In this episode Attorney A. Browne, Esq. provides her thoughts on how to find and get good legal representation as a marginalized artist.
Hello, hello, hello! Thanks for joining. I am sharing my thoughts on questions posed to me, often via social media platforms. I hope that these questions and my thoughts are relevant to the community that I serve at large.
As an attorney, I work in intellectual property and business law primarily. As with all of my blogs and videos, I am not your attorney and this is not legal advice I am simply sharing my thoughts on question asked of me. I’d be happy to help with any detailed legal advice via our consultation process.
First and foremost you should know that whether marginalized, an artist or an entrepreneur good legal representation is good legal representation – no matter where or what you come from. However, I think that often minor marginalized parties specifically do not realize the relationship they form with an attorney and or a law firm is one that they engage in to help them along their journey. That means that you should seek respectful, excellent, and competent partnership as your would with any other relationship. When you select someone to accompany you on your journey understand that you are in a leadership position. Even as an artist – your art is your business, that is your brand and you are in charge. You are the captain and the CEO and president and any other leadership title you want to use to describe the person who is going to steer the ship in whatever direction that you want that ship to go.
To that end when you choose someone to partner with you including but not limited to your accountant, your artist management, and your attorney they need to understand that they are partners with you. You are employing them to take you to the next level. Any employee of yours should be working to serve your best interest so when you consult with them, at any time when you have an issue with them you want to feel secure about those relationships just as you would any other relationship. Have a consult with them and then go through a checklist of questions.
Ask yourself if this person or persons are going to be a good partner in my band building journey?
Are they listening to my concerns and providing real methods of action to help attack those concerns?
Do they understand what is important to me and where I am coming from?
Do they understand what I’m asking for help on and have solutions to achieve those needs?
My thoughts on these questions specifically come to mind when thinking about helping minority marginalized artists getting good legal representation because perhaps their prior experience with hiring a team is limited. The first step to success is for the artist to understand that they are the owner of their brand and anyone
If you meet with a law firm and the person or persons doesn’t give you a good partnership relationship at offset then they’re not the right representation for you. Also, know if they are experienced in what it is that you’re trying to accomplish.
One of the important things for artists of all kinds is that they understand that their art is a business if they expect to commercialize it and make an income off it. So you as an artist want some looking out for your best business interests and that can advise you and consult with you on the next steps as well as crafting a solid plan for your growth. Whenever I consult with a potential new client my first question is what is your objective? The advice I give to them is going to depend on where they ultimately want to go with their brand. There are all different ways to accomplish success and only with your guidance and honesty can we steer you right as your attorney. There are always a lot of options many times and within the model and we have to be aware of what it is that you really want to achieve. As the captain think about what is your long-term objective before you meet and then expect counsel to give you the best roadmap to get there. Part of that understanding, I think especially if you don’t know any attorneys is to understand that you are in charge of that relationship. It’s a relationship that you’re paying for advice and counsel.
Not specific to the question, but an important point worth mentioning is – do not let the lack of funds be your limiter.
I think that a lot of time minority entrepreneurs and or minority/ marginalized artists may think they can not afford attorneys so in turn they get involved in deals or create businesses without any legal representation, legal advice, or counsel to guide them. In today’s day it is a mistake to let money guide you in these matters and you should avoid that at all costs. Ask an attorney if they provide limited scope services. They can only say no we don’t do that. You should ask if you don’t feel that you have the finances for a full retainer. Often if you can’t hire an attorney to be on retainer you can afford to have an attorney retainer review a contract agreement on your behalf for a single flat fee. Even if they’re not your long-term partner today it may be that you will be able to at some point in the future come back and hire them for your full scope. Anyone who is building something and they are working so hard in those efforts should take the time to be protected before they enter into the deal.
Also if you are reading this and thinking I cannot afford to pay a flat fee there are lots of different organizations that offer pro bono services to artists. I partner with one – Volunteer Lawyers for the Arts in New York. There are nonprofit organizations out there. Look around for your best option.
Because I’m a minority as well, I understand that often people just don’t know what is out there having not been there before. You don’t know what you don’t know until you gain the insight. Look for options that are affordable to you before you just sign a contract, before you get an agent, or enter into any major deal. Especially when you get to the point in your career that you’re looking at deals make sure you get someone to review the terms and then just to summarize.
I think getting good legal representation means finding someone that is going to be a good partner with you in your journey and one understands what it is that you’re looking for. When you attend your consultation they’ll ask you questions about what it is you want to achieve. Ensure that you are being heard and they are not talking over you and or not listening to you. Ensure that they are understanding what you have come to them to accomplish. If they are not doing all of those things they’re probably not the right partner for you. Know that you have choices and that you are in charge. This is your brand, your business, and your career. I hope this is helpful to someone and as always remember we are here- when you need us where you are.
A. Browne, Esq. © 2021 All rights reserved.