Entertainment Law Degrees: JD, Master's & Online Class Info

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What will you learn in an entertainment law program? Read about program requirements, the pros and cons of a Master of Laws (LL.M.) and Juris Doctor (J.D.) and potential careers.
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Studying Entertainment Law: Degrees at a Glance

The field of entertainment law involves the legal codes and regulations related to music, movies, television, theatre and publishing in matters of intellectual property, employment and contracts, among other matters. Master of Laws (LL.M.) degree programs in entertainment law are designed to provide expertise in the area through focused courses and seminars. Juris Doctor (J.D.) degree programs prepare students to become lawyers in general, with some programs allowing participants to choose a concentration in entertainment law throughout their studies.

In order to practice law, aspiring lawyers must complete an approved J.D. program, pass an examination and comply with any other requirements set by the state in which they plan to practice, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). The BLS also reported that, as of May 2011, nearly 570,000 lawyers worked in the nation, earning an approximate annual average wage of $130,000.

Master of Laws Juris Doctor
Who Is this degree for? Lawyers and non-lawyers interested in becoming experts in or advancing their careers in entertainment law Aspiring entertainment lawyers
Common Career Path (with approximate mean annual salary) - Agent or business manager of artists, performers, or athletes ($92,000)*
- Postsecondary law teacher ($96,000)*
- Lawyer ($130,000)*
Time to Completion About 24 credit hours About 90 credit hours/three years
Common Graduation Requirements - Coursework
- Independent studies or clinical experiences
- Coursework
- Clinical experiences
- Internships
Prerequisites - At least a bachelor's degree
- Working knowledge of U.S. law and the judicial system
- Bachelor's degree
Online Availability Yes None found at this time

Sources: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (May 2011 figures).

Master of Laws in Entertainment Law

Master of Laws (LL.M.) in Entertainment Law degree programs are designed to teach you the legal intricacies relate to media, arts, performance and show business, such as copyright, telecommunications regulations, trademarks, and contracts, among other issues. While some programs require you to be a lawyer in order to participate, others may allow you to join if you have enough working knowledge of U.S. laws and the U.S. judicial system, as well as relevant experience within the entertainment industry.

Pros and Cons


  • The entertainment industry has well-paid job opportunities in this area.*
  • Specialization may improve career advancement options.
  • Could enable you to become an agent for artists and performers, depending on your state and professional aspirations.


  • You may have limited opportunities if you don't hold a J.D.
  • Relocation to California or New York may be necessary for most entertainment law jobs.
  • The entertainment industry can be extremely competitive and stressful.

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Courses and Requirements

Your coursework in an LL.M. in entertainment law program will cover intellectual property, contract and business practices related to the entertainment industry, such as media distribution and international sales. Some of your courses may include:

  • The Hollywood guilds
  • Trademarks
  • Copyright
  • Taxation for artists and entertainers

Online Degree Options

You may find several distance learning LL.M. programs focusing on entertainment law. The curriculum and requirements for these programs is typically the same as the on-campus versions, although with the time and location flexibility that online availability provides to students, who may be working professionals.

Stand Out with This Degree

During your studies, or once you've graduated, you may want to consider joining an association focused on entertainment law, such as the International Association of Entertainment Lawyers (IAEL) or the National Sports and Entertainment Law Society (NSELS). These associations give their members opportunities to network and to keep informed about the latest developments in the field, including conferences, special courses and social events.

Juris Doctor in Entertainment Law

A Juris Doctor (J.D.) program prepares you to become an attorney. Depending on your school, you may have the formal option of choosing a concentration in entertainment law; otherwise, you may still be able to focus on entertainment law by picking your elective courses in that subject. After graduating, you'd be eligible to take the bar examination in your state, a step necessary prior to becoming licensed and starting work as an attorney. Some programs allow you to pursue a joint degree, combining a J.D. with a master's in an area related to entertainment law.

Pros and Cons


  • Lawyers in general have an above-average income of about $130,000 a year.*
  • Entertainment law may mean working with celebrities and major corporations, such as movie studios.
  • Specialization may improve employment opportunities.


  • A J.D. program can be expensive and time-consuming.
  • You may often face fierce competition and stressful situation within the entertainment industry.
  • You'll need to keep yourself informed about new laws and regulations related to entertainment and media.

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Courses and Requirements

A J.D. curriculum includes foundational courses in contracts, torts, property laws, trial procedure, the court system and criminal justice, among other legal topics. Some programs require an internship or some other sort of professional experience before you graduate, such as a judicial clerkship or legal clinic work. A focus on entertainment law may entail classes in the following:

  • Intellectual property
  • Mediation and negotiations
  • Patents
  • International copyright
  • The music industry

Online Degree Options

As of November 2012, no online J.D. programs were approved by the American Bar Association (ABA). However, some law schools offer independent courses and specialized seminars in a distance learning format. These courses and seminars typically focus on a specific aspect or field of the legal system, such as entertainment law, and are designed for students and working professionals looking to expand their knowledge of said legal specialty.

Stand Out with This Degree

While pursuing your J.D., you may want to consider contributing to a scholarly journal, especially one focused on entertainment law. Getting published in such a journal can prove to potential employers your competence in and dedication to the field. In addition, you may also want to consider joining any student organizations related to entertainment law, since those organizations may provide excellent opportunities to network and learn more about the field through special events and social activities.

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