A specific major is not typically required for aspiring entertainment lawyers, because law schools may accept students from a wide variety of academic backgrounds. Once students have a baccalaureate degree, they might choose from two academic paths to learn more about entertainment law. They could enroll in a Juris Doctor (J.D.) program while simultaneously completing a Certificate in Entertainment Law. They might also choose to enroll in a Master of Laws (LL.M.) in Entertainment Law program once they have already earned their J.D., which usually takes one to two years to complete. Whatever path they take, they will be required to pass the bar exam before they can practice entertainment law in the United States.
Certificate in Entertainment Law
Offered within J.D. programs, students who choose to earn a certificate may examine the business issues and legal aspects of the entertainment industry. They may also be required to complete internships and research-based writing projects. Upon program completion, students could be prepared to practice law throughout the entertainment industry, including such areas as music, television, motion pictures, sports, radio or the visual arts.
In addition to the required courses within the school of law, students may choose from a number of elective courses, including such subject areas as cinematics and music business. Required course topics for the program could include subjects such as:
- Intellectual property and antitrust law
- Copyright and trademark law
- Legal issues in music and television
- Sales and contracts
- Law and international entertainment
- Contracts and negotiations
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Master of Laws in Entertainment Law
An LL.M. program could be offered in entertainment and media law or entertainment, media and intellectual property law. Students could choose to generalize their curriculum to encompass many aspects of entertainment law or they may choose to specialize in a specific area, such as film, based on their interest within the field. The following course topics might be included throughout the program:
- Accounting for lawyers
- Copyright, television and film law
- Labor and employment law for the entertainment industry
- Video game and trademark law
- Communications law and policy
- Law of Hollywood guilds
Popular Career Options
In addition to becoming a lawyer within the entertainment industry, students could also pursue a career as a media or intellectual property lawyer. Graduates of these programs may use their entertainment law knowledge to work in settings like:
- Media companies
- Law firms
- Nonprofit organizations
Employment Outlook and Salary Information
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the median annual salary for lawyers, as reported in 2015, was $115,820 (www.bls.gov). The BLS also stated that employment for lawyers was expected to grow 6% from 2014-2024.
In all states, lawyers are required to be licensed to practice law. After completing an accredited law program, an aspiring lawyer must pass the state bar exam, which can include both a written examination and an ethics examination.
Aspiring lawyers who are in the process of getting their Juris Doctor can direct their careers toward entertainment law by getting a certificate in the field. Those who have already earned a J.D. can get similar training by enrolling in an LL.M. program.