriented approaches. When I graduated from law school, armed with a solid understanding of the business side, I wanted to bring that lens to the practice of law with a focus on advertising and marketing. I knew it was a field that would change dramatically in the coming years. And it has!

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

My 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.

A good part of my day is also spent serving as the chair of the firm’s Advanced Media & Entertainment (AMT) department. Our department is only as good as the people in it, and we have the very best people who bring talent, passion, creativity, and diverse perspectives to their work. I feel that a key part of my job as a department chair is to listen to our members, understand and support what they want, and find ways to help guide them to their goals. When I do, we each find success. It’s sometimes hard, but I continue to grow and learn from them every day.

I am also privileged to serve as co-chair of the firm’s Diversity and Inclusion Committee, a position which allows me to help spearhead firmwide diversity and inclusion initiatives, including reviewing firm policies, training (including unconscious bias and other training), and hosting forums that bring people together to have open and honest discussions to help effect change and growth. As a member of the LGBTQ community myself, this is something that’s especially important to me and that I’ve found incredibly rewarding.

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

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.

What is the most challenging aspect of practicing in this area?

One of the most challenging aspects of this practice is also the most exciting and rewarding—advertising has become technology- and data-driven, and it’s a continuously evolving and heavily regulated industry. I have to navigate federal, state, and local laws and regulations, as well as standards imposed by self-regulatory organizations. Then, I have to help clients navigate these laws to help their businesses evolve and grow. This is nuanced and requires knowing each client’s priorities, risk profile, values, and culture.

What do you like best about your practice area?

That it is constantly changing! You can’t be bored, and there are always new things to learn and challenges to undertake. I also enjoy the cross-functional nature of our practice, which allows me to build relationships with so many different colleagues and a diverse array of clients.

What is unique about your practice area at your firm?

I think two things make us unique. First, the multidisciplinary nature of Loeb’s AMT department sets us apart in the marketplace. The attorneys in our group have fluency in, and an understanding of, the interrelationship of advertising, digital marketing, promotions, technology, privacy/data security, entertainment, and intellectual property.

Second, the people in our group make us unique, not just because of the talent they bring but also because of the diversity of the people in our group. This allows us to get to better and richer decisions for clients and allows for growth and opportunities for our team members.

Our client base is also unique. We represent major brands as well as dozens of advertising, public relations, digital, and other agencies serving advertisers nationwide. We are exposed, on a daily basis, to every issue imaginable. No two problems are the same, but this is what makes it fun.

Lastly, AMT strives to stay ahead of the curve with respect to changes in advertising, media, and privacy law. We are always asking each other these questions: What’s next? What problems will our clients face tomorrow? How do we be there to help support and solve for these problems? We were among the first to address the legal issues surrounding ad networks and emerging channels for the delivery of advertising and the use of data and to help advertisers identify more relevant audiences for their products and services. We’ve also been a part of the social media and mobile marketing explosion since its beginning and have been at the forefront navigating the intellectual property, rights of publicity, and data and privacy issues that come with these kinds of disruptive innovations. We have become recognized as leaders in the privacy and data space, especially with regard to the CCPA and other proposed privacy regulations. We were active participants during the California Attorney General’s rulemaking forums, submitting proposed rules and regulations as well as testifying before the California Senate Judiciary Hearing on the CCPA. Our guidance on the accompanying legal considerations of these trends and regulations has helped our clients evolve their businesses, practices, and policies.

How do you see this practice area evolving in the future?

I think that the media and privacy landscapes will continue to evolve as new technologies develop and media channels evolve. Robotic process automation (“RPA”), artificial intelligence, and other technologies will present opportunities as well as challenges to the industry. I think our practice will continue to focus on a number of industries, and particular specialization and deep knowledge of these sectors (and sub-sectors) will be critical. Partnering with our clients will continue to be critical, and we will look for opportunities to become even more embedded in their businesses. It is, and will continue to be, very exciting to be a part of this industry.

James Taylor, Chair—Advanced Media and Technology; Co-Chair—Loeb & Loeb Diversity Committee

James (“Jim”) Taylor has more than 30 years of experience assisting brands, advertising agencies, and media and technology companies with the full spectrum of issues and transactions related to advertising, media, and content and how they are increasingly informed by technology, data, and new and progressively complex laws and regulations both in the U.S. and internationally.

