How to get free legal advice as a musician | ArtistHustle TV

How to get free legal advice as a musician | ArtistHustle TV

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How to get free legal advice as a musician

National VLA Directory

Disclaimer: Consult an attorney licensed in your jurisdiction with specific questions.

Enlist the help of a Volunteer Lawyers for the Arts organization.
Some organizations provide pro-bono or low-cost legal services to artists who meet certain income requirements (i.e., you can’t utilize their pro-bono services if make above a certain amount of money). Most charge a nominal membership fee that includes access to legal and business services as well as workshops and other educational resources. Visit the National VLA Directory to see if there’s one close to you.

How to Find a VLA
There is no national organization for VLAs at this time but you can find a local directory of VLAs visit the website

How the Process of Engagement Works
Each VLA can operate a bit differently but there is almost always an initial intake or application process through their website. Nashville’s Volunteer Lawyers and Professionals for the Arts intake process just takes an email while others have an online form to fill out or a PDF to complete and send.

You will be asked to supply information such as:
what is your legal problem?
are any lawyers already a part of the issue?
what is your financial situation?

There will be a small intake fee (, , or something relatively small compared to the service you will get) to enroll in the service, but the actual advice and your time with the lawyer will be free.

There are often financial caps to consider, and each VLA is a bit different here so these are rough numbers, but if your annual income is more than ,000, if your music business is generating more than 0,000, or if the value of the deal at issue is more than 0,000, then there might be some cap that makes you ineligible for the VLA.

Once accepted you will be asked to sign some paperwork that formalizes your relationship with the VLA.

Check out a law school clinic.
Some law schools have clinics – mini law firms run by law students and supervised by faculty – that specialize in entertainment law. They operate similarly to Volunteer Lawyers for the Arts organizations. Check your local law school to see if this is an option, especially if you live in an entertainment hub like New York, Los Angeles, or Nashville. One caveat: do not hire a law student to do your legal work outside of a legal clinic setting. Law students aren’t licensed to practice law without proper supervision. Go through the legal clinic’s proper intake channels.

Contact a legal clinic for the arts
There are some nonprofit organizations that offer free or low-cost legal services to musicians. You can research online whether your state has such an organization and contact the organization to see if what they offer meets your legal needs. Some of the lawyers at these organizations are very competent attorneys who service high-level clients and enjoy volunteering their time to help independent musicians. Of course, others are newly licensed and may or may not be reputable. I cannot comment on the caliber of service you will be getting because it depends on which state you are in, the quality of the organization, and the attorney handling your case. However, if you want to work with someone on an ongoing basis throughout your matter and you can’t afford regular attorney’s fees, then this might be a good option for you to investigate.

Barter/negotiate with an attorney.
Attorneys know your plight as an artist or entrepreneur, especially if they specialize in the entertainment industry. You can always negotiate fees and payment plans. For instance, some attorneys will lower fees or accept payment after a contract is negotiated instead of an upfront fee. Just remember – attorneys like reviewing contracts for free about n not produce a return on a lawyer’s investment of time and skill.

UCLA School of Law Is Offering Free Music Industry Legal Advice + Contract Help
January 2018

UCLA School of Law Is Offering Free Music Industry Legal Advice + Contract Help

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