“Words are a lawyer’s tools,” says Stacy Slotnick ’05 (Legal Studies/History), a New York-based entertainment attorney and public relations specialist. “Fortunately, my passion is writing, and as a result, I never tire of drafting proposals, contracts, talking points, press releases, or pithy social media entries to highlight a client's accomplishments.”
Following this passion has led Slotnick to a varied and successful legal career.
As an entertainment lawyer, she represents clients in endorsement and sponsorship negotiations, licensing agreements, publishing deals, and business formations. She counsels clients on radio, sports, fashion, and copyright matters, and provides legal advice to media experts, actors, writers, producers, record labels, musicians, managers, and agents in the film, television, visual arts, fitness and health, cable, and interactive media sectors.
In addition to representing this range of clients, Slotnick also writes “The Foxy Jurist” column for The Huffington Post. Her writing has appeared in the Celebrity, Entertainment, Taste, Travel, Books, Style, Healthy Living, and Business sections, and she appears regularly on the reality television blog All About the Tea.
Slotnick has worked with Fox News Channel, The Wall Street Journal, CNN, NPR, Bravo, Yahoo, Al Jazeera America, Lucky Magazine, CNBC, PBS, W, Good Morning America, Today, the RiotCast Network, The Miami Herald, Sirius Satellite Radio, 20/20, BBC News, iHeartRadio, HLN, and Univision – just to name a few. And she is on a first name basis with a number of local, national, and international media affiliates, talent bookers, and executive producers.
This publicity and stardom feeds the image that being an entertainment lawyer is always fun or glamorous, but Slotnick cautions that “it’s a very, very hard area of the law to break into.”
It’s also an industry that never stops; “My phone is always in overdrive,” she says. “Just because it might be a weekend or holiday does not mean entertainment or sports issues cease. There are always deals to be made, opportunities to grab, clients to pitch, and fundraisers that I lend my services to.”
This constant movement means that no two days are the same. “However certain patterns have materialized over time,” she says. “For example, first thing in the morning I turn on the news, check my email, and scour the Internet to see what are the breaking news stories. I spend a good amount of time in the morning pitching clients for media opportunities, which can constitute negotiating with executive producers, station managers, publishers, radio stations, and talent bookers.”
This merger of public relations and law sets Slotnick apart: “Since I am an attorney who has relationships with the entertainment industry, my clients have a unique advantage in gaining targeted media exposure while I negotiate and draft their contracts,” she says.
Despite this dynamic, fast-paced environment, Slotnick does recognize consistency is key, articulating, "Hard work leads to fascinating opportunities."
Indeed, hard work, combined with confidence and persistence, are the keys to her own success.
“It is critical to have a healthy level of confidence as well as unbridled persistence,” she says. “Being surrounded by SNL writers, television hosts, Academy Award-winning actors as well as owners of NFL teams is daunting. But fear stunts growth, narrows our ambitions, and prevents us from realizing our potential. Moreover, very powerful people feel at ease when those around them are confident.”
She encourages students to take chances, find their passion, and then pursue it confidently.
And take advantage of what UMass offers – both in the classroom and out: “I found the alternative dispute resolution classes at UMass Amherst extraordinarily helpful because most entertainment battles get resolved in arbitration, mediation, or through tense negotiations” she says. “Litigation tends to destroy relationships, but relationships can be salvaged through improved and respectful arbitration, mediation, and negotiation practices.”
Combining this classwork with hands-on experiences will help to set you apart: “Get your feet wet by interning in any area that involves the entertainment or sports industry. Remember that while you might not be working with Beyonce or a Major League Baseball team at first, working hard in any entertainment or sports field will make you look that much more attractive to an entertainment law firm down the line.”
Moreover, “if you are interested in entertainment law, get acquainted with the theater department, audition for a play to see what it is like to be a thespian, or consider directing a workshop. If you want to someday represent athletes in contract disputes, play a sport, work on the management side, or get towels and water for players. You will learn by osmosis from being around people who are actors and athletes.”
Until you land that dream job, appreciate the professors and peers you are surrounded by at UMass already: “UMass professors ask students to be the best they can be. I felt compelled to study hard, ace my exams, and write superior papers because that was what was expected of me by instructors I respected and admired. I also found a home at UMass' Commonwealth Honors College that fostered intellectual exchange and close interaction with faculty and other students,” she says. “There is no question UMass helped me accomplish my academic goals as well as contributed to getting me to the next level in my professional career.”
- Alumni News