A career as a media lawyer sounds like a great legal job, offering opportunities to interact with celebrities on a regular basis, such as Premiership footballers, top musicians and entertainers, politicians, members of the professions and others in public life. With privacy laws very much in the news, having an experienced legal adviser on tap is a vital business tool for many people who need to protect their professional interests from the point of view of their reputation and to safeguard their earning ability. Many major legal firms in the UK now have at least one partner who can handle this type of work and trainee solicitors interested in moving into this field should contact a knowledgeable legal recruitment agency for vacancies where they can develop this specialisation.
Defamation – slander and libel – is the subject clients most often seek the advice of a solicitor for, when they feel that untrue criticism of themselves, or their work, which has been voiced, or published, will reduce their standing among their peers or with the public. Very often, a suitably-worded letter from a senior partner in a law firm will be sufficient to ensure an appropriate apology is issued and the offence is not repeated. If, however, the perpetrator does not back down, for whatever reason, and wants to have their day in court, the skills of a media lawyer will be invaluable.
Harassment of an individual and the intrusion into the privacy of him (or her) self and their family is another area where a solicitor’s letter with the threat of a follow-up injunction is usually enough to deal with tabloid newspaper photographers or stalkers who threaten to disrupt the celebrity’s attempts to have a normal life. Aside from the more litigious part of representing a well-known person, a legal practice will have commercial law specialists who will be able to negotiate contracts for a variety of aspects of maintaining their client’s reputation and income. For example, a solicitor can act as a go-between for a newspaper or magazine which wishes to publish photographs or information about the personality, arranging a suitable fee and protecting the client’s interests.
In a similar vein, entertainers, musicians, actors, authors, television performers who have contracts for management, recording, broadcasting, publishing and licensing need a lawyer to check the small print to make sure they are not being exploited. Royalty payments may also need monitoring. Sponsorship, merchandising and image rights make up an important part of the income of many sports and entertainment personalities and good legal advice will save them from making embarrassing or costly mistakes in agreeing to something which does not fit with their image or fails to value it sufficiently.
Protecting copyright and intellectual property is a growing part of a media lawyer’s portfolio, as the internet now allows people all over the world to view the work of others and have the ability to copy it without acknowledgement or recompense. Trademarks, patents and safeguarding commercial confidentiality are all within the province of solicitors and they can act for both individuals and companies.
These more mundane aspects of commercial life may not have the glamour or excitement of dealing with sports stars and international musicians but the law is for everyone and a solicitor can make a good career as a media lawyer in the 21st Century.