Jim is known for his pragmatic, business-oriented approach. An area of particular focus for him includes working with clients to navigate complex legal and business issues relating to innovative ad-tech and technology-enabled transactions, media-related agreements, and privacy and data protection, including those related to the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA). He also provides counsel on integrated marketing, social media, and other content initiatives; agency services agreements; sponsorships and brand integration deals; talent and music agreements; guild issues; and intellectual property and brand protection concerns.

Jared Bartie, Co-Chair
O'Melveny & Myers LLP

Describe your practice area and what it entails.

I am a trusted advisor to team owners, executives, and in-house counsel throughout the sports industry. I handle a broad array of matters related to traditional “stick-and-ball” sports and have developed a thriving practice related to the emerging esports sector.

What types of clients do you represent?

I represent professional sports leagues, teams, governing bodies, buyers and sellers of sports properties, media entities, global apparel and footwear companies, stadiums and arenas, municipal bodies, and collegiate athletic conferences.

What types of cases/deals do you work on?

I lead various matters related to the sports sector, including M&A transactions, facility naming rights matters, media rights deals, sponsorship transactions, and stadium/arena-related agreements.

How did you choose this practice area?

My love of sports, both playing (when I was much younger) and as a spectator, influenced my career choice. I realized at an early age that I didn’t have the talent to play at the professional level. So instead, I forged a path to align my passion for sports with my desire to be a lawyer.

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

A typical day consists of working with our clients to address issues affecting their businesses and finding ways to mitigate or eliminate challenges, while at the same time maximizing opportunities that position them for success.   

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

There are no set criteria for becoming a sports lawyer. However, a solid foundation in various core courses—such as legal writing and drafting, corporate transactions, finance, tax, negotiations, and labor relations—will prove to be useful in pursuing a career in sports. Internships that afford an opportunity to experience and gain an understanding of the business of sports are highly recommended.

What do you like best about your practice area?

I enjoy the diversity of work and that it is affiliated with something I truly enjoy: sports.

What misconceptions exist about your practice area?

The biggest misconception is that the industry and the work related to it is all glitz and glamour. While the work is certainly more interesting than many other areas of law, it requires a dedicated commitment to the craft, long hours, and being well versed in a number of areas of the law. 

What are some typical tasks that a junior lawyer would perform in this practice area?

Junior attorneys are important members of the team. They participate in a wide range of areas, including attending strategy meetings, conducting research, preparing memoranda, preparing drafts of various types of documents, conducting diligence, managing deal closings, and handling many other essential contributions. As is the case with many roles, those who are diligent in their preparation and put forth quality work product often have the opportunity to take on greater responsibility.  

What are some typical career paths for lawyers in this practice area?

There are a number of career opportunities for lawyers working within the sports sector. It is not uncommon for lawyers in private practice to move in-house to work with leagues, teams, media companies, agencies, or governing bodies. Many lawyers transition to business positions and have held roles as commissioners, team presidents, agents, and network heads, to name a few. Solid legal training provides a gateway to a number of career opportunities within the sports sector. 

Jared Bartie, Co-Chair—Sports Industry Group

Jared Bartie is a nationally recognized sports attorney and O’Melveny’s Sports Industry group co-chair and partner co-head of Diversity and Inclusion. He has been named a “Dealmaker” by Variety, a “Power-Player” by SportsBusiness Journal, “Sports Attorney of the Year” by the National Bar Association, and—most recently
—one of the “Most Influential Black Lawyers in America” by Savoy Magazine.

Jared’s career uniquely encompasses both the legal and business professional sports and entertainment experience. He has served as chief legal officer and general counsel of the United States Tennis Association; general counsel and chief administrative officer of the NBA’s Charlotte Bobcats; and an executive in the National Basketball Association’s renowned Team Marketing and Business Operations group.

He represents domestic and international clients on a variety of high-profile matters, including professional sports team investments, stadium and arena transactions, prominent facility naming rights and sponsorship transactions, and complex media rights agreements.

Jared has also developed a robust practice in the burgeoning esports industry and advises on team investments, league entry negotiations, corporate sponsorships, player contract discussions, and arena development matters.

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