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Looking for Legal Advice?

We often hear from AIR members who need help with contract review or who have a strange and wonderful legal question about whether wiretap law applies to a surreptitiously recorded Clubhouse conversation. AIR staff can’t always answer these questions, but there are a handful of organizations that often can. One great resource is local law schools. Often the communications or first amendment faculty can answer simple questions for you.

Non Profit Legal Centers

  • FIRE (Freelance Investigative Reporters and Editors) launched a pro-bono legal assistance program specifically designed to help freelance journalists with contract review.
  • Lawyers for Reporters provides pro bono legal services to local and independent newsrooms, and can help independents with contract questions. 
  • Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press maintains a legal defense hotline. They specialize in First Amendment, press freedom, freedom of information, or court access issues. Their Protecting Journalists Pro Bono Program makes pro bono legal services available to journalists and small newsrooms that cannot otherwise afford legal representation.
  • National Freedom of Information Coalition is a great resource if you need help accessing public records.
  • Electronic Frontier Foundation primarily works to ensure that civil liberties still apply online. If you need help with a legal issue that intersects with their work they can be a great resource. 
  • Press Freedom Defense Fund can provide support for whistleblowers and journalists who are being targeted by powerful figures for their public interest reporting.
  • Society of Professional Journalists maintains a Legal Defense Fund that considers requests for financial assistance year-round.
  • Volunteer Lawyers for the Arts is a New York based nonprofit that provides pro-bono counsel to artists working in a range of mediums. They maintain an extensive catalog of classes on a range of legal topics and are definitely a great resource on intellectual property questions. They can also help with contract drafting and review, LLC formation, non-payment disputes. And if your needs are outside their scope they're very good about providing referrals.
    • California Volunteer Lawyers for the Arts offers legal support, mediation services and a lawyer referral service for artist in California.
    • Most states in the US have a similar organization, so if you're not in CA or NY try a quick internet search for "volunteer lawyers for the arts" and your state. VLANY maintains a national list of similar organizations, too.
  • Author’s Guild members may be entitled to contract review and assistance with membership.
  • Student Press Law Center supports K-12 and College press outlets.
  • Many of these resources specialize in reporting questions. If you have a question or legal need that is about your status as an employee (or independent contractor) it might be worth reaching out to National Employment Law Center.

Recommended Reading

  • Merlyne Jean-Louis’s blog is a wealth of information. Her overview of Legal Concerns for Podcasters (July 2016) is a great starting place. She was featured on Be More ER in December discussing copyright, copyright infringement, intellectual property rights and how to ensure that you have the rights you need when you commission or license music or graphics. (Be More ER -- Dec 10, 2020)
  • SimpleCast’s Series “Answers from an Actual Lawyer” has answered questions like So you got a cease and desist–now what? (Feb 2021) or what to do if another podcast has a similar name and Do I own my podcast? (Feb 2021) and what happens to a podcast you created as an employee 
  • AIR’s Guide to Fair Practice does a great job of explaining why certain types of contract language are problematic (and it’s a great resource when you need to make the case to a client that their standard contract should be revised). 
  • WGAE Audio Alliance recently released a great guide to “5 Ways to Optimize Your Audio Fiction Contract” It is a fantastic resource, and all of it applies to more than just fiction writers. (Feb 2021)
  • Freelance Investigative Reporters and Editors has a great article on indemnification clauses and what they mean
  • Stanford University's Library maintains an excellent and in depth guide to fair use and copyright that includes summaries of recent court decisions as well as a solid overview of fair use from Nolo press.
  • Stanford also recommends Dear Rich, a copyright blog that takes questions from readers on a range of intellectual property questions.
  • AIR hosted a webinar with Josh Sessler on Fair Use, Public Domain and Copyright (Aug 2020) that is full of answers and insights.

Individual Attorneys

This list is very emphatically not an exhaustive list nor is it an endorsement of any one attorney. AIR has not vetted the attorneys listed here. These are lawyers that our community has used who might be able to help you. If you are an AIR member who has had a great experience with an attorney, and think they belong on this list, contact [email protected]

Quinn Heraty <[email protected]> is an entertainment lawyer with a very strong practice in radio and podcasting. She worked with AIR on our most recent round of sample contracts and is a fantastic resource for producers. States: New York, California

Merlyne Jean-Louis <[email protected]> is a business and entertainment lawyer who specializes in working with artists. She’s active in a number of NYC radio and podcast communities (eg. Pub Radio NYC and Ladio). States: New York and California 

Josh Sessler led AIR’s 2020 workshop on Fair Use, Public Domain and Copyright. States: New York

Kennington Groff handles entertainment law, intellectual property (including  trademarks, copyrights, patents) and can assist with general entrepreneur and business matters. She was recommended by Ladio,  “She did an awesome job for me with a TV contract, but I think podcasting is in her and her firm’s wheelhouse as well.” (Oct 2020) States: National

Marcie Cleary represents podcast creators, hosts, on-air talent, and producers, as well as underlying rights holders and was recommended on Ladio, “Marcie is a great entertainment attorney with a lot of experience in the podcast space.” (Oct 2020)  States: New York

Patrick Kondas is a contracts and entertainment attorney in New York who works in film and new media and can handle most business and production legal questions from business formation through distribution. He was recommended on Ladio, “I had a great experience working with Patrick Kondas on a recent contract negotiation. He understands the industry and how to advocate for creators. Highly recommend!” (Oct 2020)

Bianca Grimshaw <[email protected]> was recommended on Ladio, “I love Bianca Grimshaw, great w/ contract negotiations, and IP, really understands our industry. She also just launched Room Tone, which is an advisory that helps producers in our industry with biz dev and management.” (Oct 2020)

Ryan Fox <[email protected]> is another Ladio rec. He works on content clearance, fair use, permissions, pre-publication legal review (eg. defamation, invasion of privacy) as well as dispute resolution, production and services agreements. States: New York

Corey Field <[email protected]> has expertise in music licensing, copyright and trademark IP work, but has worked with podcast clients on other legal issues as well.   “He’s LA-based and I’ve worked with him on film-related contracts and advising, but I know he works with podcasters and on IP as well. A true pleasure to work with — and I’ve learned so much!” (January 2021) States: California

Maybe you don’t need a lawyer.

If you don’t need an actual attorney but just want someone who can help you get your business set up and evaluate deals, your options might be wider. 

Anything to Add?

If there’s a resource we missed or a description we could improve, feel free to email [email protected] -- we’d love to see this resource continue to grow.