in Careers Advice, Legal Profession, Training Contracts, Pupillage and Work Experience

What does a Media Lawyer do?

What does a Media Lawyer do?

When I grow up I want to be a media lawyer and go round slapping injunctions on people. It sounds sooo exciting!

Hmm.

OK – so you want to be a media solicitor but what does one do in practice?

If you need to read this article, one thing is clear. You don’t actually know. If you don’t actually know you need to go and find out. The only way to find out is to go and get work experience. You get work experience by contacting solicitors firms and asking them for work experience.

If you have stopped reading this article to go and get work experience, great.

If you are still reading, I’ll go into Media Law in a bit more depth. If you can’t be bothered reading my waffly writing then I can sum up media law in 10 words: swap the word ‘media’ for ‘commercial contracts, defamation and intellectual property law’ and you probably have a good definition.

Media Law is Commercial Law

Media law is in actual fact all about the commercial relationship between the media, whether this be internet companies, newspapers, magazine publishers, advertising companies or book publishers, and their clients – the customers.

The vast majority of the work of a media lawyer relates to contracts. Contracts for users of websites, contracts for the use of a trademark, contracts for the use of intellectual property, contracts for the purchase of media items, but contracts nonetheless.

Commercial contracts are boring. Reviewing commercial contracts is even more boring. Drafting commercial contracts is tedium beyond no other.

Defamation actions are usually not very interesting either. A lot of time is usually spent arguing about the finite details of an application. Contrary to the impression I don’t think you very often get out of the office, let alone chase anyone round the streets slapping them on the shoulder with an emergency injunction.

Media law is not an exciting area of law at all. In fact it is perhaps on the more dry areas.

It is however very lucrative.

If you are working in a media law firm, chance are your clients are blue chip companies, large organisations or wealthy private individuals. All of these types of clients pay well, or are expected to pay well. As a result you are likely to receive a good salary or level of remuneration.

I once coached a media solicitor working for a well known law firm acting on behalf of wealthy private individuals. As an associate he received a salary of £350k per annum. For this he was expected to put in shifts at the office that would make a junior doctor in the NHS gasp in shock at. He was burnt out, fed up and looking to get out as quickly as possible. The work was tedious, the hours horrific, but he really liked the money. In the end the money came first and he continued to suffer the career to benefit from it…

How much to media lawyers get paid?

Pluck a figure from the sky and stick a few noughts on it. You are probably not far off the average salary of a media solicitor at some point in their career. Salaries for NQ solicitors at some of the media firms start at around £60-75k and go upwards rapidly. www.rollonfriday.com is usually the bible for salary ranges at commercial practices – thoroughly recommended.

Is it for me?

Probably – if you have all of the following:

  1. A high 2.1 or 1st from a respected university.
  2. Good A Levels (AAA or similar).
  3. A good level of extra-curricular activity.
  4. Work experience in a law firm – particularly a commercial law firm and/or well known media law firm.

Aren’t you being a bit pessimistic?

Possibly – we occasionally see solicitors in commercial law firms and media law firms who come from unconventional backgrounds – eg former police officers, or graduates with 2.2 degrees, but the vast majority conform to the requisite list above.

Who are the Media Law Firms?

Even then you will need to be lucky to get a training contract from one of the recognised media law firms. The Legal 500 should probably be your first port of call to find out who these are. You could also try reading the Leveson Report – quite a few media law firms seemed to be involved!

How do I get started as a Media Solicitor?

All of them have HR Departments. If at all possible you want to avoid these, but you may inevitably find these are the only contacts are you are able to get in touch with. Try to get internships or vacation scheme places. These are the main ways to get into a media law firm. By all means go and work for your local Citizens Advice Bureau. Spend time with a high street law firm. But you won’t get much nearer a career with a media law firm.

Jonathan Fagan is Managing Director of TP Legal Recruitment and can be contacted for comment regarding the above article by emailing cv@ten-percent.co.uk

Jonathan Fagan

Jonathan Fagan LLM FIRP is Managing Director of Ten-Percent Legal Recruitment. He has been recruiting solicitors and legal support staff for law firms and in house legal departments for over 17 years and handles roles from junior fee earners through to partners and law firm sales/purchases. A non-practising solicitor on the Roll since 2000, he is also the author of a number of legal career books, which are available at www.legalcareercoaching.co.uk. You can contact Jonathan at cv@ten-percent.co.uk