Tuesday, December 15, 2009

No Business Like Show Business

Well, now that Esq. Never has enjoyed its 15 minutes of fame (and hopefully an expanded reader base), it's time to get back to our regularly scheduled content. (I think I spent the last four posts just responding to the publicity we've recently received.)

Speaking of fame, today I'm presenting to you the testimony of a reader who successfully transitioned from the law to a career in the entertainment industry. No, I don't mean she's a performing artist or that's she somehow broke into the virtually non-existent field of "entertainment law". I'm also not just trying to set the stage for a snide comment about a law school graduate who is now forced to run a movie projector or clean up spilled Slush Puppies at the local cinema.

That's right, for those of you who think this blog is just dedicated to cynicism and despair, you're wrong (that's only 90% of what Esq. Never is dedicated to). Occasionally, we do offer some hope and encouragement.

To wit:

I work in the entertainment industry. Hardest area to get into & makes getting into BigLaw look like a cakewalk by comparison. I've been admitted 2 years & literally got in w/ZERO advantages. No prior contacts, no Ivy League school, no money, nothing.

One of my advantages was the fact that I'd moved from CT to NYC due to my husband's getting his dream job in Queens while I was finishing law school.

Second, I have a separate entertainment background & even incorporated some of that background into things I did in law school like performing in a law school talent show or joining entertainment committees in bar associations (I was in ABA & NYCLA, New York County Lawyers Association as a law student & today for discounts).

Third, I lived so many places I simply didn't have significant attachments aside from going to school somewhere (didn't even join a CT bar association or participate in networking efforts there since my plan was ALWAYS NYC).

Fourth, I told people point blank I'm a creative person & just don't fit in the typical law firm environment; entertainment was my back-up career & I decided I didn't want to put my talent and experience away in a black box, never to be touched again. I also worked as a legal intern in my school's legal clinic & left a job at a mid-size Atlanta law firm to go to law school so I had some basis for that belief. Having my brother in law die at 21 right before I got accepted also made me decide life was far too short to spend it all kissing some big firm partner's behind (I was 22 at the time).

Finally, it helps when your area of interest isn't available just anywhere. You can't live in Montana & do this stuff.

I had character & fitness issues when I was getting admitted, mainly b/c of not being born to money & having to survive on my own. This meant I had time on my hands to seek something to do. I chose entertainment internships (largely unpaid but I took out loans to cover living expenses while searching for a job in NYC). Led to an internship w/a veteran talent agent & working as the Exec Asst to the CEO of an up & coming film production company. Being in the right place at the right time has led me to some very unusual circumstances & achievements, including a partnership in the film company. So responding to relevant CL ads was what helped me. I also think not coming off helpless is a good tactic. Downside is I'm not making a fortune but you really work w/new companies for passion. I also came from very limited means & when that happens, you have to learn how to adapt or you don't make it. Not to mention most lawyers envy what I'm doing & other young ones don't have the same contacts or even the freedom to regard people at higher levels as equals like I can.

So I think luck, a good spin and proof of your story can make a real difference. I also did document review once & decided that if I wanted to be demeaned I'd be a prostitute instead of hanging around that environment. I went through a lot to get where I am so I don't see why anyone else can't do the same w/proper motivation.

Now, I know what many of you are thinking. "Thanks, Esq. Never, this is advice on how to land a job that's even more difficult to get than finding a decent attorney position. That's a real help." Well, first of all, maybe somebody out there actually does want to get into the entertainment industry. Secondly, if it's possible to get into the entertainment industry despite all of the baggage we carry from graduating from law school, it's definitely possible to find a run of the mill corporate or government job.

At least that's what I'm telling myself...


  1. It is definitely possible to get a non-attorney government job based on your JD. That is what I and quite a few other people in my office are doing. Having a JD qualifies you for many jobs starting at a GS-9 on the government pay scale. That is around $50k most places, and my position goes to about $75k after 2 years. That is a great deal for 40 hours a week and excellent job security when compared to working like a slave for an egomaniac partner at a small firm for $30k. USAJobs.gov has listings for federal jobs in every state. Hooray government!

  2. Good to hear. Do you think the huge influx of applications have only been for attorney positions? With the economy in trouble overall, I would think all government jobs would be at a premium.

    Also, any suggestions for the types of positions that favor J.D.'s? If you read this, feel free to respond here or e-mail me esqnever at hotmail dot com if you'd like to provide a more substantive response for me to post.



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