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Sunday, April 20, 2008

Lawyers Cracking "The Biz"

I have always believed that the majority of lawyers working today are spectacularly repressed artists. There was a QUT ad a few years ago as part of the "real world" campaign, which profiled a law grad working at Allens who was also "cool" because he performed in a band on weekends.

I discovered several academics during my time at uni were musicians and actors on the side. In fact, there was one who admitted that his musical theatre friends had no idea he was an academic, and vice versa with his academic friends. This idea prompted me to write the Marc Cohn parody in the Law Revue last year - I Work In An Office But I'd Rather Be In Comedy.

Here are a couple of blog postings from the Wall Street Journal blog I found rather stirring and poignant about law students who dream of far better things...
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Firstly, from an article written two years ago entitled "Law School By Default" by Cameron Stracher, who writes about the high percentage of lawyers who grow disenchanted with the profession, realizing it is not all what it is made out to be. I was particularly drawn to this paragraph...

"If I wanted to be a screenwriter, waiting tables would have kept my options open, too. In fact, many wannabe screenwriters find themselves going to law school, misled by adults into thinking that it will help them get into the movie business. It won't. Sure, you can be a talent agent or a movie producer with a law degree, but you can be one without a degree, too. Most of the skills you learn in law school (and legal practice) won't help you make a movie, and the few that will may not be worth the cost (more than $120,000, including tuition, living expenses, as well as three years of forgone experience and salary). Rather than keeping options open, the crushing debt of law school often slams doors shut, pushing law students to find the highest-paying job they can and forever deferring dreams of anything else."
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This quote was used in the introduction to a recent blog posting - "How Can Lawyers Make It In The Movie Biz?" - about Marc Simon, a lawyer who then made the transition from being a lawyer to a schmoozing film/documentary producer, using his corporate law experience and connections he had made as a lawyer. He also had had P.A. experience working on the set of Playing God with David Duchovny and Angelina Jolie.
Well, to be honest, the whole reason we called you was because you seemed like proof that a legal career and a film career can co-exist. Do you have any advice to law students looking for a similar path?

What you often hear is that the best thing you can do is go to a corporate firm and get corporate experience. I don’t discount that, but my story shows there’s another way to do that. The big issue is that you have to immerse yourself in that world – know people in the industry, read trade papers, and just generally know the business. I know that that’s a big reason why I’ve been able to build a client base, because my clients know that I know the filmmaking business.

It's quite a nice article to read - I recommend it. I wish Marc all the best for success.

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