Advice on choosing a music lawyer for contracts

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  • #11615 Reply
    angopop
    Participant

    A few lawyer related questions:

    1. Do most people here have a lawyer check out the contracts that they sign with music libraries? I’m asking because I’ve read the contracts that I’ve signed with music libraries and looked up what I don’t understand, but perhaps I an not interpreting legal jargon correctly?

    2. What do you look for in a music lawyer (specifically for contracts related to music libraries)? What questions would you ask?

    I assume that since I’m signing with most of the libraries that many people on this forum are signing with, that the contracts are fair, etc… but I am ‘assuming’….

    Thanks.

    #11699 Reply
    angopop
    Participant

    Anyone?

    #11700 Reply
    Art Munson
    Keymaster

    In St. Louis there is an organization called VLAA – Volunteer Lawyers and Accountants for the Arts. I think this exists in a lot of other cities as well. If your income is below a certain level, you can consult with one for free. Otherwise, for a small fee they’ll send you a list of lawyers in the area that work in the arts.

    When I first got interested in this field, some advice I heard was to have a lawyer look over your contract and explain each paragraph to you. Since most contracts are similar, you can pretty much understand ones you receive in the future.

    If anything in a contract seems unusual or fishy, you can post a question on this site to get input from people with more experience.

    #11707 Reply
    angopop
    Participant

    Thanks Tim.

    I’ve thought about that organization. I just figured someday I may want a music lawyer, and might as well search one out now.

    Since there are people here who most likely have music lawyers, I thought it would be a good place to ask about ‘interviewing’ a prospective lawyer.

    -Angopop

    #11710 Reply
    MichaelL
    Participant

    @angopop…a lot depends on where you live / work. In the U.S. lawyers are licensed by jurisdiction, specifically, states in which they’ve passed the bar exam. A lawyer who is licensed in one state, cannot practice in another state, until they become a member of that state’s bar. (If the matter involves federal court, that’s different).
    So, if you live in the US, you’ll want to find a lawyer who practices where you live.

    Expect to spend $150 to $500 per hour. Reading a contract and advising you, might take 1 to 2 hours. If any negotiation is involved it could take much longer.

    I just helped a friend with a contract. Reading it and advising him took about an hour. Going back and forth with the lawyer on the other side, revising the contract and sending 20 emails took another seven hours.

    As TimV suggests, many cities have volunteer lawyers for the arts.
    You can also search for lawyers by practice area at http://www.martindale.com

    Good luck.
    Michael

    #11711 Reply
    Mark Lewis
    Participant

    @angopop
    I find my lawyers (and just about everything else) on elance.com. There are some good ones there at all levels including anything to do with music involving international copyright and local and international litigation.

    I think if you post a copy of the proposed agreement that you have questions about directly in an elance project you will get lawyers bidding on your project, you can check out their past projects and reviews before you decide who to choose and then you can probably get an inexpensive and thorough review of what you are getting into my agreeing to the contract in question.

    I have paid $250 just for a letter of complaint and intent to litigate if a matter was not resolved.
    Lawyers aren’t cheap. Clarification: Good lawyers aren’t cheap.

    #11715 Reply
    MichaelL
    Participant

    Good lawyers aren’t cheap.

    No, I’m not. 😀

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