Jaia Thomas Law

Three Tips for Every Law Student Interested in Sports and Entertainment Law

Network: The Power of Social Media - Currently Twitter had 218.3 million active users. Many of these users are not only athletes and entertainers but also the agents, attorneys, managers and publicists who work with and represent them. Twitter is a great networking tool to connect with industry professionals. I was first introduced to many of my close colleagues through tweets and direct messages. Utilize the social media platform to your utmost advantage. Follow key industry professionals and introduce yourself. Twitter is also a great tool for identifying sports and entertainment-related jobs and internships. On average, 58 million tweets are sent out every day. Many of these tweets often contain job and internship announcements. Do your research and find those key individuals or organizations frequently posting job and internship opportunities. Also, keep in mind that there are countless Twitter chats that provide guidance and advice on breaking into the industry, such as @SportsLawChat and @SportsJobChat.

Learn the Industry: In and Out the Classroom - Students frequently ask me, what are some of the best courses to take in preparation for a career practicing entertainment law? I would highly recommend the following: Entertainment Law (obviously), Contracts, Negotiations, Copyrights, Trademarks and Legal Drafting. There are also excellent educational opportunities outside the law school classroom. Local bar organizations frequently sponsor courses and workshops on sports and entertainment related topics. Also, look into attending a sports or entertainment law conference. Countless colleges, universities and associations (such as Sports Lawyers Association and American Bar Association) sponsor sports and entertainment law conferences. From fashion law to new media law, many of these conferences feature experts in the field and shed insight into the latest sports and entertainment trends. Lastly, it is important to read and continuously abreast of changing laws and developments in the industry through reading the trades, such as Hollywood Reporter and Variety. Also, consider adding The New York Times, The Los Angeles Times, Billboard and Deadline to your daily reading list.

Help Wanted: Secure an Industry-Related Internship: Throughout your three years in law school, you will learn countless statutes and case law while not realizing it is important to learn the industry not simply from a legal perspective but also from a practical perspective. I would highly advise securing a sports or entertainment-related job or internship while in law school. For those who live in such entertainment hubs as New York, Los Angeles, Chicago and Atlanta, that shouldn’t be difficult. But, I often receive emails from students who live in such cities as Albuquerque or Indianapolis, where sports and entertainment-related jobs and internships are far and few in between. My advice - be creative. Firstly, it is important to realize that several companies and organizations offer jobs and internships where students can telecommute. With the plethora of technology, it has become easier for opportunities to transcend zip codes. If you live in a small or mid-size city that doesn’t offer countless opportunities, look into telecommuting. However, it is important to realize that there are entertainment-related opportunities in every city and town. These opportunities may be less obvious but, they are present. Every city or town has a local television station or radio station. Once you identify which niche of the industry you want to focus on, seek out local opportunities related or tangentially related to that focus. Also, don’t count the small guys out. Sometimes it’s easier to secure a job or internship with a local start-up company just getting off the ground. In the event you are unable to secure a job or internship with your ideal company or firm, offer to volunteer. Very few people are ever willing to turn down free help.

Throughout the course of your law school career countless people will tell you how difficult it is to break into sports and entertainment law. And they are right. But, don’t let that be a deterrent. There are more opportunities now than ever before. And if you can’t find one, create one. Be persistent. Be patient. And, good luck!

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